Well what a palaver that was as we try and exit Tajikistan through their main airport in Dushanbe
We arrive and yes there are 22 of us and it is quite early in the morning so we are expected to create a little bit of fuss at the best of times.
Well this time it is almost farcical. As usual before you get into any of these airports you have your bags scanned and you have to be a little assertive to keep a place in what could laughingly be called a queue it is more of a horde or scrum. Anyway we eventually get everyone through and are beside an area roped off on the other side of which is our check-in desk which is not yet open (I said it was early)
Our guide is attempting to get the guard to allow us to to line up at the desk rather than hang around creating a jam in the main doorway. I should have said it is not a big place I mean really quite small so the 22 of us plus luggage is creating a lot of tension anyway. The guard is not impressed with our guide until he quietly asks if we are “diplomats ?” our guide says nothing but just smiles and stares at the guard who then moves one of the ropes and lets all of us through and we duly line up at the check-in desk waiting for it to open.
Now as to the layout there are 6 desks 1,2,3,4,5,6 ok so far good we are at desk 3 which shows the flight to Almaty fine you might think however the guard is now trying to be helpful and suggests we line up at number 2 as well.
Ok not a problem so we are now split but it is ok.
After a while the desk clerks arrive and open up 3 and 4 so everyone lined up at 2 have to shuffle round to number 4 still with me so now we are at 3 & 4 our guide hands over all the details and passports so they can check our visas and generally stare at the pages.
One of the clerks then announces that we are not booked on the flight and we need to leave. There is a lot of excited discussions with our guide who is adamant we are booked and confirmed although they still insist that we do not appear on their manifesto. It takes almost 15 minutes before they realize they are looking at the list for the afternoon flight not the morning one and low and behold there we all are on their list.
Ok so now can we check in, well not really they now decide that they do not want to use desk 3 and we have to move to desk 5 so everyone in the line shuffles round.
as the desks are technically open they are letting other people into the queues and there is a small woman with some huge cartons leaning into me every minute of two as if that will somehow speed up the process (I am the last in our group). The lady is continually clipping my heels until I put my case strategically in between us.
Now as the last one in the group to reach the desk I think they will have it all off pat and it should be a breeze but after checking my case they suddenly decide they want to weigh my knapsack as well I tell them it is my hand luggage and going on the plane with me but they insist and what do you know the combined weight puts me over the limit they then inform me I am overweight and I need to pay a fine. I am trying to explain that there are 21 others that they have just checked in all with knapsacks none of which were stopped or weighed and I am reticent to pay any excess. They in turn seem adamant I do so a bit of a Mexican standoff ensues. To break the deadlock I suggest that we should bring back all of the previous 21 people and they can all have their knapsacks weighed and they can all pay the excess so I call loudly to the guide to bring everyone back over.
I turn and stare at the girl at the desk who then hands me my boarding pass and tells me to have a nice flight.
We go through another scanner and into the main terminal hall which might hold a couple of hundred people and the next you know we are landing in Almatymand given what we have been through in the last couple of weeks the arrival process customs and luggage collection are very easy.