Cape Verde to KL: Arrested By Immigration & Other Screw ups!

KL

The flight from KL to Cape Verde was eventful with the scariest part – the pilot reporting that the plane has an engine problem and the plane making 180 degree back to Lisbon. Image: Wrap done on luggage

After 2 months in Cape Verde and gotten busy with work, we soon forgotten about this and we were looking forward very much on the trip back home, back to tanahair, back to family and back to all that glorious Malaysian food.

Our flight was scheduled to leave Praia at lunch time so that it meant we need to be at the airport as early as 9 am as we have no idea how busy the airport is going to be. The hotel had arranged the hotel van to send us to the airport and whilst waiting for the van, we managed to grab some breakfast. Yes, we already thinking roti canai and teh tarik for our next breakfast on land.

Soon we saw the van – 1 small van for all of us (7 of us) so the driver had some headache arranging the luggage at the limited space at the back of the van. I was pretty sure that some of the luggage was damaged as he kept pushing, squeezing and cramming in the bags on top of another.

We were early at the airport as it was just a short distance from the hotel – but the check in counter has not been opened. It seems like the people here takes things very lightly here so there was no rush. As a standard practice, I always wrap my luggage to protect it – it is a lesson painfully learned after my trip to Cambodia a long time ago (full story here). Good thing, Praia airport had the luggage wrapping counter – it cost me EURO10 for the wrap.

We had to wait a little bit longer before TAP airline counter opened for check in. The lady at the counter spoke very little English so it proved problematic when we tried to ask if we can send our luggage all the way from Cape Verde to KL and not just Lisbon – just like Emirates managed to send ours from KL to Cape Verde on the first flight.

We were trying our luck as we already ready to check our luggage out in Lisbon and check in again as we had plenty of time to kill. After a few discussions with her colleagues, the lady at the counter confirmed that the arrangements have been done. Great – then we have one less problem to take care in Lisbon.

We walked down to the immigration where a long line had started to form. To be frank, we expected some hiccups here because in our visa extension approval, some of the names & passport number were incorrectly stated in the extension sticker.

We were worried that the immigration officers may be too strict of these discrepancies even though we were assured that it is not an issue. I was second of the line among the team and I walked to the immigration counter, I knew something was not right as the officer keep looking at the visa extension and called her superior.

The same happened to my colleagues on the other counters. Soon we were called aside and huddled into a corner whilst the other passengers went through the immigration without any issues. Different officers attended us, checking our papers and then questioning us from the start to end and then keep repeating the questions to see if our answers remained the same.

At this point, I was more worried about missing our flight as it was already time for boarding.

The immigration officers’ unhappy face did not help the situation – we were expected the worst case scenario – we arrested for overstaying, missing our flight, imposed a heavy fine, etc (although we knew our client in Cape Verde will step in to ensure our return flight is not compromised).

Eventually one of the officers collected mine and another member’s passport and gets it stamped and allowed us in the boarding area. Then one by one the remaining team members were released and allowed in. We were relieved and were looking forward to board our plane when it was announced that the flight had been delayed by almost 2 hours.

KL

Held back at immigration, flight delayed, what else could go wrong, right?

The plane eventually came and this time it was a smooth flight from Cape Verde to Lisbon and I also got my on board vege-meal as others got their beef meal. We had plenty of time on transit (even though reduced by the 2 hours delay) so we decided to exit the immigration in Lisbon and spend some time outside and also at the duty free area where we can shop and dine. Image: The delayed flight in the middle, just arrived after 2 hours delay

I had a chill beer and a good sandwich at one of the many food stalls inside the duty free airport. One two hours before the boarding time, we slowly made our way to the Emirates gate where soon the staff created 2 main queues – those who had checked in online (they wanted to double check the details) and those who had checked in at the airport.

We had checked in online and also expected the luggage to be sent all the way to KL – so we did not expect much fuss at the gate. The Emirates staff checked our boarding pass and asked us about our luggage as they cannot find our luggage in their system. We started to panic – the TAP staff in Praia apparently had screwed up big time. Now we have missing luggage and soon it is going to be time to board the plane.

One thing about Emirates is that their customer service is truly amazing!

The Emirates staff quickly gathered us, collected our details and quickly informed the ground crew to search for our missing luggage. The effort that they put to trace our luggage was truly exceptional given the flight was full and they had other impatient passengers to attend to and the departure time getting closer and closer. Within 30 minutes, the ground crew managed to trace our missing luggage, put it back on the Emirates flight and updated the staff at the gate on the status. We were then issued with new boarding pass with tags for our “lost & found” luggage.

Then there was nothing much to do except to board the plane and just enjoy the Emirates class of service and hospitality. The onboard entertainment was superb and the food & service was excellent as expected. The Dubai to KL flight was uneventful as well and another chance to savor the comfort of A380.

The only complaint I have is that Dubai airport was over crowded and there was any empty seats for us near the gates. Many especially from Pakistan and Bangladesh were basically sitting down on the floor. Good thing was we were a big team so we took turns taking our laptop bags whilst some of the us went to the toilet, walked around (for those first timers in Dubai) and shopping.

Landed in KLIA was smooth but by then it was already late at night – we were tired, sleep and hungry and could not wait to go back home. Considering that our luggage was not in the Emirates system at Lisbon, we were quite anxious to see if the Emirates ground crew did find the correct luggage.

Plenty of luggage were coming into the luggage carousal but no sight of our luggage. Then one of my team members called me from the other side of the carousal – they found my luggage. Then others found theirs as well. But not all were lucky – 2 of the guys could not find their luggage – it was still stuck in Lisbon and they could only get it tomorrow. But there was nothing much to worry by then – we were back home so it was not a big deal if the luggage was delayed for a day or two.

We were back in our tanahair!!

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