The Last 15 Minutes.

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On the way to Zurich!

Before the Trip

Our Europe trip has finally been laid out in proper after hundred of changes being made. Many problems arose because of the Schengen visa(s) applications, but we didn’t give up and kept trying. It was one of the most difficult trips I have ever made as one problem kept arising after another.

We were told to collect the passports on the 7th August 2018. My mom was confident with the passport collection and visa approval, and we booked our departure flight on the 7th August. I was looking forward to the trip as we had planned to cover Switzerland and France.

Just two years back, my family went on a trip to Switzerland with the kids, and we had the best times of our lives! We were on a motorhome, hitting one campsite after another and visiting the most beautiful places like Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. I was hoping for another trip like this! I remembered cruising through from one country to another, studying how the people lived. It was the best times of our lives!

The 7th of August

Finally, the 7th of August came. It was a great thing that the visa(s) got approved. I wouldn’t need to call the travel company for flight cancellations or changes which I have been doing so the past few days. Our flight was at about 1115pm at night. We were bound to fly on British Airways from Singapore to London and landing in Zurich the very next day.

We arrived at the airport at about 0930pm and was welcomed by a bustling Changi Airport. It was filled with people, and it was noisy. People were standing around waiting, saying goodbyes and checking in. We went straight to the check-in counter to grab our boarding passes and scoot our way to the immigration counters as per usual!

I handed the desk clerk at the check-in counter our passports, excited that we have finally overcome all problems. Finally, we are going to Europe!

The Terrible Event which Occurred

Suddenly, the desk clerk pointed out the visa and said: “Type C Schengen Visa cannot transit in London. It needs to be a Type D Schengen Visa.”

“What?!” I exclaimed. I was in despair, not knowing what to do. I was hoping for a smooth journey to Europe, and this occurred. I flashed out my phone, punched the numbers and called my mom. 2 of us could fly with British Airways as I was holding a Singapore Passport and another friend of mine met the criteria to land in London airport with a USA visa while two others were not able to fly.

I knew there were only two ways left. Either we cancel both of their flights and forget about them going to Europe and another would be to find a direct flight to Zurich Airport. Finding a non-direct flight is another way but they had no idea how to check-in, speak English or navigate their way through the transit airports.

“Are there no other options or ways available??” I asked the guy at the counter, hoping to get a positive reply.

“Sorry but no. They need a Type D Schengen Visa to fly to London.” He replied patiently.

I knew well in my head that getting a UK Visa is a long process which takes about 15 days for the entire process to be completed.

I replied: “Do you know of any other flights that they can take tonight? That goes straight to Zurich Airport?”

He picked up his phone and started punching the details, looking for the next flight which departs from Singapore Changi Airport. I appreciated his help very much. Sadly, I was in a mess that I did not manage to catch his name. He was helping us to look for another flight knowing I was desperate at the point in time. He could have just shoved us aside and not care about our plight, but he did not turn his back on us.

“Two flights fly directly to Zurich from Singapore. Swiss Air and Singapore Airlines. You can pick these two as they fly later early in the morning.

“Awesome! Thank you so much for your help.” I thanked him wholeheartedly and started making my way to the counter side for the booking of the flights.

Booking the Next Available Flight

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Mom flying on different flights cause of the problems

I was on Skyscanner as my mom wanted a cheaper flight. Direct flights to Zurich were so expensive costing about SGD3000++ per pax. My mom was looking up Airfrance, saying that there are flights available. We checked online, and as it refreshed, the flight schedules became unavailable. I went straight to the Airfrance Counter to check if there were any more seats available.

“Sorry, but there aren’t any more seats available on this flight. We are closed and full.” Replied the Receptionist at Air France counter.

I was saddened and feeling panicky. I wanted to get them on a direct flight as soon as possible so that I could catch my plane and not waste my SGD1000 trip away. It was getting late, and I had limited time to check in and get the standard procedures done.

The Non-Direct or the Direct

The 2 of them did not want to take a non-direct flight to Zurich as well. They were afraid of the transit as they could not speak English. They were worried when we told them the stopovers in Paris, so on and so forth. Their face expression was not very comfortable or happy with the idea of transiting in a foreign country.

Looking at their expressions, I decided to not think about the price. I was thinking of getting them on the next available flight. They did not want to fly a non-direct flight and time was running out and at that time. I was getting irritated and cranky when my mom kept suggesting different flights to take, but the flights were no longer available on the other airlines.

We had no other choices left. Swiss Air was way too expensive costing about SGD 9000++ for a flight to Zurich. Singapore Airlines was slightly better, charging about SGD 3000++ for a direct flight to Zurich. We decided to go for the latter. I started typing furiously on my Macbook, trying to book the Singapore Airlines flight as soon as possible. The internet was slow as I was using my phone’s internet hotspot.

The entire website stopped and crashed on me during the payment, and I was in despair. It was 10 pm, and my flight was departing in an hour’s time. I decided to book the flight on the way to Terminal 3 as that was where the Singapore Airlines check-in counter was.

I brought both of them to the Skytrain going to Terminal 3, desperately hoping that the payment would go through and they can catch the next flight.

The last 15 Minutes

“Ring Ring.” My handphone ringtone came up. It was my friend waiting at the check-in counter. I was late, and he was rushing me to the check-in counter as soon as possible. The check-in counters were going to close in 15 minutes time. My time was running out, and I needed to get the bookings done and bring them to Terminal 3 for check-in.

“Ting!” The notification came on my phone, and the itinerary came up on my browser. I was so thrilled when the payment went through. Once we arrived at Terminal 3, I gave them the instructions on where they could go to for the check-in and went straight to take the Skytrain back to Terminal 1.

It was the first time they were checking in on their own. Thus, having no idea of what to do and where to go. My instructions seemed useless to them as they couldn’t understand what to do. They walked around aimlessly trying to find the counter four that I was referring. I had no choice but to abandon them there as my flight’s check-in counter was closing soon.

Running around Singapore Changi Airport

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Running in Singapore Changi Airport

The Skytrain doors opened, and I rushed straight to the check-in counter as soon as possible. I was tired and exhausted from all the rushing and running around. I was the one running up and down continuously looking like a mad dog while the rest of the people were sitting on the benches feeling relaxed.

Finally, I checked into my flight without an issue. It was a relief that I had booked a trip for them and I could check-in. It would be such a waste if I missed my flight. It’s like donating SGD 1000 for nothing.

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Finally in the British Airways plane, feeling relaxed….:)

This was the worst kind of travel that has ever happened to me. Well, it made me learn more about the visa types and requirements. In addition to that, I was grateful and appreciative of my Singapore passport. There were little hassle for visa(s) applications, and we could travel to most places without a problem.

Oh, and another was to trust my eye twitching. The night before, my left eye bottom lid was twitching furiously for two hours. It was the first time this was happening to me. I had no idea whether it was a good or bad thing but I guess I know today what the twitching meant.

Hope this was a good read for you! Do leave your comments below on your thoughts!

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Bunny Hop Travels with Charmaine Leow
Bunny Hop Travels with Charmaine Leow

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By |2018-10-29T11:29:47+00:00October 29th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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