Saturday, February 25, 2012

taiwan visa-exempt entry and my cebu pacific experience

koryn and i booked our ticket to taipei without knowing that we would need visas to enter the country. we've always thought that we could travel there visa-free. 

so the minute i found out that we would need visas, i did my research right away, so i could start collecting the requirements for the visa application. 

as it turns out, i was lucky enough to be qualified for visa-exempt entry to taiwan. the country offers visa-exempt entry for holders of passports issued in india, indonesia, the philippines, thailand, and vietnam, provided you have a valid visa for travel to australia, canada, japan, new zealand, the schengen countries, the united kingdom, and the united states. remember, it's not enough that you've had a visa from any of these countries; you have to make sure the visa is still valid. 

if you are qualified for visa-exempt entry, you have to print out your own authorization certificate here. you have to key in your passport number, and the number of the valid visa that serves are your ticket to visa-exempt entry. 

now, i did this in november of 2011, to get it out of the way. why do it at the last minute, when i could rest easy knowing i've done the "hard part," and i could concentrate on reading up on taipei and finding out what else we could do there. koryn, on the other hand, had to apply for a taiwanese visa. requirements and application information can be found here.

fast forward to february 2012, the day of our departure. koryn checks us in online using cebu pacific's web check-in facility (very convenient). but even though we already had our boarding passes, we still decided to be at the airport two hours before our flight in case anything should happen. 

that was a very good call on our part, because something did happen. we went up to the check-in counters to drop off our luggage, and the cebu pacific attendant checked our passports. she asked for my authorization certificate, and told me there's a problem with it. 

apparently, the authorization certificate is only valid for one month after you applied for it/printed it out, which means mine was considered invalid since december 8, 2011. i felt like such an idiot for not checking if the document had a validity period. it was a big fail on my part.

while my brain was panicking, i was still able to ask the cebu pacific attendant if there was anything i could do to re-apply for it. thankfully, they had a computer available that has the link to the application bookmarked (i'm assuming i'm not the only idiot this has happened to). they let me in behind the counters and i quickly keyed in my details again. they even allowed me to print out the certificate. i offered to pay for the print out, since i knew i had inconvenienced them and even used up their resources, but they refused (nicely, of course). i went on my merry way and was able to enter taipei without a problem.

i am very thankful to the cebu pacific staff who were behind the counter that day. it was very nice to know that they were competent and conscientious enough to spot my stupid mistake. and they handled the whole thing very well--i wasn't spoken to rudely, the attendant actually broke it to me gently. 

it's very refreshing to be saying something nice about this airline, since, like most people who travel around the philippines, i have experienced delays and bad customer service from cebu pacific. and i really wanted to highlight this particular incident, because we shouldn't just make a big deal out of the bad stuff we get; we should also try and recognize the things that they're doing right, even above and beyond their job descriptions. it's always nice to know that these occurrences of niceness still happen. :)

taiwanese visa application links and information:

visa fees:
Php 2,400 for single entry visas
Php 4,800 for multiple entry visas

processing time: 3 days


Koryn said...

I remember panicking at that moment too! But thank God there was a solution.

I agree with your sentiments. CebuPac has had way more than its share of mishaps but I appeeciate them for what they are--a budget airline that provided more travel opportunities to Pinoys.

That's not to say they don't need to improve anymore. They do. But at least they have redeeming qualities too.

i gotta go! said...

i agree with everything you said. while i expect more improvements to come from them, we, as passengers, should also adjust our expectations. :)

Airticketonsale SG said...

You're right. It's very refreshing to hear something nice about Cebu Pacific, especially since i've heard quite a number of complaints about their flights to taipei. It makes me feel hopeful because I just had a problem with another carrier. >.<

Anyway, it's also a good thing that you provided info about the taiwanese visa. it makes many people go nuts! :) Thanks!!!

Singapore - Taipei Tours said...

Very lucky on your part because a helpful staff assist you with that unexpected travel problem. And your travel plans went well after that.

Gold On Runescape said...

Anyhow, it is also the best thing which you presented info about the particular taiwanese credit. it makes many people move nuts! :) Cheers!!!runescape gold

Travel Top 10 said...

Lesson learned, double check the expiration dates, and other important travel documents prior to departure dates :)