“The passport must not be exposed to water because it might cause the writing on the document to swell or damage the entry or exit stamps in the passport,” he elaborated in the comments.
This came as a surprise to many Malaysian online users, who were not aware of such restrictions. As of Thursday afternoon, Fikry’s video has received 484,800 views, 380 comments and 520 saves.
In his responses to TikTok users, Fikry confirmed that it was not an immigration officer who stopped him, but an airline employee when the couple went to check in their bags.
Though he would be able to make it through Malaysian immigration, the employee was concerned that he would face disruptions and potentially be fined in Turkey.
Some TikTok users shared similar “heartbreaking” accounts of being turned away at airports due to water damage on passports, worrying others who began to question whether their own passports would be accepted.
It would appear that any damage to a passport is potentially invalidating, even excessive wear-and-tear.
This can include any form of tears, missing or detached pages, loose or frayed binding, faded pages from water damage, damage to the radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip and a cracked or detached biodata page.
A user on Quora, a question-and-answer website for people to get general information, gave some reasons for why Fikry had experienced this at the airline check-in counter, stating: “The problem will not arise at some port of entry; it will arise at the airline check-in counter or gate.
“Airlines are responsible for passengers that are refused entry to any country along their itinerary and have to return them to their point of origin at the airline’s expense in most cases.
“Therefore, airline staff are very conservative when it comes to evaluating travel documents. If an airline employee believes that your passport is damaged, they may deny check-in or boarding.”
In his initial TikTok video, Fikry wrote: “It’s my fault regarding the wet passport, I wasn’t alert about this.”
He works as a cleaner in Singapore and frequently shuttles back and forth between the two countries, he explained in the comments section.
The night before his flight, he was caught in heavy rain at Johor Bahru’s Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) when heading back from work.
However, his bag was not waterproof and his passport did not have a cover.
“When I got home, I saw that 80 per cent of the passport was wet,” he told mStar. “At the time, I didn’t think of drying it first because there were things to buy and money to change.
“That night we left and I drove to Sepang (where KLIA is located) at about 1am.”
Fikry only realised the next morning at the airport that the passport had not been dried when their tour guide asked for their passports. Panicking, he rushed to a toilet to dry it with a hand dryer.
Despite his best efforts, it was still “70 to 80 per cent” wet, he wrote.
Though he accepted that he would not be able to board the flight due to potential problems with his damaged passport, he still broke down into tears at the airport because the honeymoon had been planned “from the beginning”, even before the couple’s wedding on November 8.
TikTok users expressed sympathy and concern in the comments, suggesting that he could renew his passport and board a later flight or ask for refunds from the travel agency. However, he responded that he had already considered these possibilities.
As the couple was registered under a tour group, they could not refund or reschedule their flights. New flights would cost 5,000 ringgit (US$1,089) a person. He was also not able to get immediate help for his passport renewal since it was a Sunday.
The couple had considered joining the group at a later date, but were thinking that they would already have missed out on most of the activities. Fikry also encouraged his wife to go ahead first, but she insisted that they “go as a couple for [their] honeymoon”.
The couple told mStar that they had planned a nine-day holiday, which included stops in Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Bursa. The trip was also intended as a birthday celebration for both husband and wife, whose birthdays were on December 22 and 23.
“Moral of my story, passport is everything,” Fikry wrote in a follow-up TikTok video. “Lesson learned.”
By sharing his story on social media, he hoped that it would serve as an important lesson to all other travellers about the importance of making sure one’s passport “is in good condition” and being prepared.
The couple hopes to make their Turkey dream come true in 2024.