How being proactive can save you when you need to be reactive

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 22nd October 2019

I recently avoided a potentially calamitous situation because I choose to operate in a proactive way. 

I’m checking in at Sydney International Airport for a long-haul flight to the US, and the check-in agent advises me that there is no visa attached to my passport.  That can’t be right I’m thinking.  While packing the day before I checked both my passport and the visa, and both were most certainly current.  In fact, my passport was new, and the visa still had about a year to go. 

What the check-in agent said next filled me with dread. “You need a visa linked to your new passport sir.  It’s not showing up in the system.”  With those words, I began to feel the cold dreadful stirrings of panic creeping up my legs.  It dawned on me that the visa I had was attached to my old passport, not this new one.   

So here I am at the airport, heading half-way around the world to work with a new client, and I don’t have a valid visa. 

Fortunately, this is a very common mistake travellers make, and my checkin agent was able to offer a potential solution.  “There is a Flight Centre office by check-in zone G.  They should be able to apply online for you.” 

So, with my heart in my mouth, off I went.  I explained my predicament to a lovely young man called Dan.  He said that while visas can take up to 72 hours, today they had been coming through in about 30 minutes. I asked him how he was so sure about this, and he told me I was the seventh person today so far with the same problem!   

What Dan said next made me feel SO HAPPY about my proactive ways. He said, “Luckily you’ve arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.  Many people arrive so last minute that there is absolutely nothing we can do.”  

The thing is, it wasn’t luck.  Instead of sailing as close to the wind as possible, I packed the day before.  I made sure my calendar was clear on the day.  And I booked a taxi which I knew would get me to the airport three hours prior, as recommended by the airline.   

So, being proactive saved my bacon.  Thirty minutes later, I had my visa and off I went.  Being proactive meant that when I found myself in a highly urgent situation, disaster was avoided.  That pre-departure champers has never tasted so good!   Who knows how large the fallout would have been if I hadn’t made my flight?  I hate to think. 

So, how often do you sail as close to the wind as you possibly can?  And not just at airport on a travel day, but what about in the office? 



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