05 August 2008

Complications: The Further Adventures of Dealing with an Airline


So, we talked and debated and gnashed our teeth and did it. We decided on a name that we both like and believe will be perfect for our Maybe Baby. We have informed various grandparents of the name, which was met with delight. We even called the baby's mother, who is happy because we picked the name she liked best from our list.

This evening we called the airline to complete our transaction. We explained the situation, once again. They found our saved reservation and we gave them the name of the baby. They then asked the baby's birth date.

Um, weren't you listening? The purpose of the trip is to adopt a baby. A baby who hasn't been BORN YET. We don't know the baby's birth date!

Alright, we can still do it. So the representative completes the transaction and even reserves a bassinet (aka Sky Cot) for us to use in our bulkhead seats. We hang up, happy the matter has been handled.

Then GLH decides to double-check our reservation online...

Infant is booked to fly with us from Zurich to San Antonio, before he is even born, as well as from Minneapolis to Zurich 6 weeks later.

Huh? We debated just leaving it as is, but then decided we'd better fix it. The airlines have a nasty habit of automatically cancelling the return reservation if the passenger didn't check in on the outgoing flight.

So GLH calls the airline. Again.

The person we spoke with recognized the absurdity of the situation and did everything she could to fix it. But we discovered a new problem. Apparently the Department of Homeland Security has deemed that a US citizen is not allowed to take a one way flight out of the US. They have to have a flight coming back. Getting a round trip for an infant and then throwing away the other half also does not work because, quite sensibly in this case, infants cannot travel alone. 

So we got bumped up to a higher level manager-type to try to figure this one out.

After a great deal of discussion and explanation on both sides, plus a whole lot of time listening to bad hold music, it turns out there isn't a way to book the flight for the infant at this time.

Instead, we apparently have to wait until the infant is born and personally go to an airport ticket desk with the child's birth certificate, passport and proof that we are legally allowed to leave the country with this infant (i.e. he has not been kidnapped and we are not traffickers). At which time the flight will be close enough that the cost of a one way flight for an INFANT IN ARMS will become astronomical.

So now the work begins. I am going to contact the adoption agency to see if they have any tips based upon past adoptive parents who have worked through this issue.

I will also start calling the airline again and again until I get to someone with enough authority to help us resolve this situation.


So, in the end we didn't really have to come up with a name right away. But now that we have, we're gonna stick with it. Because we've got other issues to handle and at least that is one thing on our task list we can mark as finished.

Name for Baby? Check.


Susan May said...

Oh my lanta! The hassles and struggles you are enduring are incredible ... hang in there! This seems to me like "labor" multiplied by ... well, I don't know, I'm drawing a blank! Insert your number here! On a positive note, I'm glad you were able to choose a name. Good job!

Ann said...

That's not really accurate, the part about U.S. citizens getting one-way tickets out of the country. It's more up to the country they're entering. What they probably mean is that people coming into the U.S. should have a return ticket. I would just purchase a one-way ticket U.S. to your place.

The airlines NEVER know what they're talking about, so don't listen to them. Contact your local U.S. embassy... and then maybe even the Embassy for where you live (Switzerland, Germany?) in D.C.

Whatever lets you into Switzerland/Germany without a return ticket to the U.S. is the same thing your child will need to prove they can stay in the country without a visa.

Sara said...

Ann is right, you CAN have a one way ticket, the new law is you just need to have proof that you have the right to live where you going (residence permit, visa, etc.) which in practice you needed to have always (as the airline could refuse you boarding since they would be the ones to have to fly you back if the country wont let you in.)

But it does all sound difficult, I wish you luck with getting it sorted out!

Global Librarian said...

Well, all that just leads to a further complication.

Right after the birth we become the child's legal guardians until the adoption is finalized at 6 months old. Switzerland will not recognize us as the parents and issue an residency permit until the adoption is finalized. (Interesting, under Texas Law the birth certificate will show us as the parents immediately, even before the adoption is finalized.)

As it stands right now, we may bring the child into Switzerland on a 90-day tourist visa. Our immigration lawyer has a meeting with the Swiss immigration authorities to get an extended tourist visa so the child can stay in Switzerland until we all return to San Antonio for the final step. We find out next week what the result is. If they agree, I assume they will provide us with some kind of documentation.

If they don't agree, we would have to purchase tickets back to the US at the end of the 90 days and then just wait for the 6 months to be over.

We may as well wait to hear back from the lawyer before attempting anything else.

Anonymous said...

I think after lawyer, than embassy there's always public television and/or newspapers of your plight.
This is crazy red tape at its worse.

your trying to give this much wanted baby a good home and love, everyone needs to step back and look at how to make this happen - easily - for my grandchilds sake!

Diane Mandy said...

How complicated!! I am keeping all fingers and toes crossed!