Whether you're leaving Qatar for a quick vacation or for good, it's always worth noting the comfort of travelling hassle-free in one of the best airports in the world. You may have bought your ticket in advance or secured a long-awaited VISA, but are you sure you're gonna get through all the airport checkpoints by prioritizing just the major travel documents?
Regardless of how many miles you're travelling, the littlest details should also be taken into consideration. Some of these pitfalls don't seem to be a big deal at first glance but can literally bring a big and negative impact to your seemingly-perfect itinerary once ignored.
Being a certified wanderlust who'd been to 11 countries for the past 2 years, the writer of this article is happy to share five of his past travel mishaps that almost made him unable to fly.
Disclaimer: Actually, the first three REALLY forbade him to travel. Read further to check out snippets from some of his biggest airport hoes and how he was able to surpass them.
We hope that you guys can learn from my mistakes!
It was my first out of the country opportunity back in 2013 when I was stopped right at the check-in counter as the airport staff said that my passport will be expiring in exactly 5 months and 28 days -- a glitch that wasn't double checked when my flight booking was made. I can't do anything. The immigration office gave me an option to fly but there's still no assurance whether the tough immigration checkpoint in Singapore will let me in, so I had to entirely cancel the trip. There's no way that I will risk a chance as I was a barely a minor that time, and yeah, a first-time traveler.
Some airlines will leave you mercilessly without even paging for your name. Besides, there are countless advisories being announced in the airport so once you heard them say that the boarding gate will close half an hour before the flight, then abide by that. Our advice would be: Don't use any toilet besides the one nearest to your assigned boarding gate. Speakers can't be heard inside the cubicles.
It was my first time to go back home (the Philippines) after roughly a year of working in Qatar. Arriving in the airport on time, I don't have a single worry that anything might go wrong. The mistake I did was a little too on the childish side: I was so fascinated of how posh the HIA was that I held a mini photowalk around until I forgot that I'm supposed to be at the gate 5 minutes ago!!! When I rushed to gate B11 -- the details are still vividly clear on my mind -- the ground attendants informed me that boarding has completed few minutes before I arrived. I tried to plead, but their decision was final. I had to book another flight in the morning. It was all okay and I was blaming no one but myself until I realized: Why didn't they even page for my name???
It depends on the type of company that you're working for in Qatar, but for private ones, they usually provide their employees a residence permit (RP) with one year validity. In some cases when applying for a VISA, some embassies might direct you to renew your RP once it becomes less than 6 months valid but mostly, not. And since one year is not too long and will disappear in a blink of an eye, it's always 100% advisable to double check your RP's validity when you're traveling. This can be a major flaw especially once the immigration officer notices that you only have let's say 30 days remaining as a bonafide resident of Qatar.
My flight to Kathmandu was already booked for the next day when my HR couldn't figure out why the Metrash 2 app can't scan my RP number to apply for an exit permit. We tried looking for a reason behind the failed attempt and were surprised to know that my Qatar ID was actually expired on that actual day -- thus the mishap. Good thing my ticket was refundable within 24 hours! I may have cancelled the month-long planned trip but I didn't lose a single Riyal. Luck is still on my side!
When I decided to go back home Christmas of 2016, I had two big boxes full of gifts for my friends and loved ones and two bags for my stuff. I already have an idea from the very start that it's likely for me to go beyond the 30KG limit -- which really happened! Having 37.5KG on my plate, I needed to leave the second bag -- brimming with chocolates -- to a random airport staff so that I could solve the dilemma and quickly move on to the immigration phase, as time is as well running out. It was a lot of stress.
We wrote the word 'beforehand' in capslock for a number of reasons. First, no one ever passes the immigration line without it. Second, it's abstract and not printed so make sure it's all settled before setting foot in the HIA. And last, the processing is real easy -- it won't take much of your time! Applying for an exit permit is without a doubt one of the most overlooked travel documents for expatriates working in the Gulf region so don't end up forgetting such or the Immigration will be your final destination!
After everything's been laid out for my business trip to Istanbul, I never imagined that I'll be forgetting to apply for an exit permit as I'm currently under my company's sponsorship. In the immigration line, the officer's wondering why my face can't be scanned. He tried several more times until he realized the root issue: I don't have an exit permit! In that instance, I was left with no choice but to call my HR at three in the morning just so I can pass through. If fate wasn't a friend of mine and if applying wasn't that instant, I will never see how beautifully-diverse Istanbul was!
At the end of the day, what matters most is not the mistakes that we made. But the lessons that we learned from these 'flaws' and 'glitches.' Besides, this article won't be possible if I weren't that immature to commit such -- so in a way, I'm still thankful.
Are you also a frequent traveler who have experienced at least one of the above-mentioned airport mishaps? If yes, share us your experience in the comment section below! Also, don't forget to like and share this article -- it keeps us going!
(Cover image courtesy of IStock Photos)
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