10.03.2015 - 17.03.2015
"You need to have a return ticket already purchased at the time you are boarding a flight to Mexico, from the U.S." True or False?
As we handed our boarding passes to the agent, he asked, "When is your return flight?" We answered, "We have not booked the return yet. We plan to be in Mexico for about a week as we are buying a property, but do not know exactly what day we will fly back." He pulled us aside and proceeded to explain how in his ten years with the airline, you cannot fly to Mexico without a return flight, the airline can get fined, and he could lose his job. He gave an example of how he was detained going to Australia without an exit ticket. (Really?) So George tells the guy we have done this before, and that that may be his experience involving another country, but not ours when going to Mexico. So, the other Jet Blue agent starts paging for a manager to come talk to us, while everyone else continued boarding.
Finally an authority figure shows up and asks, "Where are they flying?.... Cancun?.... That's fine you don't need a return ticket for Mexico." He apologized and said he'd send an email so the staff would know all this. Great, but we were still pissed about this unnecessary and stressful delay. We did make the flight, but do not plan to use Jet Blue again anytime soon.
This scenario is one of the main things that can make travel difficult. Not all countries treat visitors in the same way. Some are easy-going, others more strict about showing that you are returning or moving on. It takes quite a bit of research to understand how long you can stay somewhere and what are their entry and exit requirements. You would expect the people who work for airlines to know the differences but the truth is that many of them do not....
So a visit to our American consulate might be a good idea. It turns out that the consulate did not have the information we needed, nor do they roll out any red carpet to a U.S. citizen in a foreign country. So we went to the Dept. of Immigration office where we got our answer.
According to a supervisor, the official rule is that American's CAN purchase a one-way ticket into Mexico. You are usually given a 180-day Tourist Visa (important document-keep it safe), and you can schedule your flight out of Mexico during your stay.