Thursday morning we found out our flights to Mongolia were cancelled. We had been increasingly expecting this. So, while it was a disappointment, it was not a surprise.
Later Thursday night I saw a news article on a Mongolian news site saying that Turkish Airlines (the carrier for our flight) had cancelled all of their flights in and out of Mongolia in July. This morning (Friday) I woke to another article that basically said, “nuh-uh.” It claimed that saying all flights were cancelled was a baseless lie and they were working with the government to do the maximum number of flights allowed. But today our travel agent couldn’t find any in the system in July so, it appears, the current maximum number of allowed flights is zero.
We are optimistic that this number will increase at some point.
We immediately began work on Plan B. Which involved exploring the possibility of flying to a country where we know the Mongolian National Airline has flights from in the next week or two. We figured Japan wouldn’t let us in (they’re being kind of cautious with the Olympics coming and, well, just cautious in general) so we explored Germany and South Korea.
Because our United-States-to-foreign-country tickets would be booked separately from our foreign-country-to-Mongolia tickets some interesting challenges come into play. With United-States-to-Mongolia-via-foreign-country tickets (transit tickets), you pass through customs in the airport but never leave the airport and never actually enter the foreign country. Your transit ticket means your luggage goes from your first flight to your second flight automatically
With separate tickets you go through customs and leave the secured area to get your bags then have to renter at the the secured area through a ticket counter, recheck your bags and get on your second flight.
We learned that Germany isn’t allowing Americans through customs right now (something about our high infection rates in the US). It is possible that in South Korea, Cory and I could get through customs fine because we’re vaccinated but our unvaccinated daughter would need a special waiver. We don’t know how long this would take, so buying non-refundable tickets for next week (if seats were even available) seems like a bad idea.
With separate tickets, if your first flight is delayed or cancelled and you miss your second flight, you’re out of luck…the second ticket doesn’t get changed…your second plane leaves without you and your stranded without a refund.
With separate tickets, we would only be allowed two checked bags into foreign-country but only one checked bag on our second flight. We wouldn’t know, until we were at the airport in the foreign-country if the flight onward to Mongolia would have space for us to pay for a second checked bag. Which means we’d have to repack and leave half of our stuff behind. This is not a deal-breaker…but consider if you were to move your life to the other side of the world with a single checked bag when you’d planned on two and you can respect that there would be some challenging emotions involved.
With this information (primarily that Germany wouldn’t let us do it and South Korea might not let our daughter through) Plan B doesn’t look like a good option. So we’re working on Plan C.
Plan C is waiting for the July flight schedule to be published, then praying there is either:
- a flight directly from the US to Mongolia (it’s happened before), or
- transit flights offered that we can book before seats sell out
So we have NO IDEA when in July (but hopefully still in July) we’ll actually head out. And we don’t know much else either.
I am increasingly annoyed that people are able to VACATION on other continents right now and we’re still unable to return home. But we’re learning to “live in the moment,” “control what we can control,” and “appreciate the journey,” etc.
Also we’re learning how to process complex emotions and not to give up hope when hope is deferred and how to be more flexible.
We’re pressed but not crushed.
And we’re tired.