Dodd was nice enough to give me a ride to JFK on Wednesday morning so I could avoid having to lug Suitcase and Carryon around with me on the train and subway. Suitcase weighed exactly 50 lbs, and check-in was going smoothly, but just as the ANA agent we handing me my boarding passes she asked if I already had a return ticket. I responded that, no, I didn’t have one yet, but could easily afford to buy one there and had sufficient funds on my person to prove it. After tapping on the computer for a few moments, she called down to baggage to stop my bags, revoked my tickets, and said that I couldn’t board the flight, all in a pretty huffy tone.
Her computer told her that one needs to have already purchased a ticket out of Singapore before entering the country. This is contrary to what I read that said all you need to do was show that you had means on leaving the country, and you’re OK. Not in her book. I talked with the manager for a while, who talked with his manager for a while, and several of the other check-in attendants gathered around as if this was the big catch of the day (seriously, no one buys one way tickets?). Eventually the ANA manager said that since I was taking a United flight into Singapore, he would give me my pass and leave it up to United to take care of in Tokyo. I had a pretty good feeling that other agents wouldn’t be so anal about the interpretation of the immigration rules, so I said “fine”, took my boarding pass, made sure my bags got sent back along and went on my way.
About 10 minutes before the flight was set to board the manager comes up to me in the terminal and tells me that the Big Boss said that they couldn’t give me the boarding pass to Tokyo because then they would have to stop my bags in Tokyo, I’d have to clear customs to get them, then re-check to put them on the flight to Singapore, and there’s no way I’d have time given my hour and a half layover to do all that. He demanded that I give him the boarding pass back and leave unless I bought a ticket. Given that I only had 10 minutes to sort this out and get on the plane, I acquiesced and whipped out my iPhone and bought a $60 ticket to Bangkok. Appeased, they gave me both my boarding passes and let me on the damn plane.
I’m currently on the Tokyo to Singapore flight, which I boarded without issue. Now I just need to convince the Singapore customs agents that I’m not planning on staying in their country forever and I’ll be in.
I’m betting my bags are still in JFK.