there is this rule that a lot of countries have. the onward ticket rule. basically the rule is that when you come to their country to visit, you must own an onward ticket to leave the country. this is so they have assurance that you really will leave the country instead of just sneakily staying there forever. alot of countries actually have this rule, but the thing is that prettty much no one enforces it. as long as you dont look like some hella shady character or anything, they wont care. i’ve been traveling for 8 months now and have been to 18 countries and not a single place has ever actually asked me to prove that i have an onward ticket. not one.
anyways, when we got to the airport to board our flight to japan, all of a sudden the guy at the check-in counter asks to see our onward ticket out of japan. we tell him that we dont have one yet and that we’ll buy a ticket once we get to japan. he tells us then that we are not allowed to board the flight. we tell him that basically, it’s our own problem whether or not we have this onward ticket. that this has absolutely nothing to do w/ his airline and that if japanese immigrations has an issue w/ it then we can handle it with them. he wont budge. he wont let us board w/out an onward ticket. we then get sent to customer service.
we argue back and forth w/ them for a long time and no matter what we say, they wont let us get on the plane w/out the onward ticket. even though we keep repeating that it is our own problem whether or not we have this ticket and that we have never ever ever had any issues w/ not having an onward ticket, they keep insisting that they can’t let us fly and say that allegedly, the government of japan will fine them if they let us on the plane. basically, our case is this: either a) this is a rule of the japanese govt. in this case, garuda should have nothing to do w/ it and just shut the hell up. or b) this is a rule of garuda’s in which case they should notify everyone that buys tickets through them that this is a rule that they enforce. it’s completely ridiculous to all of a sudden spring this on us at the last second, only an hour before our flight. no matter what we tell them though, they just wont listen.
finally, we give up. fine then. we’ll buy the stupid onward ticket. sell us a fully refundable ticket from japan to china. well, the other bullshit thing about garuda that i didnt mention before, is that they jack you on the exchange rate. the current exchange is 9,400 rupiah to one dollar, but garuda converts money at over 10,000 rupiah per dollar. that’s a huge difference. so basically, if we buy 2,000$ woth of tix from them, we basically get hit with a 120$ dollar fee. i cant believe they get away w/ that. then, on top of that, the “fully refundable” tix cost 50$ to refund. so basically, by buying these refundable tix from them, we are losing 170$ altogether. quite a bit of money. ugh.
but, what can we do?? our flight is about to leave. we’re starting to get nervous. we have no choice. i hand over my credit card. the customer service takes it’s own sweet time helping us. they help some other customers first, spend forever on the computer, etc etc. finally they ring us up…. and my card gets declined. oh crap. apparently i only had like 2,200$ in my acct and the tix cost like 2,600. we start arguing w/ them again. they just wont listen to anything we have to say. we tell them, that my little brother (sure he’s actually 24, but we exaggerate to make him sound like just a little boy) is flying in to tokyo and we are to meet him at the airport. if we dont get on this flight, my little brother, who has never been in a foreign country alone, will be stranded all alone at the airport and we have no way of contacting him. they dont care.
time is ticking away. when there is 10 minutes to take off, they tell us it’s too late. they wont let us fly. FUCK. i’m totally freaking out. we CANT miss that flight. we were ready to leave.. we’re at the damn airport. plus, what would my brother do??? arrrggghhhh!! so i say, screw the china tickets. sell us anything. tickets to korea, whatever you got. just sell me two of the cheapest tix out of japan… i NEED to get on the flight. they say once again that it’s too late. i ask them if they can just hold the flight for *10* minutes. it’s *their* fault we aremissing our flight. they screwed us over. just please please help us out. hold the flight for 10 minutes and sell us some tickets. we’ll pay the extra fees. we’ll do anything. my brother’s gonna be lost at the airport wondering where we are. please… PLEASE.. please??? the guy just flatly says no. he wont. garuda has one of the worst records for being on time out of any airline. they are *consistantly* late and hardly ever on time, but this one time he cant hold a flight for a couple of minutes.
i pretty much totally lost it at this point. i was yelling, swearing, throwing my bags around their office. i was insanely pissed. i couldnt believe that we actually missed our damn flight because of these bastards. i hate garuda airlines soooo much. i just cant believe how much they suck. but what can you do. eventually we got our stuff, and left the airport. the next day was utter hell as we searched the internet to find fully refundable tix out of japan. most internet sites dont really clarify whether or not their tix are refundable or not. eventually though, we found some tix that we *think* are refundable, and got on the flight to tokyo.. 24 hours late.
oh, and in case you’re wondering…. no, of course japan didnt give a crap about onward tickets. when we got to immigration, they didnt even ask about that. thanks a lot garuda.