Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Journey To Cuba - Damn My Passport Has Expired - Part III

I was so happy on Tuesday.  I kept reminding myself to find my passport and put it on the dresser so that I would not forget it.   I looked through my wife's stash where I found my passport along with the others.  I left it out as planned and put it into my backpack for my trip on Sunday.

As my buddy and I backed out of my driveway I asked that we both double check that we had our passports. 
When I looked more closely at mine my heart sunk.  Expiration Date  08 April 09.

We drove to the airport to see if there was a means of getting a temporary passport for immediate travel.  No luck.  Not only was it "Sunday" it was "Easter Sunday".   The lady at the passport services office (a private company) stated that they have a 2 day express service for $450.   She said that I could go to one of the passport offices for a face to face interview but it still would require overnight processing.

My buddy agreed to go forward to the Bahamas and then to Cuba.  I figured that Cuba had slipped away. 

I was mad and depressed at this point.  It was all my fault for not more closely inspecting my passport beforehand.  Now this oversight is going to cost me dearly.

If I went to Miami, Philly or Washington DC on Monday I would not get my passport till Tuesday.  I would miss my connecting flight for that day and would not get into Cuba until Wednesday.  A one day trip.  I was not worth it.

Then I figured that it would be best to have my passport in hand just in case my buddy got in trouble in Cuba.  My options for obtaining a passport were:
  • Miami - No appointments available until Tuesday
  • Philly -  Fly up on Monday morning for a 11am appointment, wait until Tuesday, fly back
  • New Orleans - They have appointments on Monday morning but I'd have to drive 7 hours down
I chose to drive to New Orleans.  Driving gave me more control of my own schedule than did flying.    I left my house on Monday at 2am.   I remembered that they are on central time and thus I had more time to take a nap along the way.

I thought that I would have to spend the night in New Orleans as I waited for my passport to be processed.  As fate would have it - THEY DID "SAME DAY SERVICE"!!!     They told me that I could come back at 2:30pm to obtain my passport.   This was an important piece of the puzzle.   With no passport the flight schedules to the Bahamas would be irrelevant.

As I waited for my passport I did what I always do while in the Big Easy:  Purchase a copy of the "Louisiana Weekly" - the most biased newspaper in the nation!!

No time to read the paper though.  I went to lunch and pulled out my laptop, trying to find a flight to the Bahamas by 12 noon on Tuesday.   My option was to find a flight from some city in Florida where I would drive from N.O.  or drive back to Atlanta and take the earliest flight.  The problem with Florida is that I would have to go and retrieve my car.  More money!

Airtran had a flight that departed Atlanta at 12noon.  This would cause me to miss the 2:30pm flight to Cuba on Tuesday.   I also learned that I had enough frequent flier miles on Airtran to leave from Atlanta to some city in Florida.  I would need to find a flight from FL to the Bahamas that left early enough for me to make the Cuba flight.

Turns out that Delta has an 8:45am flight to Nassau and there were seats available.  The lady even told me that I had enough Skymiles to pay for the ticket.  This was going too good at this point.  I could fly to Cuba on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

After she booked the flight she asked me for a credit card.  WTF?    "Why do you need a credit card?  I thought I had the miles to pay for it?"

  • $150 Emergency Booking Fee
  • $20 since you talked to an agent instead of booking on line
 I now needed to make sure that I got back to Atlanta and did not miss my early morning flight.
I hauled it back to Atlanta, getting in at 11pm.   I left extra early to make sure that I was at the gate when the flight to the Bahamas pushed back.

I arrived in Nassau, Bahamas and had a two hour wait for my flight to Cuba. 

I noticed a few things while in the Bahamas:
  • The airport pay phone - They wanted $28 for a 3 minute call to Cuba with $5 per minute afterward.  No thank you.  I am not giving you my credit card number lady
  • Wendy's:  While I was standing in line I observed the accent spoken by many of the young Black male workers around the airport.  It sounds like they have some Dutch influence to their English.
  • Internet Cafe - The Bahamas has fast Internet connectivity to the USA, just as does Jamaica
I checked into my flight to Cuba.
  • $60 change fee
  • $42 departure tax
All of the tickets done in handwritten form.  No computer printed boarding passes.

I boarded my Russian made turbo prop plane and headed toward Cuba.

I was only one day late.
The original plan was to spend the night in Nassau and catch the Monday afternoon plane.  I caught the Tuesday afternoon plane.

2 comments:

Flight Tickets said...

excellent story on My Journey To Cuba Passport Has Expired....very interesting

Flight Tickets

Yatra Coupons said...

nice article...i am very glad to read this post. great haa...


Yatra Coupon Codes