How did I forget my passport?
Updated: Feb 25
Right! - From that title you can tell how this ended up 🤦♂️
I may be not a seasoned traveller as some, BUT have flown enough times that I should have known better. I have flown enough times that I felt angry with myself and very embarrassed on what and how it had happened.
But, everything is an experience in this game. And with a cool head I will mention some options that were open to me. A BIG learning curve.
So, How did I forget my passport?
As some of you must have seen on my Instagram, this image was posted.
I had booked a business class trip to Helsinki. This was picked up at the British Airways Sales and I was very pleased with myself.
My mood since the booking, was of a very much looking forward to visiting this city for the first time. And that too in November! This photo that’s doing the rounds on social media also put a smile on my face 😊
Yep, that's who I was going to be!
The week leading up to it was a busy week. I didnt have much time to think about the trip. On a normal trip I have a checklist. In this case, as I was staying just the one night, I didn't feel i needed a checklist....right(!)
Most of the things needed were in my overnight travel-bag. And my passport? Well, that was safely stored away 🤨
The thing to remember here is that, it's not that I just forgot my passport i.e. I forgot my passport by picking it up and which I had left behind, but the thought of my passport itself wasn't even on my mind or on my checklist.
The day of the flight
It was a very early morning flight, around 7.55am. This meant getting up around 4am to get dropped off at Heathrow. Again, before leaving my house I've always done a final check. There was a saying I had for other's "It doesn't matter if you forget anything, as long as you have your passport" I'm sure reading this, it sounds worse and worse...almost like a comedy-sketch setup!
Except, for this trip, the thought didn't cross my mind. I picked up my bag and left. My thoughts were towards the Cathay Pacific Lounge, and experiencing it for the first time. I had heard so many good things about this lounge, which ended up being justified. There will be a lounge review another time.
So, there was no traffic on route, just me and my bag. It's only a 30 minute drive from home to the Heathrow. Good timing.
I got to Terminal 3, and went straight to security. No need to go to the check-in desk, as there were no bags for the hold. The BA app on my phone had the boarding pass. Ready as ever, I walked straight to the Fast-Track area. And found it was just me! There were 5, yes FIVE security personnel helping me to get through the security scanner and having my bag checked. The most time I spent there was trying to get my jacket and layers on! I had prepared well for the cold weather in Helsinki🥶
Everything was going quick-time. Feeling Good!👍
Having entered the departure lounge I headed straight to the Cathay Pacific lounge with a spring in my step.
I must have been at the lounge for over an hour. Having my breakfast, my tea and the very nice desserts. Looking out at the tarmac with the light trying to creep through the darkness. At no point did it cross my mind to check anything as I sat there working on my laptop. The sun had risen, and I checked the time. Right! Time to make my way to the Gate which had been announced on the screens, and kindly alerted me on the Heathrow app.
It was a 5-7 minute walk, going along the walking escalators, hop on and hop off each one, as I got closer to the gate.
And it was as I approached the gate entry, when I saw the BA Gate attendants waiting, that for the FIRST time it struck me...My Passport!
My pace slowed down. And much like the dawn of the morning, the dawn of what was happening to me entered my mind.
No...surely not...I didn't...did I? Not me, nope 😖, as I went through my jacket to search for the passport that I had suddenly thought about for the first time in the last 2 days! Yes, I forgot my passport. I didn't bring my PASSPORT, that little book which I need to pass ports.
My brain had suddenly started to travel at 100mph, thinking about what I could do now. Perhaps they will let me on, I can use my driving licence 🥺....
As I explained it to the BA gate attendant, I could see the response of "I'm sorry, you forgot your passport!?" didn't make me feel any better. I don't blame her response, as she tried to help me out by stating that we can't let you board without your passport. She advised I look in my bag again. But I knew, oh I knew, deep down that I hadn't even planned to pack it. So I rummaged around in the hope that I mistaken, and that I had accidentally put it in the bag. NOPE!
It wasn't happening, it's not happening, No WAY! How could I be so forgetfull? Your passport, for the airport, to travel on a plane!
I gathered myself and wanted to assess my options. I was told I can go back to the BA desk in departures and see what they can do to accommodate you with regards to getting to Helsinki. But I already knew there was only 1 BA flight to Helsinki tonight, and add to the fact that I was flying back into Heathrow tomorrow.
So I made my way to the BA desk which is on the far side of the departures lounge (right as you enter from security). Here I could see there were desks for most of the OneWorld airlines.
As I stood there, feeling like my world had turned upside down, I explained to the gentleman there that I had forgot my Passport. I‘m sure he had heard and seen a lot of flight quirks happen before so don’t think it bothered him that much. As I say, it may have been misunderstood as ”I forgot my passport” instead of “I forgot all about my passport to take with on my travels!”
Amy way, he said he will call the BA call centre to see if they could put me on a Finnair flight later that afternoon. Finnair is part of Oneworld, so it seemed like it may have been possible.
However I knew it wouldn't be cheap. So whilst I waited, I made a call to head back home. Whatever happens, I would still need to get the forgotten passport.
The BA representative confirmed, that it's not worthwhile spending more than £600 to get you to Helsinki via Finnair. I looked at the alternative airlines and couldn't see a cheap flight going over there from any of the London airports.
Besides, my main reason was to get the BA Tier points. This wasn't going to be achieved. Yes, I now see it as a 1st world problem, but at the time of thinking I have forgotten my passport made my head spin 😂....😔
So the gentleman told me that I could leave the airport, by going to security. And having to explain the situation, following the path around to arrivals and through passport control. I have to say, it wasn't fun having to repeatedly explain to every member of the Heathrow staff that I had forgot about my passport at an airport!
It was handy that I had a copy of my forgotten passport on my phone. I always wondered when it would come in handy, and here it is. So, I followed the instructions to get from departures to the arrivals side and head straight to Passport Control. At no point did i have that arrivals feeling that you get post holiday. No, mine was simply a feeling of wanting to get home and start arranging a refund. Passport control used my forgotten passport image saved on my phone. They accepted it and I walked through arrivals and customs, to go get my ride home. I do wonder what would have happened if I checked luggage in 🤔 🤦♂️
Once I got home, on what felt the longest 25 mins, I checked for flights again. However I couldn't see anything that was worth my time or money. A call to BA was made, and they advised the same again, that its not worth rescheduling due to the costs involved. (I had picked up a bargain on a business class flight to Helsinki) Instead they would refund me a small amount (the taxes I believe).
I also did realise when I was home, that I could have used 9 or 11k Avios to put myself on the Finnair flights that were flying later in the day. But this would have depended on redemption seats being available, and they cost slightly more in Avios as Oneworld Partners. Another lesson learnt. Your Avios can be a powerful currency if the availability is there. It’s well worthwhile on Club Europe If the prices skyrocket.
So perhaps I am not as much as a regular flyer as I thought I was. If I was, I would have a travel bag which had everything ready to go, including my forgotten passport. I would have a checklist for every flight, and at the top would be "Don't forget your Passport". But I now know that instead i will most likely be the nervous pre-flyer who checks their pockets every 5 minutes. I think it wasn't so much that I hadn’t picked up or mislaid the passport, which was in a bag or jacket which I forgot. It's the actual thought of having a passport on me, the first thing that matters when you Pass Ports. I must have been feeling very lackadaisical about the trip.
It wasn't meant to be. I believe in fate. And as such I couldn't get to fly to Helsinki to be the "Badass". At the time this was happening however, I felt REALLY stupid.
And over a few hours later, I realised it was pretty much that first world problem I was dealing with. You put things in perspective, and you learn. And today as I sit in the BA lounge to fly out to Tirana, I have my phone and my laptop still pinging me a reminder "Don't forget your Passport" 😌
I'm opening this to comments, so let me know if you ever had had the same thought at the airport "I forgot my passport"!