Once again, Cathie and I are in route to Brunei. I can never seem to get the whole Brunei emigration control business right. The last time we visited there were a few days we could not get out of the country because of a visa violation . This time, on route in Toronto, I was almost refused a boarding pass because of a problem with my passport.
Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with my passport. The problem is that it expires on 9 June 2014, which is exactly 1 day less than 6 months on the day I was in Toronto standing at the Cathay Pacific check-in counter. Something I was totally unaware of is that Brunei has a rule that a passport must have at least 6 months before expiry to be valid for entry. I was one day short and therefore my passport was, according the Cathay Pacific employee standing in front of me, not valid. Even though I had sent my passport to the Bruneian High Commission in Ottawa and had their visa stamp authorizing my visit, this somewhat overly scrupulous check-in clerk said she could not issue me a boarding pass.
I was crushed!
After much negotiation with a supervisor and their calls to somewhere (Hong Kong I think) they finally agreed to let me on their aircraft to Hong Kong. But this was only after I signed a waiver saying that I would not hold Cathay Pacific responsible for flying with them while knowing that I might not be able to continue my journey to Brunei. I was very relieved to be getting on the flight but also very worried. What if Royal Brunei Airlines, our next carrier, picked up on the same issue. Throughout that entire flight from Toronto to Hong Kong my head was just full of worst case scenarios. I had visions of being stuck in Hong Kong's airport just like the Tom Hanks character played in the movie 'The Terminal'. I had also alerted my daughter and son-in-law of the problem and they made calls to their contacts in Brunei in anticipation that I might be refused boarding. Eventually, in Hong Kong, Cathie and I were very nervous individuals as we approached the Royal Brunei Airline check-in counter.
As it turned out, that check-in process went without a hitch and we arrived in Brunei on schedule. Immigration in Brunei (the people who would really have had a problem with my passport if there was one) also processed us without comment. All-in-all, that check-in person in Toronto and my imagination were the cause of all my angst.
All is well now and we are in Brunei blissfully getting to know our grandkids again.
“I’m Not the Sexist Pig You’re Looking For” - I was recently interviewed onstage at George Washington University by Michelle Boorstein, a religion reporter for the Washington Post. The next day, Boorst...
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