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I Missed My Flight, Nearly Obtained Denied Entry To Qatar

I delight myself in being fairly good in the case of flying. No, not flying planes, however moderately reserving airline tickets (whether or not with money or miles), determining the sophisticated logistics of touring, by no means lacking a flight, rebooking with ease within the case of irregular operations, and so on.

A overwhelming majority of the time I get issues proper in the case of these things… after which there’s what occurred to us at Velana Worldwide Airport (MLE) within the Maldives. I’m type of embarrassed, however I’ll share it anyway.

I didn’t fill out Qatar’s pre-travel kind

After a tremendous 11 nights within the Maldives, it was time to slowly return dwelling. We had been first flying from Male to Doha in Qatar Airways firstclass, after which we’d spend a few nights in Doha. I used to be particularly trying ahead to this flight, because it was operated by a leased Cathay Pacific Boeing 777.

We took the seaplane from the 4 Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, and arrived on the Qatar Airways check-in counter at round 4:30PM for our 7:45PM flight to Doha. We had loads of time to spare, or so we thought.

Qatar Airways check-in Male Airport

I handed over our passports and our PCR exams (required to enter Qatar) to the consultant, and we had been requested for our ultimate vacation spot. After I stated Doha, the dialog went one thing like this:

Agent: “Can I see your Ehteraz kind?”
Me: “Sorry, what’s that?”
Agent: “The authorization wanted to journey to Qatar.”
Me: “I assumed I learn that the pre-travel authorization kind was optionally available and was simply meant to hurry up the arrivals course of? We’ve our PCR exams and proof of vaccination, together with booster.”
Agent: “No, we are able to’t allow you to board except you’ve gotten been authorised.”
Me: “Oh… are you aware how lengthy that takes?”
Agent: “Typically it’s quick, and typically it’s not.”

Okay, you’re in all probability questioning how I screwed this up. In any case, I’ve traveled internationally fairly a bit through the pandemic, and haven’t had a single situation preserving observe of journey restrictions and entry necessities, each for me and my household.

After all I checked out Qatar’s Ministry of Public Well being web site previous to journey, but in some way I didn’t interpret it accurately:

  • On some degree I in all probability have pointless paperwork fatigue, given the variety of types that I’ve crammed out over the previous two years; on prime of that, with restrictions easing, there aren’t as many journey types as there was, so perhaps I used to be simply assuming {that a} international journey hub was now making it straightforward to go to
  • I don’t suppose Qatar’s web site about journey necessities is especially clear; I scrolled right down to the part for “guests,” and nowhere there does it point out needing to finish the pre-travel authorization, however moderately it simply talks in regards to the testing requirement
  • I noticed different sections that referenced how “your pre-travel on-line registration will assist speed up your passage and clearance on the port of arrival for a greater arrival expertise in Qatar,” which makes it sound prefer it’s optionally available moderately than required

I’ve taken some journeys currently with optionally available pre-travel types, and located them to be an enormous waste of time, and that’s how I interpreted this as properly. I ought to have erred on the facet of warning and crammed out the shape, although.

Let me be clear, I settle for full duty right here. There are sections that state these pre-travel types are required, however I do suppose this may very well be spelled out extra clearly.

Points with Qatar’s pre-travel kind

Initially I wasn’t actually frightened. Most nations that require you to fill out some pre-travel kind both have an on the spot approval course of, or the purposes get processed inside minutes. Male Airport isn’t precisely an awesome place to need to do get something accomplished in your laptop computer, between the spotty Wi-Fi (and really sluggish tethering), plus the entire lack of seating within the departures space (there are actually zero seats close to check-in).

So I merely sat down on the ground close to the check-in desk. Inside about quarter-hour I managed to fill out the types and submit them. Lower than 10 minutes later I obtained an e mail indicating that our purposes had been processed — woot, I figured every thing was good. Then I went to the appliance, and the standing was listed as “return for motion.” There was a remark stating the next:

“Pricey passengers, Kindly present your V-safe display shot for verification. Thankyou.”

Sorry, say what? I requested the check-in agent if she knew what V-Secure is, and he or she stated she had by no means heard of it. I additionally checked out Qatar’s web site, and there was no reference to this. So I did some Googling, and plainly it’s a CDC vaccination well being checker program, no matter that’s.

I had by no means heard of this earlier than, and for that matter I haven’t wanted that when for journey because the begin of the pandemic.

Okay, I figured I’d attempt to sign-up for V-Secure, so I went to the official CDC web site, and bought an error message on the registration web page, saying that they couldn’t discover what I used to be in search of. I attempted on my smartphone and laptop computer, I attempted with completely different browsers, and I attempted with and and not using a VPN. Irrespective of which methodology I attempted, the location was down for upkeep (or one thing), it appears. I assume the timing is sensible, because it was a weekend.

Pretty…

The difficulty right here is that you don’t have any recourse, and no method of speaking with anybody in Qatar. It’s not like you possibly can put a notice in your profile explaining this.

So I figured my greatest wager was to strive submitting the shape once more. Consider it because the immigration model of “dangle up and name once more.” As soon as once more our software was processed inside 10 minutes. This time there was no request for V-Secure, however moderately there was a distinct downside:

“Pricey Passengers, Kindly connect your full dose CDC vaccine certificates for verification. Thanks”

The issue is that we had submitted our full vaccine certificates (together with booster) with the appliance. Admittedly US vaccine playing cards (particularly with boosters) seem like an elementary college arts & crafts challenge, however nonetheless…

So I went again into the appliance and uploaded the images once more, in hopes that perhaps somebody hadn’t seen it accurately. 10 minutes later there was a response indicating the identical downside.

We had been at a standstill — the check-in agent was beautiful however defined this was one thing she had no management over, which I can’t blame her for.

Now what?!

The station supervisor kindly bought concerned on this scenario, and tried to do every thing he might to assist. At this level we had been shortly coming to the conclusion that we in all probability weren’t going to make our flight:

  • We realized we is likely to be spending the evening in Male, which frankly I’ve been wanting to go to for a very long time, so there was a silver lining
  • Our PCR check could be expired if we traveled the subsequent day, so realistically we might have simply rebooked one thing for the subsequent day connecting in Qatar, moderately than staying there (since connections don’t require testing)

Verify-in began to shut for our flight, with the screens switching from the Qatar Airways emblem, to only the generic airport messages.

Verify-in counter at Male Airport

I knew it was dangerous information when the (moderately soiled) Qatar Airways firstclass check-in carpet was being rolled up.

Bye bye carpet!

The excellent news is that Qatar Airways has three back-to-back flights from Male to Doha, all on 777s. One is at 7:45PM, one is at 8:45PM, and one is at 9:05PM. The station supervisor promised to rebook us on one in all these if the scenario may very well be labored out.

However sadly all we might do was wait. We had been promised that somebody was engaged on the scenario within the background, so we waited and waited and waited. Earlier than we knew it, check-in was closing for the 8:45PM flight.

At this level we knew it was solely 20 minutes till check-in closed for the 9:05PM flight. Round this time we had been knowledgeable that one in all us had been licensed to take the flight, however they had been nonetheless ready for authorization for the second individual.

We saved ready. Ultimately check-in additionally closed for the 9:05PM flight. However a couple of minutes later we lastly bought the information that we had each been “cleared,” and had been instructed that upon arrival we simply needed to go to a particular desk.

We ran towards immigration and safety, and arrived at our gate about midway by way of the boarding course of. My goodness had been we excited to see this aircraft!

The Qatar Airways 777 taking us to Doha

Backside line

For the primary time because the begin of the pandemic I had points with journey restrictions. Go determine this occurred as most nations are beginning to remove limitations to journey, and even remove journey types.

Whereas I feel Qatar’s entry necessities are a bit complicated, it was in the end on me for not filling out this type prematurely. I figured that even when it wanted to be crammed out, I’d don’t have any points doing so on the airport. However this ended up being the one scenario the place that didn’t work.

We lucked out within the sense that there have been three back-to-back flights that had been broad open in firstclass, as a result of in any other case this might have been way more sophisticated. Even with that, we solely barely made our flight.

Looking back I’ve to surprise how this case would have performed out in another way even when I accomplished the shape prematurely. I’m unsure if the V-Secure web site would have been working, and for that matter I used to be additionally instructed to add my full dose card, once I was already doing that. With no quantity or e mail to attempt to get this mounted, I really feel prefer it may need been tough both method.

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