Watch Your Passport

A 777-300 has 55 rows of seats, mostly with 10 seats, so the full 6pm flight from Dubai to Rome was carrying more than 500 passengers. Gary & Julie were sitting in the last row. This is the story of why.

After 17 hours of travelling, we arrived in Dubai mid morning Wednesday with about 3 hours to takeoff for the final leg to Rome. Dubai’s four air terminals are huge – I would say each many times bigger than Sydney’s International air terminal. We arrived at Terminal A, passed out through security and caught the 5 minute fast train to Terminal B, requiring a further security check and a very long walk to Gate 58 to checkin for the next flight. Gary’s passport was missing! No passport, no flight, even for Julie because they offload all luggage linked to a no show passenger.

I knew where the passport had been but could I get it back? I had the passport when I passed through the two checkpoints and Julie held it for me while I retrieved my Boarding Pass, 15 minutes and a kilometre before. Julie stayed with the backpacks at the checkin and I sprinted back through the terminal. No sign. Retracing back to the first terminal, telling the story so many times to sympathetic officials (with broken English) required 2 more train trips. Still no sign so back to checkin, hoping the blue passport had been handed in. No such luck and our plane left with two seats in row 15 empty.

What’s next? First priority inform the Police. All the officials that I had spoken to had tried to contact them but they never answered the phone! If the document could be found we could rebook on later flight otherwise I would need the Australian Embassy to issue replacement papers. How long would that take while I had to sleep in the terminal? Julie and I set out to found the police.

Reporting to the police proved difficult, as their station was unmanned. When I found a policemen he told me I had to catch the train again to the other terminal. We got lost, we ended up outside again, we needed to pass through security again and my panadol showed up as “drugs”. What else can happen? can I get any more stressed?

Finally a stand with three police officers to lodge a report. “Describe your Passport Mr Lawrence”. “It’s blue with my picture in it”. A careful comparison of my 2004 image with my current appearance resulted in a joyful reunion. Someone handed it in, possibly hours previously, but I had it back.

It cost $600 to rebook and another $50 in lost transfers when we arrived in Rome at 8 pm, about 30 hours after leaving Sydney. I hope this holiday gets better!

The photo shows the view from the back seat of the jet. It is very close to the toilet, though. Watch your passports.

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8 thoughts on “Watch Your Passport

  1. OMG! I feel for you. I remember having the last seat on the flight back from Launceston right near the toilets and after only 1 1/2 hour flight it smelled like a toilet by the end of the flight. You’ve arrived now in beautiful Rome it WILL get better, how can it not.

  2. Poor Gary! I can imagine the stress that you and Julie had to go through on day one of this long-awaited European dream holiday. I am sure you will settle down now and NOTHING ELSE will go wrong!
    I am sure writing about it in your blog helped get it out of your system. It’s also a good reminder to all of us who plan to travel. Enjoy Rome- I can’t wait to read more postings. Love to Julie!

  3. Dad,

    While it may be a fasion faux pas, maybe it is time you invested in a bum bag. You were wearing sandles with long pants last week anyway – how much dignity can you have left?

    I hope this hasn’t put too much of a damper on things, it’s probably best to get this kind of thing out of the way early.

    Now do try to keep out of any further trouble! (I think a child saying that to their parent is some kind of significant milestone)

    • I own a bum bag. It contains ultra wide lens, spare battery and memory cards and my underwater, emergency camera. No room for passport. It lives in a money belt normally, but in the airport it is a pain getting it in and out, hence the mistake. We have had a very good (great actually) time in Rome, Amalfi and Florence since then. On fashion, I am forever labelled as wearing shorts and trekking sandals where ever I can get away with it.

  4. Gary I told you I’d comment and here goes. Your saga reminds me of a caravan trip Stella and I took over 30 years ago. After putting 2 new tyres on the caravan before leaving on our first ever significant trip we had 2 blow outs in the first 300 kms.One I had to change on the side of the freeway with every semi in Adelaide passing me.
    The good news, we went another 6 weeks had a fantastic holiday without another thing going wrong. You may remember it we spent a week or two with you and Julie and Cheryl and Graham at Coffs Harbour.
    I hope your’s and Julies experience on this holiday is similiar.

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