Hours early at the airport and almost missed our flight!
I heard so many scary stories from fellow backpackers who had to purchase insanely priced flight tickets last minute at the airport. I’ve always been uncomfortable with immigration borders. It turned out that airline companies seems to be even worse.
After more than eight years of indefinite travels, here we are in Australia at the Brisbane airport. The airline company has just refused to give us our flight tickets to Bali because we don’t have any proof of exiting the country. I’ve been able to enter Chile, Peru, Ecuador and even Australia with a one-way ticket, but not Bali ? One of the world’s top destinations for backpackers, nomads, digital workers…. Moreover, we had researched on the website of our French embassy before making our schedule, it was noted that the exit flight out was not required. I also had many feedbacks of travellers in Bali who had entered with a one-way ticket as well.
Of course we were already tight on schedule because we also had to check a surfboard in as oversized luggage and had to go through the tax refund office as well.
Luckily, I am a member of the awesome Facebook group Girls LOVE Travel. A few weeks ago, I asked for advices to other fellow travelers and I’ve been recommended the FlyOnward website that truly saved our asses.
FlyOnward is a website allowing you to rent a flight ticket during 24h for USD$9.99 or during 48h for USD$16.99.
It helps you to enter a country requiring a proof that you will be leaving this country within the allowed time.
Basically, they buy a ticket and cancel it for you 24h later.
This is very convenient if, like me, you sometimes try to go with the flow. You may not know how long you’ll be staying in a country or where you are going next.
I didn’t think any further, I took a deep breath and followed the advice to rent two tickets for 24h. As soon as I pressed “confirm payment”, I started starring at my inbox. Suddenly, all I could hear was my heartbeat counting down the time. Seconds felt like minutes…
And when JB returned from the counter to tell me that check in was going to close in 8 minutes, Minutes started to feel like hours…
As we were traveling with surfboards, our tickets were already quite expensive. Buying new ones into Bali last minute would definitely not be in our budget.
After a wait which felt like endless, I finally received the tickets… my heart speeded up when I opened them… and stopped when I realized the agent made a mistake and purchased both tickets under my name… Damn it!
Five minutes left before the counter closes. I purchased another ticket for JB and sent him to start my check in while I was staring again at my empty inbox.
The airline company agent was kind enough to let us both go with the first ticket, otherwise we would miss the flight. The second ticket arrived about 15 minutes later which could have been too late.
We rushed through the security check, crossed the immigration, finally arrived at the tax refund office… closed. The application we spent an hour preparing and filling the day before was just useless. We had to do it all over again manually. It felt like taking ages. Our flight was already boarding. Hearts beating, palms sweating…
Last step but not least: Duty free shop. We never ever buy anything there, but this time we had to buy a bottle of wine to thank our friends for welcoming us in Bali. We quickly chose a bottle but struggled to find a cashier available.
Those duty free shops seem to be very popular!
Then, just like in the movie, the old woman in front of us was endlessly counting each cent of her purse to pay her bill. The queue was not moving and we could hear the final call for boarding our flight.
We ran to our gate… last minute. But we made it!
Moral of the story : As per their website, FlyOnward can take up to 6 hours to provide you with a ticket if you purchase during their opening hours. (I didn’t know first and I realized that we got very lucky to receive them so quickly!).
If you are not sure of the requirements of a country or an airline regarding proof of exit, always choose the safest option, it might save you a lot of time, money and grey hair!!!
Other option is to try and book the FlyOnward ticket ahead. I know they have the possibility to do it but I haven’t tried it, so if you have, let me know!
I got so overwhelmed, that I wrote this article right from the plane. As I sit back and enjoy this flight to Bali, I’m thinking that the first thing I’ll do when I get there will be purchasing my flight back to France! 😉
Safe travels to you!
Three months later, after emailing 3 times the FlyOnward company to ask for the refund of their mistake, right after it happened and also later on, I never ever heard back from them.
FlyOnward: YES OR NO?
I’d say if you can avoid it, then do it, it is safer. If you really don’t have another option, then it can be a rescue plan. The concept is interesting, however, this company doesn’t seem to me that they are entirely reliable. Maybe you can share a similar company that you have experienced?