Friday, December 9, 2016

[VISA] China (24-hr Transit)

I’ve transited in Beijing thrice this year so far, with the first two going smoothly with Air China. Both times they just gave me all the boarding passes upon check-in and my luggage went straight to my final destination. With Hainan Airlines, I took the risk. They began plying the Beijing – Las Vegas route a few days ago, and for just USD287 for a Las Vegas – Beijing – HK flight (via Hong Kong Airlines), it’s the cheapest trans-Pacific flight I could find for the holiday season. And so I booked it on Priceline at once.

After all, they will give me both boarding passes upon check-in in Vegas, right? Just like before! The girl at the check-in counter at McCarran assured me that my check-in baggage would go straight to Hong Kong. No need to claim it in Beijing! Just approach the transfer desk for your onward boarding pass. They said they can only print the Las Vegas – Beijing leg. Okay, that’s fishy, or I guess I just expected too much? Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines are supposedly on codeshare. Well, they’re not that streamlined.

The transfer desk at Beijing Capital won’t print my boarding pass because according to them, my luggage was only checked in up to Beijing. I must claim it and check-in again. I don’t have a Chinese visa, Biatch. Immigration won’t let me in. Actually, that’s a lie. I know that almost every nationality can transit in most airports in China for 24 hours without a visa. What I was really worried about was the fact that my passport had no pages left. Where are they going to stamp that temporary entry pass? On my forehead?

The two flights were booked under one ticket number, leaving Las Vegas December 7 and arriving on December 8. The immigration officer read it wrong and kept on insisting that my flight to Hong Kong already departed yesterday. December 7, right? Jesus Christ, I can only handle so much idiocy after a 13-hour flight. He called his superior who was, hallelujah, less mentally-challenged than he was. And then he told me that my passport had no more pages, and that he’d just stamp the pass on the Limitations page.

So now my passport LITERALLY has no blank page left. Even the Amendments page has already been stamped four times. I don’t know what repercussions that will have. I guess we’ll find out when I renew it next week. Long story short, I had to run a la Amazing Race to baggage claim and customs and eventually made it to the Hong Kong Airlines counter 55 minutes before take-off. They still checked me in. It was a hassle. I thought it would be a simple transit devoid of BS. Maybe the stress just comes for free. BTW, now in HK!

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