Trip Reports

That Time I Was Denied Boarding Because the Ferry Employees Knew More About Indian Visas Than the Government

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My 3 weeks traveling solo in Asia last year was a lot of fun, but quite stressful at times. And the Macau ferry employees insisting I couldn’t travel to India was at the top of the list of things I didn’t anticipate going wrong.

It was the morning of the Chinese New Year and I checked out of my hotel and headed to the ferry terminal to catch the airport ferry for my flight to Delhi. I wanted to spend time in The Wing lounge, so I was leaving more than 6 hours before my flight.

Turns out that wasn’t enough time. I arrived at the Taipa ferry terminal to discover the hotel conceirge had booked tickets departing from the other terminal. No worries, there was space on another TurboJet boat leaving shortly, I’d just eat the cost of the other ticket or try to get a refund later.

Except they wouldn’t let me buy a ticket. The TurboJet agent claimed that I had to leave 60 days between visits to India and since I had been there less than two weeks ago, they couldn’t let me board.

In vain did I protest that the 60 day rule had been lifted, in fact it had been verified by the company who processed my visa. The agent called Cathay Pacific who confirmed the 60 day rule. The problem, unbeknownst to me, at no point did the agent mention to Cathay Pacific that I was an American citizen, not Chinese.

They couldn’t do anything from Macau and wouldn’t let me proceed as a transit passenger to handle it at the airport, so their solution was to have me take the ferry to mainland Hong Kong and then take the ferry from there to the airport at which point I would have access to the Cathay Pacific ticket counters.

The only problem? At this point that long layover I had planned for wasn’t long enough to make all of this happen and I would arrive too close to my flight’s departure time. And that apparently was the only option they would give me.

In tears from stress and frustration I headed back to the Hyatt to try to sort it out and get rebooked on a new flight for the next day. Fortunately American Airlines was very sympathetic and in no time they had me set up with a new flight. I was less successful with the hotel. It was the Chinese New Year and the Hyatt was sold out. Rates at other hotels were sky high, but fortunately I manage to book an award night at nearby Sheraton Grand Macau for 10,000 points vs $600.

I pinged Steve at Allied Passport for help with additional documentation about the 60 day rule and showed up for an early ferry the next day (just in case) ready to argue my case with lots of print outs for support.

Except this time I didn’t need to make one. The Cotai Jet employees apparently knew the rules were different for most tourists and never mentioned it. Fortunately Cotai is now the only ferry company operating from that terminal so it shouldn’t be a problem now.

So if traveling to India via Macau (or anywhere else) know that only citizens of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh are restricted by the 60 day rule. And you might want to print out that information for easy access just in case.

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