How I ended up entering China without a visa
- Flight Tokyo Haneda to Hongkong a transfer in Shanghai Pudong
- old China visa in my passport
- confused people at the airport
- at that time no transit visa in China yet
When I checked in for my flight something was odd already, although I only had a transit I was asked for a visa for China. But seeing my old one the woman at the check in counter did not wait for my answer. “Don’t forget your baggage in Shanghai” was the last thing she said. That confused me because again I only had to transfer, but due to other bad experiences with this airline I thought I better shouldn’t question that.
During the flight I suddenly realized what was happening when I heard this: “Please prepare for landing in Shanghai Hongqiao“. I had to transfer to another airport and nobody had informed me about that when I bought the ticket. The cabin crew couldn’t help me, visa-on-arrival was only possible if you’re Taiwanese and I had about five hours to transit without a visa.
On the Alien-Arrival-Card I wrote “transfer” with big letters and the woman at the immigration counter didn’t seen happy at all. “I will leave your as soon as possible if you let me enter it”, was one of the many things I said. She called support using her walkies-talkie and I was brought to an office. I suddenly felt like being when a guy came in and took weapons out of a cupboard to watch me.
People came in and questioned me, checked my flight ticket multiple times, said things to each other in Chinese and took my passport… They also called some one from the airline to confirm that my ticket isn’t a fake. I kept calm and started making plans in case I couldn’t get the plane to Hongkong. After a felt eternity I got my passport back with a new stamp in it: “Stay Permit” for 24 hours and with a “Good luck, take a taxi” they finally let me leave the office. Now the real run started.
My backpack was the only thing on the baggage track and a person from Lost and Found already wanted to take it. I also took 100 Euro in Chinese currency out of an ATM. The other airport was two hours away and everybody recommended a taxi, except one guy. He told told me, that there was a cheap bus leaving from the other terminal and to get there I could take a free shuttle. I found it really quick but it left 20 minutes later. Over an hour was gone already and I haven’t left the airport yet.
In the other terminal I met two Japanese woman looking for the same bus, they also had a ticket, but the counter had just closed. There also was a bus station but no bus. When I asked people the only answer was
“the bus will come”, but no time when, so I set myself a deadline of 20 minutes. And when I started asking people for the closest exit the bus arrived. I got on it and bought a ticket for 4 Euro. The only thing I was able to do from that point was waiting, the bus usually needs 2 hours and that would be enough time.
Well… leaving the airport the bus drove in the biggest traffic jam I’ve ever seen. I was glad I didn’t take a taxi. But it didn’t get too bad, the traffic jam didn’t last forever and I finally reached the airport. The check in counter was still open and I had 45 minutes until boarding.
You can’t imagine how happy I’ve been. Now I had time to check what happened. On all tickets and documents there only was Shanghai written on it, no IATA code, so I haven’t had a chance to prevent this.
Now I always check twice before booking, especially if it’s a really cheap flight. Today China has a transit visa, so it would be much easier, but I don’t want to repeat that.
Spontaneously without a visa in China. Don’t Panic!