You will need a biometric passport to travel to Europe

Для поездок в Европу потребуется биометрический паспорт

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia had to respond to the hype raised two weeks ago in social networks and Telegram channels about the mass seizure of foreign passports due to incorrect font.

In particular, the agency responded: “This information (about the mass seizure of passports due to incorrect font. – Note “AN”) does not correspond to reality. There has been no sharp increase in the number of requests from citizens for the replacement of foreign passports in the migration departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.” It seems clear that the traditional answer is in the style of “you’re all lying”, but there are really nuances in the raised HYPE. We’ll figure it out.

Recall that the Network was overclocking information that there was a technical malfunction in the five-year passports issued in 2023-2024, and the numbers in the machine-readable zone were printed in the wrong font. The machine–readable zone is a text on a white background at the bottom of the main page of the passport, which is rolled by a border guard, and yes, there really was a failure. But the case of passport seizure was recorded only once – on February 10, a resident of Yekaterinburg was unable to fly to Dubai, because the gender code was incorrectly entered in the machine-readable line.

And tourists, especially those who had a flight the other day, rushed to check the numbers in addition to personal data – the unit in the correct font should be without underlining, and the “leg” of the seven – without bending. Those who found such units and sevens went to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and quickly and free of charge changed their passports – the Network is already full of such cases. And a sharp increase in such cases or not is a subjective category, as you look at it. For the Ministry of Internal Affairs, this may be an insignificant detail, but for a tourist it is the most important circumstance that can negate hopes for a long–awaited vacation.

But the main thing in this story – and the Interior Ministry, of course, has no answer to this question – is the reaction of the border guards to the wrong font. So far, we recall, they have not been deployed for this, and even if the font is not readable by the system, there are plenty of cases of manual data entry. But for now, “AN-Tourism”, of course, cannot guarantee anything here.

They won’t let you into the EU with a five-year-old

If the problem with the seizure of passports with the wrong font turned out to be fake, then the news from the EU is unequivocal – it will no longer be possible to travel to Europe without a biometric passport from the second half of 2024. The fact is that on October 6 (the date from European media reports, has not yet been officially announced) this year, the EU entry system will start working/Entry/Exit System (EES), and this new system requires the mandatory presence of a biometric passport (ten years old in the Russian Federation). 29 countries belonging to the Schengen area will participate in this project, including Bulgaria and Romania, which will partially join it from March 31. The exceptions are Cyprus and Ireland.

In addition, the passage through the border will be two-stage. First, an automatic EES checkpoint, then a conversation with the border guard, who makes the final decision on entry. At the first entry into the Schengen area, the traveler will need to take a photo and scan his fingerprints at the EES point.

Who didn’t fly where

Ural Airlines, which tried to fly to Baku (see AN No. 6-7), is forced to admit that the program is postponed until March. Initially, the start of flights along the route was planned for February 8, then for February 17, and now for March. But since Azerbaijan has not yet issued the necessary permits, we still do not recommend buying tickets.

Another serious failure occurred last week at the Red Wings airline. Due to the failure of the “cleaned” aircraft, it was necessary to seriously re-arrange flights to Phuket from Moscow (Zhukovsky airport), Kazan and Yekaterinburg. The flights were delayed for at least 12 hours each.

A new series?

Almost all last year, we talked about how the Turkish partners launched, launched, and never launched the Trabzon – Sochi ferry. At the same time, the management of the Sochi seaport stated that it was fully ready to receive the ferry, all the necessary infrastructure had been created. Apparently, desperate to wait for partners, Yuri Vladimirov, General Director of the Sochi seaport, said that the company’s management was ready to purchase the vessel at its own expense: “We see and understand the need for this. The ferry will be passenger for tourists on their own personal vehicles, but small – up to 300 people maximum, about 60-80 cars.” The ferry should be provided with a comfortable infrastructure with comfortable cabins and bars. They promise to make the cost of tickets quite affordable. AN-Tourism strongly welcomes the expansion of options for delivering tourists to Turkey, especially budget ones, this is relevant against the background of news that the Russian tourist flow to Turkey in January this year decreased by 17.6% compared to January last year. And the tourist flow to Antalya resorts fell even more – by 20%. The decrease is explained by rising prices in Turkey and the expansion of the list of winter vacation destinations available to Russians.

Have a rest in March

One of the domestic travel planning services analyzed the cost of a night in three-star hotels and told where you can relax cheaper in early spring than in the last winter month. In Russia, housing prices in Karelia have fallen the most seriously: in March, compared with February, you can save up to 50% and book a room in a three-star hotel for 3 thousand rubles per day. Hotels in Esto-Sadka (-35%, about 4,500 rubles) and Zelenogradsk (-27%, about 2,400 rubles) also fell significantly in price.

Of the foreign destinations, the largest price decrease in March compared to February is shown by Unawatuna: in this city in Sri Lanka, you can book a hotel 62% cheaper, for about 2,300 rubles per day. Almost the same amount, or 60%, will be saved on housing on the Thai island of Phangan – the room will cost 1800 rubles. Sanya took the third place: you can relax in a hotel in a Chinese resort for 44% cheaper, for 3,900 rubles per day.

Analysts of Vestnik ATOR have found out where in Russia it is relatively inexpensive to relax in good hotels (at least four stars) on March 8. ATOR is, as you know, an organization of tour operators (TO), which is why ATOR analysts monitored the TO booking system. It is possible to meet the 25 thousand rubles for two people with a flight from Moscow for a festive weekend only in St. Petersburg. Next comes Kazan – 36 thousand rubles. Tour operators ask about 45 thousand rubles for a vacation in Kaliningrad. On the resorts of Kavminvod on March 8, you need to lay at least 48 thousand rubles. Holidays in Tyumen are available on average for 50-60 thousand rubles, and closes the rating of traditional vacation spots on March 8 in Sochi with a budget of 63 thousand rubles.

Their morals

The Phuket administration has duplicated a warning about fines and deportation for begging issued by the government of the country in connection with regular complaints about foreign “backpackers” (from the word backpack – “backpack”, i.e. a fundamentally budget trip – hitchhiking, free lodging and meals) in Pattaya, begging in tourist locations. In both Pattaya and Phuket, foreigners engaged in begging are already causing undisguised irritation among the local population. As the government recalled, the punishment for unauthorized collection of donations is punishable by either one year in prison, or 10 thousand baht fine, or deportation. Usually, imprisonment is not applied – the Thai authorities limit themselves to fines and deportation.

In the “Russian” (the owners are citizens of the Russian Federation) restaurant in Phuket, a demonstration raid was carried out: a dozen banned hookahs and tobacco were seized. There were no complaints about the visitors. By the way, we remind you that e-cigarettes and vapes are also considered contraband in Thailand.

There, in the Kingdom of Thailand, they changed their mind about lifting the ban on the daily sale of alcohol. The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom did not approve this relief, citing public health and safety considerations. Tourists will still not be able to officially buy alcohol from 14:00 to 17:00.

Messages are being published on social networks in the EU, the creators of which advertise the sale of suitcases allegedly forgotten or lost at Frankfurt airport. The sale is “for pennies”: only 2 euros per suitcase, along with its contents, which are unknown. In the attached photos, signs with the inscription “Lost luggage: 2 euros” are attached to the luggage trolley with the help of Photoshop. Fraudsters often place Lufthansa or Fraport logos on such signs to attract attention. If a user clicks on a post and wants to buy a “lost one”, he is transferred to the site, where he has to pay 2 euros and wait for delivery. It is clear that no one will bring anything anywhere, but there are those who want to get a freebie.

The Turkish Institute for Human Rights and Equality (TIHEK) fined a hotel in Alanya for 85 thousand rubles. lira (250 thousand rubles) for refusing to put two men in the room. The fact is that according to the laws of the country, gender discrimination is punishable, but many resort hotels prefer not to accommodate such couples. But this time the guests got caught principled and complained to TIHEK for canceling the reservation.

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