Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NOT on the airplane!!!

Ok, so Thomas's Canadian passport expired in June, we were just too busy to go renew it and his citizenship card JUST arrived last week. I figured that it would be easy to just use his Korean passport.
When our friend went to Singapore Air to verify her 3rd party payment for our tickets (my husband has no idea how to register his Korean credit cards for online shopping!), they told her Thomas would need a Visa for travel to the USA with his Korean passport.
They told her we could apply online at the ESTAS website. What she didn't realize was that we didn't have an electronic passport, and Singapore Air never mentioned that the ESTAS online Electronic Visa ONLY worked if you had an Electronic Passport!
I went on ESTAS, got Thomas his Visa and that was all. There was nothing on the main page to let me know that with a Korean Passport you needed it to be Electronic.
At the airport Singapore Air told us he could NOT fly with an E-Visa and old style passport. We either had to have a paper visa in his passport or an e-passport. I was furious! They refused to budge, stating that even though he had received his ESTAS Visa, we could not travel to the USA. I begged them to let us go and try our luck with the Customs official in the USA. After all, he has dual Canadian/Korean Citizenship, he is 16 months old and he was approved for a Visa! How hard would it be to convince someone to allow him in?!
They point blank refused, and when I demanded to speak to a superior, I was given an e-mail address to contact! At that point, I gave up and started crying. We left the counter and I called the main office in Seoul. When I spoke to the woman who answered, she told me that due to our tickets being purchased on an online special sale, they could not be changed!!! I lost it!! I started yelling and crying at the same time and told her how this was Singapore Air's fault. She asked for my number and said she would speak to a supervisor and call me back.
I then called Tom to come and pick us up and we went to KFC for a late lunch. Doumi was with me, thank goodness, or I would have completely lost it being denied boarding with a stroller, 2 suitcases and a cranky 16month old who just wanted to walk all over! singapore Air called me back after an hour and said as long as I flew before September 30th, I could change my ticket.
We came home, got new passport photos taken and we are applying for his e-passport tomorrow morning. We have been told it should take around 4 business days.
Unfortunately my brother-in-law had booked connecting tickets for us and may be out some money due to having to cancel them at such short notice. Not to mention the extremely disappointed grandparents and other family members who now have to wait a week or more for us to come. As well we had to have a notarized letter of consent for me to travel without Tom to the USA, to ensure I am not kidnapping him ins a custody dispute. That cost $100 to translate and notarize, and will now have to be re-done since the dates are wrong. This also messes up my work schedule and our plans for Chuseok when I returned.
I have always been such a careful planner, I had everything printed, notarized booked and filed for the trip. I had no idea that Singapore Air's advice would not be right! Goes to show with travel it is important to double-check everything in advance, even your passport validity and visa validity! Hopefully all will go well with his passport and we will fly next week. I'll keep everyone posted!


  1. OMG, I'm ready to cry for you right now. That's awful... ugh. The stress level must be through the roof.

    Being the customer service insister that I am, you should contact Singapore Air again, to a) let them know that they aren't providing enough information and b) about the inconvenience that you occurred due to this lack of information. Although I'm sure you just want it over with.

    Fingers crossed that you can get on that plane next week and that your trip is wonderfully relaxing and refreshing!

  2. I am usually pretty picky about customer service as I worked in customer service for 5 years before coming to Korea. I am especially harsh when I know the issue is a result of laziness on the person's part. I understand when things can be out of their control at times, but in this case they simply should have asked if we had the E-passport before recommending the site to us!I know that they were trying to help, but they assumed we had it the correct passport. I hate assumptions. I always ask, ask and ask some more! I push my hubby to do it and he hates it! Haha..I should try to speak Korean more so I can grill people over service issues I suppose. In this case, since they are allowing us to re-book the ticket and waving the re0booking fee, I am satisfied with their efforts. I don't know what more I could ask for, except to be in Texas NOW! ^.~

  3. WTF?! You had to get a NOTARIZED letter of consent? I didn't need that when I traveled alone w/SJ when he was 3 months old, or when I traveled alone w/him when he was 18 months (on KAL-whose rule is this? Singapore Air's?). Are you still sick? Maybe this is God's way of making you stay at home and rest a bit more before the big trip.^~ You'll get there soon enough!!!!That really sucks, though- all the way for nothing... You are a good girl, though- you cried- I would've punched someone!! ^~ Nice blog, btw!!

  4. I am sorry Sarah! It's such an awful experience...hope it all comes together soon :)

  5. When I was preparing for Thomas's trip last year, the Canadian Embassy recommended I prepare the letter. I was asked for it entering Canada, and then we went to Texas I was asked for it again. both times it was the Customs agent who asked, Canadian and American. I'm not sure if this is a recent change or not, but if I had not had the letter it may have been difficult to gain entry to Canada and the USA. My sister has sole custody of her son, but she was told to prepare a similar letter traveling here. It was only once she verified with the embassy that she had legal sole custody that she did not have to prepare it.
    I do still have a sinus infection, Tylenol 3 times a day keeps the cheek pain down, but who knows, maybe the flight pressure would have wreaked havoc on me! Tom had a bad dream the night before as well, and he rarely dreams so he was relieved! The crappy thing now is we're flying Tuesday but wait-listed for a return flight if we don't want to come back on original flight. I think 10 days away is not worth 24 hours of travel with a 16month old!! I need my break!