Sunday, December 17, 2006

On the way to the airport....

Me: (as I drive the car out of our driveway) Got your passports? Tickets?
Him: Yes. (to wife, referring to their son) Have you got Dylan's passport?
Her: (checking) Yes. All here.
Me: (to him, because he is an American and they are on their way to Australia): Got your visa?
Him: (Long silence.) Um. Do I need one?
Me: Did you check?
Him: Er....no.

Guess what? Americans need visas for Australia.

Oops.

Fortunately we discovered that visas can be got online, even on Sunday evenings when you are already at the airport. But believe me, that 45 minute drive to the airport - wondering all the while if father and son would be able to go at all - was fuelled not by petrol, but by high octane stress levels.

P.S. This whole passport/visa/immigration/travel problem thingy is known as the Noramly Family Syndrome, or NFS for short. It is highly contagious between family members and can be dangerous. Anyone marrying into the family should take suitable precautions.

Related symptoms include:
  • luggage lag In this case both parties arrived in Malaysia without their bags even though they were travelling on different flights from different destinations. It was a fact, well-known to UN employees when Noramly was working for the IAEA, that if you accompanied him, you would arrive at your destination without your bags.
  • the triggering of airline strikes or airport chaos The BA strike of some years ago is still talked about as the Holiday to Hell by Noramly family members all arriving from different countries on British Airways. Never again. The recent terrorist-liquid chaos in UK caught up two members of the Noramly clan travelling in opposite directions who had arranged to meet at Heathrow, and instead spent the 4 hour layover queuing up at different Heathrow terminals and missed each other altogether.
  • the possibility of regime overthrow The past downfall of governments in Albania, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and the overturning of elections in Algeria, have all been connected to the presence of Noramly and wife (i.e. me) at the crucial time. The only governments they don't seem to have been able to topple despite repeated attempts (i.e.visits) are those of the Bush/Blair/Howard administrations.
If any member of the Noramly clan travels your way, watch out.

My younger daughter is at the moment travelling between Scotland UK and Perth Australia, via USA. So far she has only had her credit cards pick-pocketed in London.

4 comments:

Kendall said...

Yipes! A couple I know at work have been responsible for hurricanes and other natural disasters. I'll try to avoid your daughter as she travels through the USA.... ;-)

BTW, I saw this Unshelved comic strip and thought of you. (Unshelved is a funny comic strip about librarians; their Sunday strips are about books, frequently F/SF and/or YA books.)

hrugaar said...

Everyone seems to need visas to travel to Australia - even an Englishman like me (which, considering they're supposedly a Commonwealth country, seems a tad unenlightened). I had to get mine at Heathrow, but the staff there were very obliging and it was sorted in a matter of minutes.

You planning a return visit to the UK sometime soon? ;o)

Glenda Larke said...

Oh dear, Kendall, I wish you hadn't mentioned hurricanes. It might give someone ideas about what to throw at us next time we travel...

We all love Lat here. He is so good on Malaysians and the Malaysian lifestyle. Doesn't do much on politics though.

Hrugaar - I remember the first time I came to UK, back in 1981. As we came to immigration at Heathrow, there was a big notice: UK and EEC (or whatever it was called at the time) this way; and then another notice saying "Others".

I just stared. The UK and EEC people just had to flash passports and they were through.

The "others" had to answer questions etc etc, and the lines were slow. That was the moment the whole idea of "Commonwealth" died for me.

hrugaar said...

Up until a few years ago, every time I travelled to and from the UK I used to get stopped and questioned by Security and Customs - and we count as a UK domestic flight! And no, I don't have a Police record, that's just life. So I guess the questioning part is par for the course for me la. And the division between domestic and non-domestic passports is an administrative practicality, I suppose.

Maybe it just bugs me when you have to apply in advance for visas and still go through the immigration interrogation on arrival, it seems like a duplication of effort. But I suppose governments are good at that.

And the EEC - the perpetual thorn in everybody's flesh, argh.