It’s tempting to upgrade your flight with sightseeing of a city using your multi – stop ticket roaming central Asia countries or so called “stans” along the Silk Road. I flew with the most advanced local air company in the region – AirAstana. It was a multistop ticket from Urumqi (China) to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and finally Istanbul (Turkey) with two stopovers in Almata.
I was intrigued by an advertisement on their web – site stating that they do their best to facilitate your connection stay in case you have stopover in their old capital Almata or the new one –Astana (already proclaimed itself as “Dubai of the steppes”). The most important thing was that can work out a transit visa for limited time in case of a long stopover.
I was suspicious could I do it as I didn’t see the name of my home country – Bulgaria in the advertising list. Bulgaria is a small country and doesn’t generate a considerable business or tourist to this part of the world so I didn’t pay attention too much.
But I didn’t call them or send a simple letter by e-mail. I didn’t take the risk to apply for visa on arrival just relying on my AirAstana multi-stop ticket and blurry advertisement in internet so I went to their consulate to apply for a regular tourist visa. It’s an easy process and filling the visa application form should not be a problem. You need to pay 40 euro for visa but you shouldn’t pay it before the consular officer to be able to check your documents for mistakes, corrections and in general to ask you about the purpose for your visit there (a short visa interview may take part).
So I secured my stay in Almati just for the long stopover. It was possible to spend few hours in Almata on my shorter stopover so I decided not to give up and to persist solely as a holder of a multi – stop ticket with Kazakhstan national carrier AirAstana when I arrive at the Almata airport.
OK - It’s not for working for travelers with Bulgarian passports, I was not eligible for this program. Other nations should check their opportunity and chances and I advise them to contact AirAstana in advance.
What embarrassed me on my arrival is that the only people you can deal are the immigration officers, not staff from AirAstana. I asked immigration officers can I go outside and after short consultations they said I need a visa as a Bulgarian citizen. This is according their instructions, I could blame on them for the law in force so I passed into the transit area.
I still wonder can I play against the odds in case a staff from AirAstana was present there. I know it’s an immigration area but people from AirAstana should be on site or to set up a customer desk to facilitate their clients. I should obey the immigration rules in any case even as a holder of AirAstana multistop ticket whether I am eligible or not for transit visa. But an experienced person from their side can be a very useful one in case of questions of their customers.
Anyway I had my visa for the second attempt and everything went fine – I was admitted in Kazakhstan, spent one full day in Almata and nearby Medeu winter sports centre and Chimbulak mountain resort area with surrounding sheer peak above 4000 meters. It was a good stopover on my return flight from Tashkent to Istanbul on my second and fully secured attempt to get maximum of my stopovers on this excursions in Central Asia.
Tashkent International Airport
Almaty International Airport
Missed connecting flight
Recommend this airline for connecting flights