|Leaving on a jet plane. Almost|
The most unpleasant and unbelievable thing happened to me in all my years of globe trotting. While embarking on my photo tour to South Africa, I was denied boarding on the British Airways plane because of an obscure SA immigration regulation that says, " ... all non South African nationals' passports must contain at least 1 unused visa page for entry/departure endorsements by South African Immigration Service. This does not include the page reserved for "Observations" or "Amendments and Endorsements"
Due to my frequent foreign travels, I have a half unused visa page left but can still accommodate an entry and exit stamp, plus 2 blank Endorsement pages on my passport. Immigration officials in other countries routinely put their stamps on these pages. Despite my pleas, the BA staff refused to let me on the plane due to an abundance of caution because they said the Immigration Officer at the port of entry can deny me admittance for the above technicality. I could have taken my chances but decided it was not worth the risk, in case the immigration officer got out of the wrong side of bed that morning.
As many of you know, this is a long holiday weekend in the U.S. The earliest I can have an appointment with the US Passport Office is Tuesday, in order to get additional passport pages. Right now is the peak season for South African safaris. All my travel and lodge arrangements are fixed and cannot be changed. By the time I get the additional passport pages and arrive in South Africa, my safari reservations will be almost over and the extra costs I have to incur to get there late will only add insult to injury. So I ended up back home and the whole trip is a complete loss.
Next week, I am going into the Passport Office and getting a new book with 52 pages. Hopefully, this will last me a while because there are still many foreign trips on my schedule coming up. I have this piece of advice to all my readers, get the passport with the most pages when you apply for one. One has to be philosophical about these things. Looking on the bright side, this will give me a little more time (unexpected) to go over images from my past trips. I am so far behind on processing my pics from years past. You can see my wildlife photos from previous tours, including South Africa, on MichaelDanielHo.com