By shills - 24 Sep 2012
If returning to your boat in South America on the return part of a flight ticket (for example London to Buenos Aires (Argentina)), then airline check-in staff will ask for ‘proof of onward travel’. Recently, flying from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires, KLM check-in staff would not accept official documentation issued to me by the Argentinean Coastguard (Prefectura). This documentation had all my details and the yacht details and where she was, and clearly showed my onward travel itinerary from Buenos Aires to Punta del Este (Uruguay) (i.e. another country). The supervisors insisted onward travel should be a ‘ticket’. The main problem appeared that for the ‘tourist’ flight ticket that I had, the computer only had two options for proof of onward travel (‘onward ticket’ or ‘return ticket’) (i.e. computer said “No”)!!. It was suggested that I should have purchased a seaman (crew) flight ticket (as a crew list is acceptable for that type of ticket), but this is incorrect advice as Argentinean law requires us to travel as tourists, not as commercial seamen. As the KLM supervisors could not interpret my official documentation as proof of onward travel, ridiculously I was required to purchase a 1700 GBP one-way fully refundable ticket from Buenos Aires back to Europe. On arrival in Buenos Aires, immigration accepted my Argentinean Coastguard official papers without question.
Earlier on in the year returning from London Gatwick (UK) to Rio de Janerio (Brazil), KLM staff accepted signed and stamped Policia Federal do Brasil paperwork as ‘proof of onward travel’.
I suggest that before you leave a country where your boat is (on a return flight ticket), an extra level of paperwork (is another level possible?!) may be obtainable from the local immigration office. Otherwise, if have already left the country, I suggest you contact the flight company before travelling to obtain confirmation that your paperwork will be accepted at check-in as ‘proof of onward travel’. Although not always asked for by immigration on arrival, I suggest you have some additional paperwork (such as a receipt or letter) for the yard/marina/club where your boat is if it is not specified on your Prefectura or Policia Federal paperwork.
I have made a formal complaint regarding why my official documentation was not accepted as proof of onward travel (it clearly is to anyone that can read it), and will post the response.