As a dual citizen, I am not a stranger to travelling with two passports. However, today the nightmare of every traveller hit me like a ton of bricks and I was forced to miss my flight :-( Here is a tip to avoid this happening to you, but first, a little background.
So, how did this happen?
Well… I travel multiple times a year and I usually use my British passport to travel since it allows me to either get in to most countries (yay for the EU!) without a visa or get visa on arrival. As a result, a visa is not something I usually think about unless I’m travelling outside Europe or further afield like South America. Its certainly not something I think about when Im going to Nigeria since I also have a Nigerian passport!
That callousness cost me today when I arrived at the Emirates checkin counter 2 hours early (I like to live on the wild side) for my 10.40am flight. Proud of myself for arriving at Dubai airport in a less manic state than usual, I cheerfully handed the checkin lady my british passport. She flicked through to the last page and suddenly asked if I had another passport. Confused – I asked why?
The response: “Errrm, because you need a visa?”
My mind flashed to my plan of sipping a coconut on the beach tomorrow with friends and those dreams were dashed in an instant!
In my haste to get to the airport on time, I had forgotten to pick up my Nigerian passport! Luckily I live about 15 minutes away from the airport so I ran through DXB (not so gracefully), hailed a taxi and was back home in ten minutes hunting through my ‘admin’ drawer to find my Nigerian passport. I spotted it in a pristine condition towards the back of the drawer. I breathed a huge sigh of relief until I opened it and the expiry date SCREAMED – 31 December 2016!
The thing is, my Nigerian passport looked so fresh and new because I only obtained it in 2011. I might be all over the place, but I usually try to organised when it comes to travel and I hadn’t checked my Nigerian passport because I figured that it would still be valid because afterall, British passports last for ten years right? Wrong. For some reason, Nigerian passports are only valid for FIVE years!
I placed my two passports side by side on my dressing table and knew there was no chance that I would be travelling on either of them today :-( The sad thing is that the main purpose of my trip was to surprise my parents for their 31st wedding anniversary but unfortunately, a phone call will have to do for now. On a positive note, Emirates allowed me to reschedule my flight to later in the year and it cost me £75. A pretty penny, but still cheaper than having to book a new flight! Fortunately for me, I called the Emirates customer care line as soon as I realised that my Nigerian passport would not be getting me anywhere and was able to reschedule as I was not checked in to the flight. I always checkin in advance, but I think the checkin lady cancelled my reservation thinking it was unlikely that I would make the flight. Thanks for jinxing me pal! haha!
Anyway, the moral of the story is this:
If you are travelling with two passports – ALWAYS check the expiry date of both of them!
If you are a dual citizen like me, it is inevitable that you will use one passport more than the other and it is very likely that one day you will forget one of your passports at home, and worse still – arrive at the airport with an expired passport!
The somewhat bright side of this is that I now have five days of vacation time in Dubai which I intend to use productively by producing more travel vlogs for my youtube channel! Please do subscribe, like, share and all that good stuff.
P.s. heed my warning! It may seem obvious but my friend texted me this morning saying that my facebook rant on the above topic prompted her to check her passport too. It expires 7 days before her next trip! That would have been fun for her trying to come back to Dubai on an expired passport. ha!