Last summer, my family and I decided on going to Jordan (I was in India, then.) We had several discussions to determine how we could make the most of our short trip to Jordan.
We were pleased to learn that India had been added to the list of countries whose citizens could get a visa to Jordan on arrival. “Yay! That could save a lot of time and hassle “, I remarked. Totally unaware of what lay ahead! I was definitely not counting on it becoming one of those summer break horror stories that everyone else finds amusing! Especially so, as these stories are only meant to happen to others and not you!
Anyway, dad and I went about finding us great accommodation and cheap flights to Jordan via the Internet. We stumbled upon this little known airlines, FlyDubai (a sister concern of Emirates Airlines) that operates cheap flights from small cities in India to Dubai and other places in the UAE (United Arab Emirates). And it is really cheap! At least a quarter of what it takes to travel on Emirates Airlines! I was already rejoicing having more money to shop with. But as always, you get what you pay for! And boy did we learn it the hard way or what!
Since our destination was Amman, Jordan, the city of Lucknow, India was our start off point. The Lucknow Airport transforms into an International Airport at night! And it only handles a couple of airline carriers and limited air traffic.
Our flight was at 1.45 am, so we reached the airport by 9.30 pm. Quite early, but in India it is always better to reach the airport earlier. The airport was closed with no seating arrangements outside for visitors. We had to literally sit on the road, before the airport opened its doors at 11pm.
The airport personnel here are inexperienced with limited knowledge. Not only that they still use obsolete methods to issue boarding passes. Add to that the fact that they have limited access to the Internet.The staff at the booking kiosk was inexperienced and didn’t apparently know the meaning of the term “visa on arrival”. After a lot of coaxing and grumbling about their inefficiency, we finally had our boarding passes in hand. But what came next could easily beat everyone’s idea of summer break horror stories.
As we waited to get stamped, I received several requests from fellow passengers (mostly poor laborers moving to the Emirates, in search of better pay and work opportunities) to fill out their immigration forms. Finally, it was my turn to get stamped.
The immigration officer was skeptical about the whole visa on arrival process. He didn’t even know where Amman was and kept thinking it was Oman, which is another nation altogether! And then came the final blow- he refused to acknowledge that Indian citizens could go to Jordan on an on arrival visa!
I promptly, showed him the update on travel-to-Jordan’s (official) web site. We also pointed out other official websites such as the IATA (International Air Transport Association) that had this information. Apparently, Lucknow Airport immigration officers had not received this information from a government source! The document that they did have was an old one, released in early 2009. And it did not include the updated information.
We were not ready to give up yet. And we did have our boarding passes in hand! (We learned later, that if the airlines carrier issues a boarding pass then it becomes their liability) This is what worked for us.
Luckily enough, the immigration officer was willing to humor us. He made several calls to the Delhi International Airport and even spoke with the Station Manager, FlyDubai, Lucknow. And then finally decided to let us go to Jordan on an air-travel indemnity disclaimer. What this means is that we were ready to travel to Jordan knowing we could be denied entry into the country and sent back to India. We would also be willing to pay any charges levied as a consequence.
We signed the waiver and went ahead! Despite all the horrors and the hassles, our trip to Jordan turned out to be one of our best!