Reaching passport control without your passport
Well that’s a first! Landing back at your UK airport, walking down the steps onto the runway … and then realising you’ve put your passport into the hold and you can’t get through passport control.
How is that even possible?
Well that happened to me just last week as I returned from the Berlin Marathon, but how can this happen?! Well EasyJet have a policy these days of picking out a handful of customers at the departure gate and asking them to have their hand luggage put into the hold at the last minute free of charge. This is to free up space in the cabin and never bothers me as it’s one less thing to have to then lug on-board. But only as long as you take out what you need for the plane of course! And this time for some reason I failed to take out my passport! I blame this forgetfullness on the Steins from the night before!
The Easyjet attendent mentioned something about taking out cameras and iPads. This possibly being for travel insurance reasons and/or not wanting more delicate consumables to be damaged. Maybe she mentioned passports but I’m pretty sure she didn’t! Anyway happy as Larry I boarded the flight with just my camera bag and water bottle on me and enjoyed the 1h40m flight home.
The moment of realisation
As soon as my feet touched the tarmac I realised! Oh shit! My passport! Meh! What’s the worse that can happen? Simply show your picture driving license to get through passport control instead?, or get “rubber gloved”? Gulp! I immediately spoke to an member of staff manning a zebra crossing. She smiled wryly and replied “Speak to the passport queue guy inside”. Either she knew what was about to happen to me or she sees this kind of thing every day and knew there wasn’t any cause for concern? I’d find out shortly either way.
Approaching passport control!
So I nonchalantly greeted the hi-viz guy at the start of the passport queue informing him of my situation as if it wasn’t any real issue … so just let me back in. He directed me to a row of seats facing the bank of passport control booths and there I waited, but not before quickly pointing out the back of my girlfriend’s head as she’d already headed off to the automatic passport booths. “Hopefully” she’d remember what my standard, ubiquitous, little, black wheelie bag looked like; my passport sitting neatly in my travel wallet in its front pocket.
It seems I’m unlikely to have been the first
So there I sat, just me, feeling a bit like a rumbled refugee, or at least a naughty little boy as the rest of the plane shuffled past. Five minutes later I was still sat there. My iPhone battery had died on the flight (not that you’re allowed to use it in passport control anyway). Even if it had been working I wasn’t able to take a sorrowful looking selfie for security reasons. However I “did” have my battery charger on me so ever so slowly my phone sparked back into life with the white Apple logo stuck on the screen for longer than usual before it allowed me to log in. This was in case my girlfriend was at the baggage carousel frantically calling me to ask what my bag looked like again.
After what seemed like an age the bearded hi-viz guy returned, passport in hand. He asked me my full name while holding it up to my face and that was that. The similarly bearded passport booth guy I’d been sat opposite for the last 15 minutes beckoned me forwards. He knew what I’d done, and that was it! A 10 second check and off I went.
And if I’d been travelling solo?
But this does beg the question what would happen if I’d been travelling alone and there’d been no-one to spot my “hold” – I mean “hand” luggage!! I guess my bag would have been the last one forlornly circling the carousel but that could have lead to a 30 minute sweaty wait rather than just my self-induced 10 minute one!
So note to self. Keep your passport on you at all times or keep a smaller bag on you for plane stuff which contains your passport. I sent a tweet to EasyJet saying they should make sure the customers take their passports out first before any hand luggage goes in to the hold. I haven’t received an answer back yet.
Oh well. Lesson learnt. No rubber gloves. No harm done! 🙂
Has anybody else done something similar on their travels? Anybody left their passport in the magazine compartment of the seat in front?
If you’ve enjoyed reading this check out my other travelling dilemma when I somehow managed to get pick-pocketed in Bangkok!