The Onward Travel Dilemma: South African Style

By , August 25, 2010 9:31 am

fake voucher Lets say, hypothetically, that you booked a cheap, one way, flight from Buenos Aires to Cape Town, South Africa.  Sweet, done, winner.  Not so fast asshole: you didn’t book any onward travel.  Why not? Because you didn’t know you needed to.  This was our onward travel dilemma on arriving to South Africa. 

When we checked in, in Buenos Aires, the clerk asked if we had a return or onward ticket booked.  I said no, then he asked if I had $50,000!  I rolled my eyes and said “yeah, I’ve got $50,000”.  (note: I do not have $50k, please don’t kidnap me).  Then he said “on you?”, to which I replied “Like, in a sack?  Are you asking if I have a sack full of cash?”

Obviously this wasn’t going to work, so we got out of line, and directly back in line, hoping to check in with someone else.  This time when I got up to the counter the dollar amount had dropped to $5,000, and I just needed to to show an atm balance receipt.  No problem, showed them the balance, got our boarding passes and we’re on our way to Africa.

On arrival we get in line for customs, and myself and the Drunkette go to different windows.  My passport gets stamped and I’m in.  Easy peasy.  Then, while I’m waiting for the Drunkette a customs official calls me over and asks if I’m traveling with here.  I know that I should just say “no”, since that question can’t lead to anything good, but what are you gonna do?  I have to say yes, we’re engaged.  He takes my passport back, and I find out we can’t get into the country because we didn’t have any onward travel booked. 

About 10 people from our flight were pulled to the side for the same reason.  One of them was a fellow American, and, as he very loudly informed the customs agent, he was an immigration lawyer.  Hot tip for young, American, lawyer players:  Please shut the fuck up, you’re not helping.  What ended up happening is that we were taken into the terminal to book onward travel. 

There is a reason why no one buys tickets from airlines at the terminal: it’s really expensive.  Some people just did it, some people bought refundable tickets, and we printed out an itinerary to make it look like we bought tickets.  All three worked, but we weren’t out a dime.  Here is a good guide to making a believable voucher, but in my opinion the customs agents aren’t exactly Sherlock Holmes, and there are about a billion different companies selling airline tickets online, and they all look different.

Moral of the story: check the immigration status before you fly and come prepared with a fake ticket.

(Disclaimer: don’t do illegal shit like lie to immigration, you could get in trouble and stuff, and if you do don’t blame me.  Thanks.)      

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