Signing My Release to Be Detained is part of the Tahiti Triumph Trip Report. It covers the following cities:
- NYC JFK
- Dubai, UAE
- Shanghai, China
- Papeete, Tahiti
- Bora Bora, Tahiti
- Moorea, Tahiti
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Hong Kong Island
- Tokyo, Japan
- Dallas, Texas
TPOL has done some stupid shit in his travel life. That’s why I keep a page of Travel Lessons for you to learn from, have a laugh at my expense, and for me to never forget. For example, while trying to catch a flight from Oslo, Norway to JFK when I was in Iceland may have been the dumbest thing I’ve done (see Flying Icelandair by Mistake), my visa blunder in China was by far the most stressful. It all started at the Narita airport in Tokyo. I went to the ticket counter in a good mood after my sake ramen experience (see ANA Lounge Tokyo: Noodle & Sake Bar). There I was told that I could not go to China because I did not have a visa. Arrogant, I explained to the agent, someone who handles these issues daily, the 144-hour visa transit rule (see China 144-hour Visa-Free Transit: It Worked the 1st Time).
The Rule: China has a 144-hour visa transit rule that lets visitors enter major cities without a visa. The catch is that the visitor has to be coming from X country and leaving to Y, and the visitor has to stay in the city of entry.
My Situation: I was flying from New Zealand to Shanghai but with a connection in Japan. I was going home from Shanghai with a connection in Japan. In my legal estimation, this satisfied the rule because I wasn’t actually entering Japan.
The Release: The agent said I would have to sign a release before boarding the plane stating that I would not hold the airline accountable should I have issues in China. Macho me signed away and shook my head in disbelief at the ignorance of the agent. To think, I would’ve missed my flight and missed my birthday celebration over this.
Doubts? Having gone through this before (see China’s 72-hour Visa-Free Transit Rule: Flyer Beware), I was pretty sure that I was right. Everything was going to be fine. Or was it?
Continue reading: Visa Blunder Part 2.