One-Way is NOT the NORM, Apparently!


Our first post from Chiang Mai, Thailand.

It was surreal for us too when we purchased our one-way tickets to Chiang Mai, Thailand departing from LAX.  Even more surreal when we got to the China Air check-in counter at LAX for our departure at 2am that morning.

A very pleasant lady at the counter looked strangely at us and stated “you have one-way tickets?”  Naturally, our answer was “yes, we do for all three of us (with an exclamation point)”     Then it got very interesting…

“Are you going to live there?”

“Do you have visas, a letter from your daughter’s school?”

“Do you have a Thai passport?”

“Are you traveling on-ward and how will you do that- what mode of transportation if you don’t have return air tickets?”

Hmmmm…” she pondered “No return tickets? That might be a problem once you arrive in Thailand~”

“Well you may have to buy air tickets for Laos once you arrive in Thailand” (we told her we are going to Laos by land which is our plan and was one of two recommendations by the school!)

She quietly left the counter and went to the back office for what appears to be a consultation for an unusual situation or apparently, a situation not encountered often. Hmmmm!  She got us a little worried.  We looked at each other with a “Did we do something wrong?” look.  Hmmm.

So we waited for her to return.  She came back to the counter and said, “we need you to sign a waiver”

“A WAIVER?” we repeated!  “What are we waiving we asked each other?”  We had no idea it was going to get THIS complicated.

So in the end, the waiver is really to release the airline of any responsibilities in the event we arrive and the Thai immigration does not allow us entry to the country.

What I knew for sure was that there is a 30-day transit visa for each entry upon arrival by air.  So we went ahead and signed the waiver and continued with the check-in.

Stay tuned for our update post about our on-ward trip to Laos by land in August.

Has anyone had this experience in Thailand or in another country?  We want to hear from you so we can compare notes  and just because we find this very intriguing and interesting!

We Say NO to the Status Quo.

Live Small.  Live Green.  Give Large. Take Little.

Take Notice.  Take Action.

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8 thoughts on “One-Way is NOT the NORM, Apparently!

  1. Wow. We’ve been backpacking around Asia for the last 7 months with our kids and never struck this once. Although we’re yet to try to enter/leave from any of the really tricky countries like China and the US! We only had one way tickets, nothing else booked for Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam… no one ever asked! Maybe we’ve been lucky!

    Love Daniel’s comment about the UAE and nomadic lifestyle!

  2. You’re very lucky. It must have been your cute little girl that got you through. 😉 Good thing it was China Airlines and not a US carrier. Most US carriers (Delta is the worst) are enforcing the “return or onward ticket” rules that nearly every country in the world has as an official policy (although almost none ask to see it on arrival). They will deny check-in unless you buy a return ticket (big bucks if you want a refundable one). Most won’t let you use the hop you the next destination in the region as “onward”. It’s not enforced every time. I’ve had friends asked for proof of a return in situations like these. Now when I send travelers one way–I set them up with a real reservation and fake ticket numbers until they’ve made it to their destinations. It works every time. Beware of buying a round trip from your new home as well…especially when headed back to the US. When you attempt to return to SE Asia…you’ll be right back in the same position (unless you’ve secured a visa at that point). I’ve had clients en route to New Zealand, Costa Rica, Uruguay (including us since that’s where we’re living) and many more asked to show proof of return. We pull out our trusty itinerary to humor the counter and we’re on our way.

    Why do the airlines want the waiver in as in your case? Theoretically you could be deported on arrival. The airline will likely be the one stuck sending you back and they’re heavily fined (thousands of dollars per person) for boarding someone without the required documentation. We’ve done it twice to Uruguay and we’re asked for proof once. I have a friend in Costa Rica that needs to leave the country overland or by air every 90 days. The land crossings have asked to see her return/onward ticket…so there apparently are some governments that will check. She have a travel companion turned away…but she got through without any trouble. She just sent me a Facebook message tonight for a new “ticket” for her trip this weekend. Best of luck with everything! We’ll be checking in regularly. Take care! (Longest comment ever…sorry!)

  3. Interesting. We flew to Thailand from Korea in April on a one-way ticket and nobody seemed to mind. We’ll be headed back there on a one-way ticket on Friday, so hopefully everything goes smoothly.

    We’ve been to a number of countries who officially have a policy that travelers must have an onward ticket, but I’ve never actually seen it enforced.

  4. Hmmmm. I have a one-way to China on Sept. 1st. I think I need to look into this, although I will have a Visa. Looking forward to reading about the trip to Laos, as I am on my way there as well.

  5. You were lucky you had to sign a waiver.

    In Decmber, I got refused boarding on my way to Dubai because I had a one-way ticket. I lost 400 euros worth of ticket and nobody wanted to do anything about it.

    Apparently, many countries do the same, they refuse one ways if you don’t have a visa..

    And what I found most ironic? the UAE national airline refusing me because I chose to live a nomadic lifestyle (did they forget where they came from?).

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