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Saturday, March 24, 2007


Travellers' ripoffs – onward tickets

It seems that the majority of travellers are on a short-term trip with definite plans. They know where they're going and when they'll return home. Their bookings are made before they leave their home country.

A small percentage of us are long-term travellers. We often have vague or indefinite plans. We like having the freedom to change our minds.

Those who make the rules make them for the majority. Rules are not always flexible enough to cope with free-spirited travellers. But the world is changing – slowly.

Most countries have rules that require travellers entering by plane to have either a return or onward ticket. This does not acccommodate the needs of those who arrive by air and leave by land. As I said, the world is changing, despite the rules, immigration officers can be flexible. In four years of travelling in South-east Asia, I do not remember being asked by an immigration officer to show my onward or return ticket. If only the airlines realized this...

Whenever I fly into a country on a one-way ticket, the airline invariably insists that I have a return or onward ticket. They are apparently concerned that I will be rejected by immigration and they'll have to return me to my home country at their cost. But the reality is that I am never rejected, which makes me wonder how often it happens.

I accept that the airlines need to cover themselves for the odd time it does happen. But why should I pay for ticket that I have no intention of using – which is my way of handling the problem? I'd be happy to pay a reasonable insurance premium that would cover me in the unlikely event that I am rejected. Unfortunately, the airlines have me over a barrel and I'm obliged to fork out for the cheapest air ticket I can find out of the country. And I keep asking why???

The immigration officials have changed. When are the airlines going to catch up?

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