If I was to give anyone advice about travelling it would be that you have to be prepared for anything. The most random situation is going to happen to you when you least expect it, and trust me it’ll be a whole lot easier if you have everything you need when you’re trying to get the Irish border security to believe that you’re not seeking asylum in their country…
So after a hard (and I mean HARD) 5 days of partying in Ibiza I was looking forward to seeing my family in England and getting some well-deserved rest.
My friend and I decided to part ways for a mere three days and that’s where alarm bells should’ve started ringing. When you’re as disorganised as me and rely on your more organised, mature friend to carry all kinds of important documents, you should never, and I repeat NEVER leave them.
So off I go on my flight to Manchester via Belfast. Admittedly I wasn’t even sure where Belfast was but was happy I got to add to my travel sticker collection.
Arrive at Belfast (which is in Northern Ireland by the way) and make my way to the check in point. I was starving on the plane but knew that I had a long 7 hour stop-over so I would have plenty of time to nurse my post-Ibiza hangover with an abundance of greasy food.
Cheering. There’s no one else in the line. I can smell the burger and chips already. Maybe I’ll get two burgers? I don’t know, I’ll have so much time to decide.
Cute young guy with an accent at the border. This should be a breeze.
Oh, you’d like to keep my passport while I wait over there? He hands me a piece of paper. Maybe they’re upgrading my flight! Wow I underestimated my charms.
That’s funny, I’m fairly sure this is another flight going through security. The flight attendants are wearing different uniforms.
Here’s another flight going through.
People are starting to look at me like I’m a criminal. I guess this area where I’m sitting is pretty secluded. A mother has just told her son off for staring at me too long.
Let’s give this piece of paper the cutie at the desk gave me a gander.
“You have been detained. Your passport has been detained. You may be required to go through medical examination.”
This is where I enter a kind of weird, calm panic attack. I even think I actually let out a laugh.
The Irish security man, let’s call him Patrick, comes over a while later and informs me of the situation.
Because all of my documents are with my friend in London they are unable to believe me that I have a return ticket to Australia, thusly assuming that I wish to illegally seek asylum in their country.
I see three problems with this scenario:
- I come from Australia. People want to illegally seek asylum in my country.
- If I was to escape my country to move to a different one for brighter and happier beginnings, why in the world would I choose Northern Ireland? I wasn’t even sure where Belfast was two hours ago.
- I am half British. If (God forbid) I would so happen to make Northern Ireland my new home, I would have easily been able to organise a dual citizenship for the UK and be on my merry way. But you see I wouldn’t. Because it’s a hole.
Patrick didn’t seem too exhilarated with my reaction, when I literally laughed in his face. I only realised the severity of the situation when he said they need to search my luggage and decide whether to send me back to Ibiza or not.
So off I go with my luggage downstairs into the examination rooms. There I meet four brooding guards who proceed to go through my bags.
I sit and watch as they unfold all my clothing, go through my receipts, and read my travel journal. They couldn’t have read it too thoroughly though because there’s a lot more incriminating written evidence in there than a missing airline ticket.
After checking my luggage, going through dirty clothes, and photocopying pages of said travel journal they made me wait in where I can only imagine they keep convicted drug traffickers.
My mate Patrick comes back from his boss with an ultimatum. They either a) send me back to Ibiza (which at this point I wouldn’t have been too bothered about) or b) let me in, under the condition that they stamp my passport saying that if I haven’t left the country by October 3rd that I would then be a wanted criminal and face prison time.
I went with option b.
My ordeal took a total of 4 hours. You can imagine my reaction when I finally get onto Irish soil to find that their airport only contained a Burger King, a newsagency, a chemist and a couple of vending machines. I was fuming.
So, a lesson to the avid traveller. Never underestimate how easily you can get dicked going through border security. Always have documentation on you, photocopied three times in my case if you’re prone to losing things. And say hi to my mate Patrick next time you’re heading to Belfast.