Angry Rant: Proof Of Onward Travel

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Rant, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ah yes, the old proof of onward travel or POOT as so many like to call it. Let me tell you where you can stick your POOT! Do I have an issue with rules themselves? Not at all. The reason I’m on the verge of going ape shit on my laptop screen is the obvious lack of consistency when it comes to airlines and security officials enforcing the POOT. My experience so far lies solely in the clusterfuck that is the POOT rules of Thailand. The rules are pretty clear cut on the Thai embassy website I guess but trying to figure out who is going to ask what and when and where they will ask it is quite frankly aggravating. Being a former travel agent and someone who is doing research each day on my upcoming trip I am fully aware of the rules. I know that as a Canadian I can receive a 30 day visa exemption when I arrive provided I prove some POOTY. As a former travel agent I’m also fully aware that it is almost never asked by Thai immigration officials. Now the more I read the more I begin to see that it is the airlines that request this info when you check in. You see, if Thai immigration requests the info (which they never do!) and you can’t provide it you will be denied entry and the airline is then responsible to bring you home, on their dime. All this then of course depends on the airline and maybe even how the agent is feeling that day. Maybe her boyfriend has been cheating on her and she wants to make my life difficult because I’m a filthy male, just like her ex. Okay, maybe not. My airline and itinerary though has lead me to conclude that it is highly likely I will be asked. I am traveling on a Canadian passport with an American carrier (Delta) with a stop in the US and Japan before my final destination of Bangkok. I of course have a one way booked as that is how I enjoy to roll. OK. Simple solution, I plan to travel overland as much as possible so I’ll just book some transportation to Laos around 25 days after my arrival thus proving POOT within my 30 day visa exemption and keep crazy angry airline agent girl appeased right? NO!!!!!!!!!!! The only POOT an airline can actually verify is air travel. Well that’s just awesome!

So what do people in these situations? God knows I’m not the first person to head to Thailand on a one way with further plans of crossing into Cambodia or Laos by land. Some of the things people resort to though are crazy, genius and some downright illegal. I’ve read of people grabbing a super cheap ticket with AirAsia or Nok Air to show as POOT, of course they have no intention of boarding the flight, $60 for a piece of paper is better than being turned away from your flight I guess, these are called ‘throw away flights’. Some of the more risky and even downright insane schemes I’ve heard are booking a flight, printing the e-ticket then cancelling right away. Some airlines fully refund if cancelled within 24 hours. Of course if the agent goes as far to check the reservation and discovers it is cancelled, well you’re screwed. Some people purchase a business class or full fare economy ticket that is refundable then cancel it once they reach their destination. This works if you have thousands of dollars available to be tied up on your credit card until you cancel. I’ve even heard of people creating fake e-tickets from old e-tickets in their email. Are you insane? At least if you can’t prove POOT you can get on your smartphone and book a cheap flight on the spot and show it to the agent. But if you try pulling one of these stunts and get caught then there’s a good chance you’re not boarding.


So what am I going to do? Yesterday I was real close to booking a cheapy flight out of Thailand on my 29th day with no intention of using it. By the time the flight left I’d probably already be in Laos. Instead I’ve decided to do it all legal, like Bugsy Seagal. Yes I just quoted Snoop Dogg from Gangsta Party. Thailand has a 60 day visa for $40 that can be obtained in advance. When you have this visa the issue of showing POOT to the airline is gone. You’ve already been granted entry into Thailand (barring no security issue) and they have no responsibility. They way I look at is the $40 is less than what the throw away flight was going to be and I’ve allowed myself more time (legally) in Thailand. Living in the national capital region of Canada means getting this done should be easy as I can visit the embassy. I’m glad I’ve only booked my first few nights in Bangkok, the idea of a 60 day visa now has my head filled with ideas of other places in the country I can visit without a time constraint. Another beauty with the 60 day visa is it can be extended another 30 days for 1900 Baht, roughly $60-$65 CAD. I won’t need this option but you never know.

So thus concludes my barrage of rage on POOT. I feel a little better. Thanks for listening. But please! Airlines and everyone else involved, get on the same page, enforce the rules consistently so travelers know what to expect and know what to do in advance. Vagabonds and hobos are people too!!! We just don’t know what the hell we are doing or where we are going or when we are leaving.



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