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 a good time for a 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 Airlines. I went to the Cathay Pacific counter but it opens at 2 pm 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 fill 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 the 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 at 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 about 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.