Azerbaijan – The Trip That Didn’t Happen – Make Sure You Read The e-Visa Website Properly!

This is a blog about a huge travel mistake that cost us the entire trip to Azerbaijan.

Michael and I had planned to visit Azerbaijan during this past Eid Al-Adha holiday.  We had our flights booked, hotel booked – months in advance.  With inquiries to friends who had travelled to Azerbaijan – they said that you needed to apply online for a visa to enter the country.  In my overwhelmed brain of flights, hotels, Airbnbs and transportation logistics for our summer break to Athens, Mykonos, Naxos, Athens, Timmins, Kapuskasing, Toronto, Courteney, Campbell River, Halifax and then finally Baku – my brain misread what it saw with my usual quick scan of things of Azerbaijan’s e-Visa website.  All I took notice of was what I thought said 3 DAY AHEAD.

It’s not 3 days ahead – it is 3 EASY STEPS!!!

You need to apply a week in advance.  If your arrival date is within that week before you arrive – you cannot process a visa.  Your window is closed – you cannot enter the country.

There is an option for – Urgent – Within 3 Hours – but this option was not available when I tried because our arrival date was within the week before we arrived.  Make sense?

Click HERE for the Azerbaijan e-Visa link.

Because we thought – due to my mistake – that it was 3 days before we enter the country to apply for a visa – we couldn’t enter.  Everything we tried to do – including trying to contact customer service on the website – did nothing.

We lost our hotel, our flights, etc….

Michael was in a real predicament because I was flying from Doha to Baku.  He was flying from Toronto, to Istanbul to Baku.  He made it as far as Istanbul – and with the Eid Break – flights to Doha were very expensive – it was cheaper for him to stay in Istanbul for Eid – then buy a ticket to Baku’s airport and use the return flight that was originally booked to get home to Doha.  Sounds easy, right?  Don’t forget there is his luggage too – that had to be taken off of his recently bought flight into Baku and get his luggage off that plane onto a flight that was booked months in advance…..and without a visa he wasn’t allowed past customs to get his luggage off the carousal.  Here is Michael’s account at the Baku Airport:

“My fears about the luggage were justified. I still feel really lucky that they let me get on the plane in Istanbul. Every single person in the plane went through passport control… except for me. A couple of hundred people turned left and I turned right. But I didn’t have a boarding pass to get into the departure gate lounge and my luggage was only checked to Azerbaijan and was on the other side of passport control. Of course I couldn’t go that way because I didn’t have a visa. A real official looking dude came over to help me out. He took my passport, my Qatar ID and my baggage tag and disappeared for a half hour. He finally brought my documents back along with a boarding pass for Qatar. A somewhat bizarre conversation followed…
ME: How do I get my luggage? It is on the non-secured part of the airport at the baggage carousel.
HIM: You will need a visa to get through passport control into the non-secured part of the airport.
ME: I tried to get a visa online. It takes three business days to process.
HIM: You can get an emergency visa for $100 that will get processed in three hours.
ME: I really don’t want to pay $100 to get my luggage back.
HIM: The $100 is not for getting your luggage. It is for a visa to get into Azerbaijan.
ME: I do not want to get into Azerbaijan. I just want my luggage.
HIM: Your luggage is on the carousel on the other side of passport control.
ME: (short pause until I figured out how to reply to this logic) Ummmmmm
HIM: I can start the visa process for you if you like.
ME: I really don’t want to pay $100 to get my luggage back.
HIM: The $100 is not for getting your luggage. It is for a visa to get into Azerbaijan.
ME: But I am just in transit here. I am going to Qatar. I live in Qatar. I do not want to go into Azerbaijan.
HIM: (short pause until he figured out how to reply to this logic) Ummmmmm
ME: If I am being made to pay for a visa to get my luggage back then it wasn’t necessary for you to get my Qatar boarding pass for me. I could have done that myself after I got the visa.
HIM: (another short pause) There might be another way. I will take your luggage tag again and retrieve your luggage from the carousel and check into on to your flight at 22:15.
ME: Thank you.
HIM: I will deliver the new baggage tag to you at your departure gate.
ME: Thank you.”
No matter how much you travel……there is AWLAYS something!!!
This oversight was a real wake up call to paying attention to entry visas…
S, xo

 

 

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