I don’t know about you but for some reason I always get sweaty palms when going through customs in a new country. Even though I shouldn’t have anything to worry about, there’s always a flicker of doubt in the back of my mind that I might be turned back around! Thankfully, it’s never happened to me but that’s not the case for some travellers. Today we interview travel blogger, Roobens Fils, from Been Around the Globe, about the time he was denied entry to a country… after he’d already arrived!
When travel goes wrong: Denied entry to a country
1. It’s great to have you here, Roobens! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey! I’m Roobens, from Paris, France. I used to have an office job, 9 to 5, for several years. But then the company I worked for decided to lay off employees and I had to leave. This is when I started blogging, and I traveled full time for a year. I’m now back home, still blogging, but also working as a freelance copywriter and translator (English-French).
2. Okay, let’s set the scene. What were your travel plans for this particular trip?
Pretty simple, I was in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei and I was supposed to take a flight go to Manila, Philippines.
3. Not everything went to plan on this trip. What happened?
I took my flight in Brunei (at noon), and two hours later, I landed in Manila. I just had to go through customs before heading to my hotel. The customs officer asked for my hotel reservation and my onward ticket. I handed him the reservation, and I told him ‘I don’t have an onward ticket yet, I’ll buy it in a few days’. And the guy told me I couldn’t get in the country without an onward ticket.
I asked him to give me the WiFi password, so that I could buy an onward ticket straight away but he wasn’t listening anymore. They made me wait in a small room and put me in the next flight back to Brunei, 30 minutes later. Back in Brunei after two more hours on a plane, I had to buy a new flight ticket to Manila (flight at 11pm the same day), plus an onward ticket to be able to get into the country.
4. That sounds super annoying, not to mention expensive! How much did it cost you in total?
I wasted more or less 12 hours of my life but it didn’t cost that much. I paid 90 euros for my first flight to Manila (the one at noon), and 60 euros for my second flight (the one at 11pm). That’s basically what I lost. They wanted me to pay for the flight from Manila to Brunei, but when an airline sends you back to your departure city, it’s at their expense (most people don’t know that). So in total I spent 150 euros.
5. Could you claim any of this on travel insurance?
Unfortunately no, the customs officers have the last word when it comes to accepting visitors into the country. Travel insurance cannot help in this case.
6. Have you learnt anything from the experience?
Yes, always check beforehand if customs will ask for an onward ticket and if so, get one!
Looking to read more accounts of travel plans going wrong? Check out our other interviews:
- When Travel Goes Wrong: A Sick Child in a Foreign Hospital
- When Travel Goes Wrong: Dengue Fever in Cambodia
- When Travel Goes Wrong: Stranded in a Tropical Cyclone!
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Have you ever been denied entry to a country? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!