Random Encounter Monday: No. 3 – The Check-In Lady

“I’m sorry sir, we can’t let you fly without a visa.”

I was trying to leave Christchurch in New Zealand and return to China, via Hong Kong. It shouldn’t have been an issue. Apparently it was.

“Visa? I don’t need a visa to go to Hong Kong, I’m a British citizen.”

She looked down at her screen.

“I’m sorry sir.” I could tell she wasn’t really. “It says here that people from British Overseas Territories and the British Antarctic Territory are the only ones that can go to Hong Kong without a visa.”

I was somewhat indignant.

“Are you telling me that a native of the Falkland Islands and/or penguins can go but I can’t?”


“Listen love,” I said haughtily “I don’t need a visa, until 1997 we bloody owned Hong Kong. Look in my passport, how many Hong Kong entrance stamps are there?”

She looked. There were a lot.

“Now, how many Hong Kong visas are in there?”

She looked again. There were none.

“I’ll get the supervisor,” she said and shuffled off her slightly too high chair.

I saw her and another lady converse for a moment, they both wondered over.

“Hi I’m Jill, Sally here’s explained what’s happening. I’m afraid we can’t let you on the plane without a visa.”

I took a deep breath and tried to refrain from smashing my forehead against the counter. Once again, I explained about Britain, the Empire, the first and second Opium Wars, international treaties and even pulled out a map of the world, shaded pink to show the empire – pointing with emphasis at New Zealand. I finished with what I thought was the most compelling evidence; to wit, the entrance stamps in my passport and the lack of a visa.

“Ah well, that doesn’t prove anything” said Jill.

I looked at her stonily. “Other than the fact that I have been to Hong Kong without a visa?”

“I’ll get the manager” said Jill.

And that’s when I started to cry.

13 Replies to “Random Encounter Monday: No. 3 – The Check-In Lady”

  1. Ayayay. This reminds me of the case of the lady that had to bring her husbands ashes to TMobile for them to cancel his contract.
    I hope they didn’t require any “human” evidence from you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! I’ve found, when encountering transit issues while traveling abroad, there is a delicate balance to knowing when to play the ‘I’m an American, damn it!” card, or the ‘Please allow me to kiss your ass till I get what I want’ card. The Ugly American Act works almost…never. The Ass Kissing Act…well, I’ve shamelessly refined that to an art. Flattery may not get you everywhere, but if applied skillfully it will get you from Point A to Point B. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Clearly you’ve never encountered British immigration. The most humourless people on the face of the Earth. Flattery will only serve to get you detained under the Terrorism Act. Probably.

      In fact the only time I encountered any form of flattery was when I was coming back into Thailand and I got chatted up by the immigration lady and her friend.

      Whilst sounding like the intro to a terrible porn film (‘we’d love to stamp your passport sir…but first you need to stamp ours’ *baw wicka cha*) I hurriedly pointed to my wedding ring and they gave up.


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting. As a Commonwealth nation that surprises me. Usually canadians rarely get questioned but us yanks are a different story. I regret not applying for citizenship when i lived in Canada


  3. We Canadians can get anywhere we wish to go because the check-in people know if they ask us anything we`ll either say, “eh…“ which they won`t understand, or “sorry“ and they won`t know why. So they don`t ask us anything, and just let us in. Works every time. Just give it a shot, you`ll see.


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