We spent Tuesday morning with Veronique and the boys, with Ignacio getting quite emotional about leaving. Set off early for the airport, to avoid the rush-hour traffic, dropped off the hire car, and headed for the Business check-in desk.
Their machines couldn’t read Ignacio’s passport. This is actually quite a common occurrence – almost everywhere we go, it takes him twice as long at check-in and immigration. However, this time, after disappearing with his passport for about 15 minutes, they came back and announced that the passport was non-machine-readable, and that since a machine-readable passport is a requirement for the Visa Waiver scheme, they couldn’t let him board the plane.
What’s strange is that the Machine-readable-passport requirement has been in place since October 2004, and when we went to New York in 2007, we checked with the Spanish Embassy, who said that the passport would be fine. Likewise, British airways allowed us to board the plane to New York back then, and US Immigration let him in – the stamp is there in the passport to prove it!
The AirNZ staff were very helpful, and apologetic – even phoning US immigration for confirmation, but all to no avail.
We’ve therefore had to rebook our tickets via Hong Kong – and since we can’t face the hassle of finding a decent hotel in Hong Kong at 7am, we’re flying all the way home.
I’m sitting in the lounge at Hong Kong airport as I write this – we have a 2-hour wait before our flight continues to LHR, but we’ll be home on Wednesday lunchtime, several hundred pounds poorer! Never mind – it’ll be nice to see Jasmine !