Packing for any trip is stressful especially in my case because I always try to stuff a 100 pounds of stuff into a 50 pound bag.
But the stress that we experienced from the time we arrived at the Denver airport (DIA) was nothing compared to any stress related to making sure I had enough underwear.
Upon arrival to the British Airways(BA) check in desk we asked to be checked in to our final destination Windhoek Namibia. The lady at the desk took one look at us, her screen, and back at us again and said I will be “right back”. It was doubtful that she was checking to see if she could upgrade us to first class. We knew it couldn’t be good.
When she returned she told us we couldn’t fly to Namibia and that we needed an original birth certificate for Rafiki. What the what???
Just like that we were stranded in Denver. She informed us that we couldn’t get to Namibia because the S. African government required that we carry an original birth certificate for any minors traveling to S. Africa. Well that seemed dumb first off but then the real issues was we weren't’ even going to SA- were transferring from there and wouldn’t even be leaving the airport.
Ridiculous as this “no proof new law” seemed we figured with a 12 hours layover in London we could surely get a hold of Rafiki’s birth certificate he was born there after all. (Not to mention we had Rafiki’s British and American passports, copies of his birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth of a Citizen of the United States of America, and our marriage license- with us.)
The situation quickly escalated after we began to loudly protest. We were told that we couldn’t even go to London now. Of course we demanded to see a manager and were handed a man with a big time Short Man’s complex.
Patrick went ballistic and I joined in complaining that this was completely absurd that we had paid for our ticket, checked in online without problem and never been given any information of this new law. The Short Man then told us that is was our responsibility to know this and we would have to rebook our ticket only to London.
OK– at no extra cost to us right?… No we would have to see about that….
We insisted that there was no reason we couldn’t fly to London that we have all the right paper work for that. We even told them that I would stay in London and Patrick could then continue on with the The Little Shop of Physics group.
Unable to make a decision of his own the Short Man had to check and see if that was acceptable and disappeared behind the Oz’s curtain. Minutes later then told us Patrick couldn’t fly with the group that we (the Lindsells) were booked on the same reservation- which we weren’t. Little Shop of Physics had booked his ticket. Short Man couldn’t even get that straight— no magic behind the Oz’s curtain there.
Meantime I had also asked me to show me proof of this new law….
After some considerable intense and loud arguing, multiply checks with the invisible bosses and internet searches that took an hour to find an official statement that stated the law they finally allowed us get on the flight to London. It was obvious he never heard of Google because I immediately found information on the British government site that clearly indicated if you were in transit you did not need to have the original birth certificate of your child.– which we eventuallyhad to show everyone down the line in London.
Poor Rafiki, also confused by what was happening thought this entire debacle was his fault. He waited patiently by our side never complaining a minute worried he was not going to meet new friends in Africa, see his grandmother or get a chance to see animals in the wild.
It was clear that the monkeys working in Colorado for BA were jackasses with limited international knowledge and once we got to London- the home of BA we would find the right people and be sorted out. We asked for the Short Man’s card so we could officially complain and he refused to give it to us- telling us we didn’t need it– so what that does tell you. Poor scared little man.
Upon arrival in London we quickly earned our 10,000 steps hauling luggage from terminal 4 and then 5 and back again-speaking to about 10 different people— who for the most part confirmed that because we were transferring in SA we didn’t not need the original birth certificate. Still not completely sure but exhausted from the flight and the fight we decided we should be in the clear and headed into Central London to see the sights and have a big of lunch.
Of course— We forgot to check a few things— like the nasty notes that the Short Man put into our file. Upon arrival to the front desk for check in 2 hours before our departure we were informed again that we could not travel to Namibia because we did not have an original birth certificate.
What the what?
However, this time we had someone reasonable-who was actually willing to help us and not just act like there was nothing that they could do and were too damn lazy to lift a finger beyond assigning us a seat (which we already had).
I won’t completely bore you with the details which included more calls to managers who just shook their head at Short Man’s notes and said you are in transit no problem, a call to the South African embassy and finally the Big Boss from Customer Service appearing out of no where check on the situation; as it had started to go viral in the airport especially with the last call to the SA embassy which no one really wanted— we definitely didn’t want that to be on that radar.
The big boss had the lady at check out take out the notes andput a new note in that approved us for travel and we were finally on our way— with only a minor threat of deportation.
Still sweating it on the next leg of our journey, an eleven hour flight to S. Africa we managed a fairly smooth transfer though S.African immigration without even a request to see anything more than our passports.
Once through Rafiki loudly laughed “Hey Dada I didn’t even need a birth certificate?”
Simultaneously, we Shhhhed him– and ran like hell for the gate to Namibia.
South Africa to enforce new rules on traveling with kids