Visa Drama: When Our Flight Plans Went South!

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So, here’s the lowdown on a Kiwi family’s travel woes. They coughed up some serious cash for flights, only to get hit with a major visa surprise that left them grounded.

As spilled by Stuff on Tuesday (28/11/2023), Raksha Vandna found herself in a bit of a pickle after shelling out NZD 1,900 for her in-laws’ journey from Auckland, New Zealand, to India via a pitstop in Malaysia. All good so far, right? Well, not quite.

Things got hairy at Auckland International Airport, where the airline slammed the brakes on their boarding plans. Why? Because the couple forgot to bring along that fancy Australian transit visa.

Now, Vandna wasn’t exactly prepared for this bombshell. They had zero clue their flight would do the hopscotch through Australia. Armed with docs from the ticket-buying website that screamed “Malaysia” layover, not Australia, Vandna was ready to fight.

“It was a total bummer. We hauled ourselves from Tauranga with our tiny tot a day early, thinking we’d tag along with the in-laws for their crack-of-dawn flight the next day,” Vandna lamented.

Quick travel tip: Aussies demand a visa for transit, no exceptions. While Kiwi passport holders skate by, Vandna’s in-laws waved Indian passports.

Turns out, during ticket booking, the website sneakily slipped in a ‘technical stop’ note with ‘PER’ in brackets. For those not fluent in aviation lingo, a technical stop is just a quick pitstop, usually for a fuel-up. In this saga, the in-laws’ flight did a two-hour tango in Perth.

Hold up, the airline’s site had a heads-up about maybe needing a transit visa. Even the ticket app gave customers a gentle nudge to check if a visa was on the menu.

Vandna argued that the visa sitch wasn’t exactly highlighted in neon lights, and they were none the wiser about this Aussie detour. So, they bit the bullet and coughed up another USD 3,500 for a fresh set of tickets. But Vandna’s not taking this lying down. She’s gunning for a refund from the ticket booking bigwigs, swearing it’s not her fumble.

She’s been on the hotline with them, and it’s all crickets so far. Next stop? Vandna’s thinking of taking this little drama to court.

“The moolah’s not peanuts for us. We’re not just gonna let it slide,” she declared.

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