Perhaps we’ve had a small taste of what it’s going to be like dealing with the Arab world. The other day, I (Shon) finally got an itinerary e-mailed to me from the travel agency that ADEC deals with. It sounded good–flying American Airlines to Chicago, and then Etihad (AKA the Cadillac of airlines) to Abu Dhabi. I was asked to confirm it. So I did, and I asked the agent a question about my wife’s documentation (she’s now an American, so I wanted to make sure we could update her information without any hassles). I got no response regarding that, but I did get an updated itinerary–flying from Atlanta, again, but then connecting to a Royal Jordanian air flight from Chicago, instead, and with a second layover in Amman. Okay, right? Sure, but they added Jenia to the itinerary. Which would be great, except that traveling on her American passport will simplify things for her, and, more importantly, her passport hasn’t arrived yet.
We’ve been planning on having her fly over later (which is ADEC’s usual procedure). So to sort out Jenia’s travel arrangements, at least two e-mails from me to the agent end up either misunderstood or ignored. “ADEC has changed the airlines, so if you want to travel American Air and Etihad, you’ll have to contact them,” I was told. Well, okay, but that was not really the concern here. The crux is simple: although she’d love to travel with me, it’ll be better for my wife to follow me. Eventually, after a couple of days and one final attempt to communicate this, the travel agent got the idea through his head, and had me confirm the new itinerary today, this time with the wife removed from it. I’m delighted to say I actually have my e-ticket and my visa in my e-mail now.
The outcome of all this is that now we feel a little bad, because we had the chance to travel together, which we hadn’t expected and hadn’t planned for, but we rejected it. Necessity, of course, lead to the rejection. But if ADEC or Teach Away or someone had told us that the chances were good that we could leave together, we could have planned for that contingency, and there wouldn’t have been any problem. It would have been easy to expedite passport processing, for example, and the bits of business Jenia’s planning on taking care of could have been handled already.
So that’s the way it is now. It’s been a little frustrating, but we determined to just roll with it, and relax, bearing advice from folks with experience in the UAE in mind.