Plane to Spain: A Border Suspense Story

My travel to Malaga in Spain finally happened. I was very happy to reunite with my husband. Some jitters are normal but my husband´s instructions were clear with good time for change of planes in Manila, Hong Kong and Frankfurt. But the trip almost ended in a catastrophe for me, and it started in Hong Kong.

Davao – Manila
It started with an almost 2 hours flight from Davao to Manila. I have done this trip sometimes now but was still very early at the airport to be sure not to miss the plane. It was only one guy at the boarding gate when I arrived. I tried to sleep a little but the guy approached me, ¨Hi Maám, sorry to disturb but it is my first time to ride a plane and I am a bit nervous, is it ok if I asked questions? There is always a first time in everybody’s life and I was just glad to answer his questions.

Manila – Hongkong
My next flight was Manila to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific airline. I went to the Cathay Pacific counter but it opens at 2pm so I had to wait. Since my husband already did a web check in for me, I just have to go to the baggage drop counter. I checked in my luggage to Malaga airport in Spain. While doing the process, I asked for all my boarding passes and she obliged with a ¨yes and a but¨, because she wanted me to pay my travel tax first. I went pushing my trolley again LOL.

I proceeded to the immigration area and filled in the departure card and went to one of the immigration officers for document checking. She asked me some questions and just let me proceed without a fuss. Next was border control check and off I went to final security check. So far, so good.

Hong Kong – Frankfurt
Upon arrival in Hong Kong Terminal 1, I just walked and followed the transfer signs, found my gate number on the screen and rode the internal subway to my designated gate for Lufthansa airline and underwent a routine security check on the way. I had some time to spare so I slept a little. I was very happy because all seemed to be very smooth. I had all the necessary documents, but suddenly just before departure I was denied to board the plane because I did not have a return ticket. Luckily, my husband had seen this scenario coming and asked me to get an email from The Consulate General of Spain confirming that I had a multiple entry visa with the code ¨Estados Schengen C vis Familiar EU/EEA/Suiza¨ for Family Reunion, and that the airline couldn’t demand a return ticket. But the airline personnel kept on insisting that I only have a 90 day tourist visa and that I should present a return ticket. I explained to them that I will be applying for a family residence card soon as I arrive in Spain or particularly within 3 months (90 days) because I am married to an EU citizen (Norwegian) living in Spain. The EU Directive for this can be found here.

But instead I was threatened and humiliated and they didn´t listen to me. But I told them, ¨this is not right, you cannot be above the law. Remember, I am just transiting your area and this is not my country of destination. Nobody can be that whimsy to stop me from reuniting with my husband who needs me in Spain.¨ And I got their attention. I explained it again calmly and confidently and took out more relevant documents and after so many minutes wasted debating, they finally allowed me to board the plane as one of the last passengers on queue with a warning, ¨Frankfurt is stricter than us so it´s possible you´ll be offloaded. We have similar cases happening so often.¨ But I cannot listen to hearsays, as I have a legal basis to stand on.

The longest plane trip of my life became after that, a sleepless one.

Frankfurt – Malaga
I still managed to smile as I arrived in Frankfurt Airport in Germany. It took me a while to look for the Passport Control area and Security Check. I just took my time because I got plenty to explore around. I went through a rigid security check and proceeded to the immigration officer. The same situation in HK happened and true, the officer has a much stricter demeanor. Of course, I understand the job but I can no longer think of which documents I should produce as I have given all the necessary and lots of supporting ones. I understand too that they might be fined for mistakes, but, is the law really hard to understand, or is it because I am a Filipina?

After an exhausting explanation, the officer fell silent for many minutes just looking at the wall. And I felt the need to do that too, but I looked inside my document bag and there was one left, the contract of our house in Spain. Without much enthusiasm, I grabbed it up and just gave it to him with a whisper, Lord, it might help… And after that little appeal to the Almighty, I heard the stamp clicked.

I waited at the boarding gate with a renewed sense of self and awe of my experience. I contacted my husband that things were settled and that a safe trip to Malaga in Spain is all I was hoping for.

When I arrived in Spain, I had to wait long for my luggage. I was worried for my husband who was waiting outside for a long time so I tried to send him a message through the internet but it didn´t go through. Eventually, I got my things, followed the exit signs and happily found my husband waiting for me outside 🙂

The problem during the journey is now an experience that showed me the importance to stand on my rights and never be afraid of authorities trying to put me down. I met my husband a bit stronger and better prepared to handle my final destination.

8 thoughts on “Plane to Spain: A Border Suspense Story

  1. Hi Grace,
    It was nice of you to share the experience travelling from Philippines to Spain to reunite with your love husband..
    Actually, I have gone through same scenario when I was travelling to Russia and the transit was at Kazakhstan, almity airport..
    But I manage it with the contact of finance ministry Secretary in Russia and the treatment I got after that was a VIP one.. Haha Haha,
    Anyway, I just want to say that some authorities in airport in most European countries are strict when it comes dealing with Asians because they just tend to do so and showing it hard to enter their countries even though we have all the necessary documents..
    Or maybe they just want some money(bribe) from the Asians.. even some don’t know the law exactly and just do what they(airport authorities) think is right for them..
    But it is a lesson and experience so that you know what to do next time on your travelling..
    Hope you will have good life as you wish in Spain..

    • Thanks for your comment, boss. The old world needs new blood and they are making it difficult for us hahaha. Kind of stupid, isn´t it? 🙂 I am looking forward to your instructions, and I will do my best not to disappoint you. All the best!

  2. Now that you are there, i wish you all the best, Grace! God bless you and keep those news about your new life and new world together with those new lessons from your fresh perspective coming! 😊

    • Hey Ma´am Liz, cool of you to comment! Thank you. Yes, that´s the reason for my blog, to inform and entertain a bit, but mostly to inform and share lessons I am having along the way. All the best!

  3. Hi! Grace finally you already reach your dream destination that is just 1st step in the ladder since you are still too young and as i said you have still a long way to go to make your life a good one. Just include always in daily activities for Gods blessing and protection and guide your way. Do everything you can to get what aim for. I taught you are traveling with your husband nauna pala siya anyway Good luck Grace I am happy for you.

    • I was alone ate Luz and it was not easy but God was and is my strength 🙂 Thank you for your nice comment, strong woman 🙂

  4. Have a good life there, Grace with your hubby, God bless you abundantly , but seems almost all has to undergo this situation I guess, specially for the first time to travel outside . My supposed to be first time to travel outside was in Vietnam last June 1, 2002, the day after I was denied by the US Embassy for a tourist visa where a US consul had stamped my passport with just ” application received ” dated May 31, 2002 and told me ” I am sorry, Ma’am”. The next day, I went to Manila Airport for my departure going to Vietnam, my round trip PAL ticket was won by my sister during Christmas 2001 which she gave to me since she already had gone there in Vietnam several times , as she was an employee of a travel agency (now she has her own business as such), it is one of their incentives to travel outside. Everything has been smooth , my baggage was checked in but when i arrived at the immigration area, i gave to the lady officer my passport and then she confronted me where will i stay there in Vietnam , since i cannot produce any documents to stay like a hotel voucher , i was offloaded for that reason, a lesson learned for those first timers to travel outside as a tourist, they should have a hotel voucher with them . I went back to Davao, secured a hotel voucher then went back to Manila on June 13 , 2002 bound for Vietnam, and this time, strange but I wonder why the immigration officer didn’t asked anything and let me proceed off to the plane. Well, I just said to myself that everything happens for a reason. I feel awful to share this experience to anyone until just now.

    • Sorry for that experience, ate She. Our issues with Vietnam before was when they had to require return tickets to Norway from my husband right when we were about to check in for our flights back to the Philippines. We were just there for a week for a vacation and we had our base in the Philippines with my husband´s passport stamped with Balikbayan Visa as a privilege for being married to me. Still, they require us to buy return tickets, on the spot. 🙁

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