Monday, May 20, 2019

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

95th on my continuing saga to accomplish the #lakbay100 journey
May 17 to 18, 2019

Budget Solo Week-end Trip in Winter Azerbaijan

Supposedly my 74th solo backpacking trip37th country to visit in Asian continent95th country visited on my journey #lakbay100, 5th continent on my list and of course and usual budget do-it-yourself itinerary from arrival to departure. I did not research that much for this country due also on limited time and laziness.

Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus and variously considered part of Europe or Asia. The country lies on the Caspian Sea. The majority of the population share a culture very similar to Turkey.

​Important information for UAE Expat residents:
Starting from 26-July-2018 holders of UAE residency visa can obtain tourist visa to Azerbaijan for the period of 1(one) month upon arrival at the airports of the Republic of Azerbaijan. UAE residents with a valid residence visa can enter Azerbaijan without getting a prior visa at the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in UAE. Please make sure that the validity of UAE residency visa is not less than 6 (six) months, otherwise the visa to Azerbaijan can not be issued at the airport upon arrival.

​On my more than 10 years of backpacking, two of my gruesome experience was the missed-out flight in New Delhi due to slow train travel (2012) and the challenge on Immigration Officers going in and out of Israel (2013). Six years after,  Baku airport immigration visa on arrival experience added and topped-up this list, the worst travel experience and the only visa on arrival failed experience I had 😭 #livealifeyouwillremember

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

timezone - UTC +0400H    capital - Baku   language - Azeri   currency - Manat (AZN)
visa - UAE Residents (Philippine passport holders) with 6-months visa are visa on arrival (30-days single entry).

1. It claims to be the landing place of Noah’s Ark
2. It’s home to the world’s second-tallest flag pole
3. It’s home to over 40% of the world’s mud volcanoes
4. Azerbaijan was (sort of) the first region to declare independence from the Soviet Union

My Supposedly Azerbaijan Week-end Solo Backpacking Summer Itinerary is as follows;


May 17-18 flight return Abu Dhabi to Baku 595 AED
May 17-18 Sahil Hostel Dorm 6-bed 1N 28 AED
Visa on Arrival if UAE resident; $1 = 1.65 AZN (Manat)

Day 1: May 17, 2019 Friday

0730H ETD Home; bus A2 to Abu Dhabi Airport
0830H ETA Abu Dhabi Airport; check-in
1025H ETD Abu Dhabi (UTC +0400H); EY297
1325H ETA Baku (UTC +0400H); check-out; Money Exchange $100 = 165 AZN; Bakikart 
1400H Bakubus express to May28 station 10
1500H ETA Sahil Hostel; city walk tour

Day 2: May 18, 2019 Saturday

0600H wake-up; breakfast; Gobustan + Mud Volcanoes 45+10+5
1330H ETD Hostel; taxi to airport 20
1430H ETA Baku Airport
1600H ETD Baku (UTC +0400H); flight EY298
1900H ETA Abu Dhabi (UTC +0400H)

I knew already before I went to airport that my UAE work visa was less 10 days for 6 months requirement of Azerbaijan visa on arrival, but still gambled the risk due to immigration flexibility expectation. From the check-in counter in UAE airport, the staff couldn't issue the boarding pass confirming this issue. Good thing there was boarding pass booth issuance and made myself passed until the UAE airport boarding gate. Even on this area, I was blocked because of the less 6 months validity but minutes later staff gave my passport / boarding pass and managed the consideration to board the plane.

Upon arrival in Baku airport, Immigration officers immediately notified me that they cannot issue VOA (Visa on Arrival) and wait for their high-ranking Officer. I have waited a
round an hour and unfortunately, failed to have the VOA, and escorted to boarding gate locked-up area where passengers are on stand-by with visa issues. As the flight ticket immediately going back to UAE was very expensive at that moment and since I am on mindset to be on this country for this week-end, I decided to stay for 24 hours until my flight on the next day. I'm hoping also the Officers might consider my VOA after hours of detention but nothing happened. While locked-up, we were always escorted every time we were going to toilet and restaurant, we were not allowed also to roam around. Good thing there was a strong wi-fi signal and refreshments.

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

What I am really terrified / mad / in trauma on this experience were as follows;

1. Detained like a prisoner - my first visa on arrival failed experience, more than 24 hours escorted / guarded everywhere and locked-up in boarding gate corner area

2. Flexibility of the 6-months requirement - I have experienced already the minor shortage requirement to other countries and all of them are successful. Also, I saw 5 Irish ladies with same case like me and yet I was the only one brought in the stand-by area, totally unfair because I was just Philippine passport holder.

3. Understanding and Consideration - I showed my return ticket the next day, confirm hotel reservation, explain I have enough budget and yet they have VERY STRICT COMPLIANCE OF 6 MONTHS UAE VISA MINIMUM VALIDITY

4. Lost in Translation - there was a 4pm flight day going back to UAE. I keep reminding the Officers but NONE of them understood what I'm saying and NONE of them doesn't care. I am really frustrated I did not make the return flight that day, airport officers totally don't care of the misery I had. No one couldn't speak/understand English also. 

Since I don't have the immigration check-in/out stamp on my passport, I went to special process going back to UAE which as follows;

1. Immigration Officer arrived in Boarding Gate Locked-up Area 30 minutes before the flight departure where I was detained for 1 day due to flight unavailability (very scary part !!!)

2. This Officer escorted me to departure boarding gate until we reached the aircraft passenger door. My passport and my boarding pass still with him and handed over to the Cabin Crew Manager.

3. Cabin Crew Manager told me that my case was "inadmissible", meaning I will be escorted again by Ground Staff in UAE. My passport was still not with me.

4. Upon arrival in UAE, my passport was handed-over to Ground Staff and escorted again inside arrival hall. The Ground Staff photocopied my passport and Deportation Form.

5. After that, the very first moment I have my passport since yesterday. The Ground Staff in UAE and Azerbaijan confirm this case was not deportation and I can freely come back in Azerbaijan as long as I have valid visa.

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan

​Week-end "Boarding Gate Locked-up" Life in Baku Airport, Azerbaijan


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