The Man Who Was Detained
Ugh! I have soooo many updates! I've been so busy tap dancing all over the world! Let's get to it!
First, let me tell you the story of the man who was detained. Let's call this man.....Mike*.
*Names have been changed to make sure the identity of said man remains concealed.
Y'all know I have flight benefits (Thanks, Dad). One of my dear friends does too. Then come to find out his friend, Mike, also has benefits, perfect. I decided to take the Monday-Wednesday before Thanksgiving off from work so we could put our flight benefits to good use.
After much deliberation, we selected to fly into Singapore, spend a day or two there (I have a friend that lives there and Plumby's cousin lives there too), and then hop over to Thailand. (United flies directly to Singapore from SFO and AirAsia is amazing bc all their flights are like $20 between different Asian countries, #winning).
On departure day, each of us left Houston according to our schedules. Mike first, then Plumby, then me because I had to go into the office that day. We reunited at SFO and watched the flight to Singapore anxiously. If you've ever flown standby, you know it's a game of monitoring the standby list, taking the hypotenuse of the right triangle and comparing it to the seat map and then using the quadratic equation to determine your probability of getting a seat on the plane. Ha.
Long story short, we all make the flight (even though the gate agent was playing like she didn't want to let us onto the plane). We were handed boarding passes, all middle seats in economy plus for a 17 hour flight............................................. (preciate the leg room tho, boo). They scanned the boarding passes, checked our passports (remember this important fact for later) and we boarded the flight. I spent the next 17 hours stuck between a lady with big hips who kept shifting in her seat and a left handed man who elbowed me every time we he ate something. Fortunately, I bought a fresh pack of ZZZQuil before my flight and as often as I could, I woke the big hipped lady in the aisle seat up so I could go stretch.
The plane lands in Singapore, we get off and head to the immigration checkpoint. My friend requested that I stop into the duty free store and purchase him a few libations. So when I received my stamp, I headed over to get a head start on making my purchases. The lines were super long, everyone was buying liquor (they all knew the game), the prices for a bottle in Singapore are like twice what they are in the airport.
I'm in line for a hot second b/c the couple in front of me is being indecisive. Let me tell you how much I enjoyed watching them make their decision after a 17 hour flight in a middle seat.
I was SURE Plumby and Mike would be waiting for me with a foot tapping when I finished. I scanned the crowd, located Plumby, then scanned again for Mike who was no where to be found. I walked over to Plumb and the following exchange occurred.
Me: Hey, I'm done. Where's Mike?
Plumb: You won't believe this. His passport is expired so they won't let him into the country.
Plumb: Yeah so they took him over into the detention area and I don't know what's about to happen.
For about 10 mins, we stood there in shock, staring at each other with mouths agape. Then we spent the next hour making calls to the embassy. Another important fact: It was Sunday when we landed. The embassy was closed for the weekend.....facepalm.
The customs agents came out to communicate with us, as best they could....which required lots of repetition and really hard concentrating bc they had super thick accents. We were eventually told that he would not be allowed to enter the country at all that day. Instead he would have to spend the night in detention and would be escorted to the embassy the next morning when they opened.
At this point, I have questions. Many of which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- How is it that he made it onto the plane at both IAH and SFO without anyone noticing? THEY CHECKED OUR PASSPORTS, I SAW THEM DO IT.
- How did you not notice this when filing out your entry documents?
- How did you not know your passport was expired?
- Just, how? Who, what, where, why and how?
What did we do next, you ask? We left him, lol. He wasn't going anywhere and there was nothing we could do. *shrugs* We caught an Uber to Plumb's cousin's house and went on with the remainder of our day. Our original plan was to leave for Bangkok early the next morning but since our travel companion was shackled, we had to rearrange some things.
The next morning, Plumb went to the airport to figure out what was going on. They had confiscated Mike's phone, iPad and every other device he could have used to contact us. When Plumb returned, without Mike, I was confused. He informed me that by the time he got back to the airport, Mike had already been forced to purchase a return on the first thing smoking back to the US. He would not be allowed to enter the country, even to get a temporary passport from the embassy, b/c his passport had been expired for something like 3 MONTHS. Not days, MONTHS.
So we booked our flight to Bangkok and went on about our way.....
But the story doesn't end there. Mike got back to SFO and decided that he wanted to be on this trip, badly. So he got that passport renewed, yes he did, and hopped on another plane. This dude met us in Phuket, y'all. I'm not lying.
Basically, he flew 17 hours 3 times, plus some. Let's do the math. 17 x 3 = 51. Then, lets just say Singapore to Phuket was another 3 hours.....That's 54 HOURS of flight time over the course of like 5 days. A typical work week is 40 hours! This man flew like it was his literal job, and did some overtime, like 2 days worth! Ain't no way. Ain't no way I would have done all that. I would have picked my face up off the ground, tucked tail and gone home. That right there is dedication. I may not have ever been so dedicated to anything in my whole life.
The moral of this story is......MAKE SURE YOU CHECK YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS.
Most countries require that you have 3-6 months remaining before your passport expires. You should know the date or at least the year when your passport expires when you're traveling internationally. You don't want to get hemmed up in a less developed country where no one speaks English. Can you imagine? Nah fam.