Skip to Content

The Time I Almost Involuntarily Became An Expatriate

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. TRAVELING WELL FOR LESS HAS PARTNERED WITH CARDRATINGS FOR OUR COVERAGE OF CREDIT CARD PRODUCTS. TRAVELING WELL FOR LESS AND CARDRATINGS MAY RECEIVE A COMMISSION FROM CARD ISSUERS. OPINIONS, REVIEWS, ANALYSES & RECOMMENDATIONS ARE THE AUTHOR'S ALONE, AND HAVE NOT BEEN REVIEWED, ENDORSED OR APPROVED BY ANY OF THESE ENTITIES. READ MY DISCLOSURE AND PRIVACY POLICIES.

The Time I Almost Involuntarily Became An Expatriate Traveling Well For Less

Would this be my new home flag?

 

Forty minutes to transit through Nicaragua would be enough time, I thought.

it’s a small airport (there are only 5 gates) and I hadn’t checked bags.  Plus I had booked the services of the VIP Sala Lounge to help aid my transition. What could go wrong?  Potentially more than I thought.

I was doing a same day turn mileage run with a friend. A mileage run is when you fly somewhere to earn miles to keep your elite status with that airline. During the first of the eight segments of our run, we ran into another frequent flyer friend who was doing the same mileage run.

The VIP Sala Lounge is a paid lounge at the Managua Airport that provides VIP level services to arriving and departing passengers. It is the only lounge in the airport. They assist in getting you through customs and immigration and if needed, can get your boarding passes.

The cost is $35 per person.  You can pay in US dollars or a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

I’ll go into a full review of the VIP Sala Lounge in my trip report.  But for now, here’s how I almost became an expatriate.

As we waited in the lounge for immigration to review our documentation, we were approached by a customs and immigration officer. There were three of us, two females and one male. The officer addressed the male of our group and asked,“Do you speak Spanish?”

I took four years of Spanish in high school, but that was when Columbus was sailing the Nina & Pinta, so I’m a little rusty. My other two traveling companions didn’t speak Spanish, so we were at a little disadvantage.

So the customs officer decided to give his English a try.

During this exchange, the three of us were seated in a semicircle, with my female friend to my left, the male friend to my right, and the customs/immigration officer directly in front of me.

Customs Officer: “How long are you here?”

Male friend: “Just for an hour. We just got here.”

Customs Officer: “Why are you here?”

Male friend: “For the miles.”

Customs Officer: “Miles? What is this miles?”

Male friend: “When you fly you get miles. We are getting miles to fly here.”

Customs Officer: “What company are you with?”

Male friend: “We are not with any company.”

Customs Officer: “But how did you get here? Who brought you here?”

Male friend: “We flew on American Airlines.”

Customs Officer: “Oh, you work for American Airlines?”

Male friend: “No. We fly on American Airlines.”

Customs Officer: “So, you work for American Airlines?”

At that point in this Laurel & Hardy episode of “Who’s on First,” we may have been tempted to just say, “Yes, we work for American Airlines.” But you never want to lie to immigration.

Male friend: “No. We fly on American Airlines. We flew here to get miles…on American Airlines.”

Although not satisfied, the immigration officer left, leaving the three of us alone to ponder our fate: would we be allowed back into the US and would we make it on our flight that was leaving in 10 minutes.

After we paid the fees for the VIP services, we were finally cleared to go. We were the last on the plane and they promptly shut the door about 5 minutes after we were seated.

Next time, I’m going to have someone write me a note in Spanish explaining what we are doing.

Comment, tweet, or share this post.

Get the best credit card signup bonuses.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube

Got a question? Or want help, suggestions, travel tips, learn how to travel for free, find out about travel deals, and maximize your miles and points? Use the subscription box below to sign-up and get post updates by email.

Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.


Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for beginning travel hackers. It is the first card you should get to start traveling for free because the welcome offer is 100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5X points on travel when booked through the Chase portal (2X if direct purchase), 3X points on dining , $50 yearly credit on hotels booked through the Chase portal, no foreign transaction fees, and transferring points to 13 airline and hotel partners like Hyatt, United, and Southwest.
 


Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is one of my favorite cards for earning cash back card and travel rewards. It offers a welcome offer of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months.
 
My favorite perks about this card are earning 5% cash back at grocery stores the first 12 months (up to $12k), unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and no annual fee. When paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can use your points to travel for free.
 

← Previous
Sunday Someday: Amsterdam
don't lose out on 2 years of free travel southwest companion pass traveling well for less
Next →
Don't Lose Out On 2 Years Of Free Travel

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.