May 6, 2017
Okay, so this just happened.
For whatever reason, the Philippines was added to the list of countries not allowed to transit through China without a visa. Here’s what happened as I could recall.
We got into our boarding gate. The staff was checking people’s passports, and when I showed mine, she led me to the desk where I was turned over to the desk lady.
Desk lady: Do you have a transit visa?
Me: No, because I don’t need one.
Desk lady: You need a transit visa to go through China.
Me: Oh, I don’t. I was just there a week ago (shows the stamp in my passport)
We then went to the entire You-need-a-visa/No-I-don’t repetitive discourse. The Desk Guy passes through, and they talk in Dutch.
Desk lady: Unfortunately, you need a transit visa. My senior says you are required to. So we cannot allow you to board this flight unless you have your visa.
Me: I don’t have a visa though. What can I do?
Desk lady: You can apply for a Chinese transit visa. I think it only takes a couple of days.
Me: I can’t leave the airport though, my Schengen visa is valid only for today.
Desk lady: Oh, then I guess you have to stay in the airport.
Me: Can I google the visa requirements?
Desk lady: Sure.
Me: (after googling, shows her my phone) See, in the embassy site, it is says that I don’t need a visa for 24 hour transits. This is the Philippine Chinese embassy site. Here’s the travel china immigration site. They all say I don’t need one.
Desk lady: I’m sorry, but we follow the communications we’re given.
Me: Can I talk to the senior guy?
Desk lady: Sure, we can wait for him.
The senior guy comes in, and shows me a list of countries that are not allowed to travel without visa. It’s a printed paper (no embassy logo whatsover) with “Philippines” manually written in blank ink at the bottom. The top countries are middle eastern, the bottom Asian (I distinctly remember Malaysia). I told the guy everything I told the desk lady, including the fact that I just passed through China a week ago.
Senior guy: I’m sorry, we follow the regulations given to us by the immigration. Immigration rules change by the day.
The desk lady and the senior guy then talk in Dutch, and based on the key words, it seems that the desk lady was telling him that based on immigration rules per embassy, I am allowed to transit. The Senior guy answers that their list is the official one, directly communicated by the immigration office of Xiamen. Again, they are talking in Dutch and I don’t speak Dutch. This is based on body language and key English words.
Me: Ok, so what do I do now?
Senior guy: I’m offloading you the flight now. But don’t worry, I’ll take care of you. Even if I have to book you a transit through KL.
Me: What about my luggage?
Senior guy: We’re offloading it too. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you, but after I’ve finished boarding this flight. Go to the boarding area and wait for me.
Me: Ok, thank you.
I was in a panic. My friend called our flight organizer (abroad!) to tell them that I’ll need a new ticket. I don’t know what I should do – do I book a new one? All the tickets are expensive, and they go through countries where I would need a visa. AND I’m gonna miss my class. Haha. After AN HOUR of all these concerns going in my head at which I have googled the closest direct flight to Tokyo or flights passing through ASEAN countries, I was approached by the Senior guy.
Senior guy: Here’s your flight, direct to Narita in an hour. I apologize but I have to follow the regulations otherwise we will be fined.
Me: Thank you! (I was just glad I have a flight!) I understand.
Then I went off and got on the plane.
Then I arrived in Narita.
My luggage didn’t.