I was feeling happy go lucky after an amazing time in Jeju island. Little did I know what was in store for me in the coming few minutes. After finally reaching the front of the check in and baggage drop off counter, I presented them my passport. I was feeling excited to go to my next destination which is Beijing, China. All of a sudden, the front desk counter tells me to wait because I don’t have a Chinese VISA. Immediately, I explained to them that I was going to enter the country under the 72-hour VISA-free entry rule. After speaking with the Chinese embassy representative, the front desk lady shakes her head and says “I’m sorry sir but you cannot board this flight unless you have a tourist VISA to China”. I was denied boarding the plane.
Why was I denied boarding the plane?
Apparently, under the China 72-hour VISA free transit rule, I must directly enter the city that I plan on entering. Another method that works is to enter the country through a connecting flight in China that doesn’t require me to clear customs.
In summary, my options were the following:
- Fly directly into Beijing, China
- Fly to Beijing, China with a connecting flight from a Chinese city that doesn’t require me to go clear customs first
Unfortunately for me, the flight ticket I redeemed using my Aeroplan miles required me to connect through the city of Nantong and in that specific airport, I DO need to go through customs first before boarding the connecting flight. No wonder I got denied boarding the plane.
Because I have a very strict itinerary since I was wrapping up my Asia section of my trip, I couldn’t afford to linger in Jeju, South Korea much longer. I am meeting my sisters in Bolivia to start the South American part of my one year trip around the world and I still want to see the Great Wall of China and Komodo Dragon Island while I was in Asia. One of my biggest goals for my one year trip around the world is to see all the Seven Wonders of the World and the Seven Wonders of Nature.
I decided to eat the cost and purchase a $362.85 CAD flight from Jeju, Island to Beijing, China with a connecting flight to Seoul, South Korea.
Looking in hindsight, I wish I researched the airports in China better and perhaps I could have connected through a bigger airport that doesn’t require clearing customs or I could have contacted Aeroplan (the frequent flyer miles company I did my booking with) and requested to connect through Seoul instead of a Chinese city.
Oh well, you live and learn.
In the end, I made the flight to Beijing connecting through Seoul. I managed to enter Beijing after much delay. The process to let you in China with a 72-hour transit VISA is quite time consuming and they do a lot of screening and paperwork with you before they let you through. Despite the annoyances, I managed to get in Beijing and see this amazing city.
I’m still hurting having to pay that $362.85 CAD for my flight; unfortunately, my travel insurance doesn’t cover this expense.
The lesson learned from being denied boarding a plane is to always do a thorough research when attempting to enter a country through loop holes like a 72-hour VISA free transit. Later on this year, I will try and enter Russia through another 72-hour VISA free rule and I’m now researching it thoroughly to not make the same costly mistake again.