My arrival in Puerto Vallarta was easy.
My flight from PV to Mexico City was easy. I had a two-hour connection and was given my boarding pass in PV for the continuation flight on COPA to Panama.
Everything was going well until I got to the gate. Just about 45 minutes before the flight I was denied boarding because my tourist card was missing. It was missing because it had fallen out of my passport and into some crevice in my bag. The actual document above showed up a month later when cleaning out my carry-on bag.
The folks in Mexico are serious about your tourist card! With all of the talk about the wall and reciprocations, without it filled out and returned at departure, you do not leave Mexico.
Still planning to leave? I had to jump through hoops and pay some dinero to get a new one issued
Here is how it went. 45 minutes to flight:
First I tore into my bag looking for the tourist card. Minutes passed and I was required to leave the departure hall, go down to Immigration (outside) wait for space and advise them that my tourist card was lost. They gave me such a hard time. I was required to go to the local bank and get pesos to purchase them at a cost of about $25.00 US.
- Go to a cash machine
- Get the document needed for a lost Tourist card
- Find the bank in the airport to get a check equivalent to US 25 in pesos
- Get equivalent of pesos and pay the fee for the bank check about $35
- Then with the bank check return to Immigration
- Return to Immigration – wait on the line and pay with the check for the new Tourist Card.
- My plane to Panama was now leaving.
- Now with the new tourist card, I ran through immigration line and security only to arrive back at the gate a 5 minutes before the flight. I was denied boarding. They gave my seat away.
- COPA did not protect my seat and the next flight was sold out; it was leaving in three hours. Worse yet, I was told the ticket was no longer good and I would purchase a brand new ticket.
- I left the waiting area and headed to the COPA ticket line. Even with status, the line was daunting.
- Marty in my office (Director of Reservation Services) protected me with the last seat on COPA flight to Panama City; It was in First Class with an additional charge of $400.00. I paid it gladly. There was no refund for my unused portion.
The moral of the story is keeping your tourist card safe and handy.
Tip: Keep an elastic band around the last page of your passport. Firmly affix the document to the inside.