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WARNING: Carefully check Your Turkmen Letter of Invitation's

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:35 pm
by seysearles
I thought that I would post this in here just a head's up to everyone out there applying for Turkmen visas and specifically transit visas.

We encountered a problem that nearly derailed our entire Central Asian adventure when trying to board our flights to Ashgabat about a month ago. After spending months arranging our transit visas through the Abu Dhabi embassy we showed up at the Dubai airport to board our Fly Dubai flight to Ashgabat and presented the check in girl with our LOI's upon request. After inspecting both of them she bluntly said to my girlfriend "passport number is wrong we can't let you on board". When we looked at the letter we saw that the number was correct but they had added an 'f' at the end of it for some unknown reason. When we checked the passport we noticed that the number (with a 9) was included in some random "code" underneath the primary details however it was not the actual passport number as listed in the details. I tried to bargain with the girl briefly but she was very curt and unwilling to even hear my pleas and eventually just walked off saying "not possible". The gates were closing in 30 minutes and the tickets were non refundable so I decided to take matters into my own hands and took off to a nearby stationary shop which had a photocopy machine in it and proceeded to scratch out the 'f' from the LOI and photocopy it. It looked pretty amateur and you could see flecks around where i had scratched out the letter but by this point I was literally down to the last 2 minutes before the check-in closed so I ran back to the counter to try my luck. Thankfully the original girl was no longer there and, the new guy - after again inspecting the details (very carefully I should note) and even saying "this copy is very bad and it's hard to read, do you have a better one?" - eventually checked us on.

The entire flight to Ashgabat we were petrified that (at best) we would be sent back on the next flight to Dubai or (at worst) would end up in a Turkmen prison. When we arrived we showed the guy at the visa counter a digital copy of the original LOI (with the "wrong" number on it) as we didn't want to be accused of doctoring a document. He either didn't pick it up or didn't care because he processed payment and sent us through to the immigration counter. The guy at the immigration counter took a long time in stamping us and twice called over his superior to ask him something (in Turkmen so I have no idea what it was) but eventually they stamped both of us in.

It was a pretty hairy experience and I think I could easily have just thrown my hands in the air and not got on the flight which would have been a huge shame (not to mention a big waste of time and money). So my advice is to everyone out there is, check your LOI's/visas carefully when you receive them because the airlines have clearly been given instruction to not let anyone on board flights to Turkmenistan where the documents are not 100% in order.

It's pretty easy to miss something like that also so review them very carefully.

I hope that helps someone out there.


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