“Mental Gymnastics in the Airport” Pandemic Prowling #15


About Pandemic Prowling: In this series, Pandemic Prowling, I share stories about my travels across 4 continents (Asia, N. America, S. America, Africa) amidst the outbreak of Covid19.


(August 2020)

Onward to Brazil

In the previous post, being denied boarding during a connecting flight to Santiago, Chile in Miami led to me being stranded in an airport and by the next day, finding myself in Houston waiting for my flight to Sao Paolo, Brazil. Thankfully they allowed me to board without much hassle. Their one request was that all passengers boarding the flight present proof of health insurance to cover any unexpected illnesses. A new policy since the Brazilian boarders reopened.

Not a problem, I said to myself. I had my insurance card where I (believe) am covered under my parents healthcare plan. I showed them this card and was permitted to board without issue. And the flight was just like any other which I didn’t think too much about. By the time we arrived and were clearing immigration, things seemed like any other. I got in line to show them my passport and to get a visa stamp. The Brazilian officer once again stopped me to ask to see proof of insurance and I complied by showing them the insurance card.

Problems at the Brazilian Immigration

They informed me this was not acceptable proof of insurance and that I would need to buy a new one. I definitely was not happy about this as I got pulled to the side to purchase a government approved insurance package. After a lot of back and forth, I was told I needed to buy an insurance package for more then what I’d like to pay for.

But then a new “brilliant” idea hit me. I would purchase the insurance, but then immediately ask for a refund after clearing immigration. I took this plan and ran with it. At this point, me being the last person still having not yet cleared immigration, all eyes were on me. That meant increased scrutiny. All that extra attention led them to detect that there was something shifty about the way I was trying to clear the border. But I had still technically followed all their regulations. So with a lot of fuss and dirty looks, they stamped me into Brazil.

And they were right to be suspicious. Immediately having cleared all the immigration and security functions, I sat down by myself in an empty arrivals area (flights were sparse plus I was last to get through), I connected my phone to the airport Wifi to make a call to the insurance company I had just purchased a plan from less then an hour ago. They gave me a refund without hassle.

And with that, I was in Brazil.

5 thoughts on ““Mental Gymnastics in the Airport” Pandemic Prowling #15

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