CONTRIBUTED BY MICHELLE KING
Parking for the Prague Airport
We just finished up our 9 day block leave trip. We planned to fly out of Prague to Dublin, Dublin to Edinburgh and then back to Prague. We know that airport parking can typically be pretty expensive so I researched some “off site” parking areas. I found ParkVia which is a website with a few offsite companies listed. You select your location (they have locations at other airports), and your drop off and pick up date and time. I looked through what each company offered, what their prices were and the reviews, I decided to go with SkyParking. We dropped our car off on the 19th and picked it up on the 27th, that’s 9 days and it cost 480 Kruna (Czech money) which was $25! Only $25 for over a week!!
When you reserve a spot you just need to print out the email they send you and bring it with you the day you drop off your car. When we arrived they immediately showed us where to park and there was a shuttle waiting to take us to the airport. It was very quick and easy. When we arrived back home all we had to do was call them and let them know we landed and needed a ride back to our car. We waited about 15 minutes and they picked us up and took us back to our car. Once you get back you can then pay with card or cash.
The customer service was great and I would recommend this place to anyone. If any of you are concerned about security of your car, this comes directly from their website: “Safety of your car is ensured by security guards on site 24/7, continuous CCTV surveillance, perimeter fence with barbed wire, and infrared monitoring. The car park has both gated and barrier entry, and is fully insured.” I will definitely be using this same company again for other airport locations. Just remember to book in advance to be sure they have an opening and to get the best rate.
Passport Control at the Prague Airport
Parking was out of the way! Now we had to figure out where we could check in with Ryan Air. We were there early and Ryan Air doesn’t open their check in counters until 2 hours before the flight so we just grabbed something to eat. We checked in with no problems and decided to go ahead and go through passport control and security just in case we had any delays and let me tell you, it’s a good thing we did! We get to passport control and my husband goes to one line, gets his passport stamped and goes through. I went through a different line and this guy decided to look through each page of my passport and noticed my last stamp was from over a year ago. I told him I lived in Germany so then he kept asking for my Visa. I said “I don’t have a visa, my husband is in the military and we’re stationed in Germany.” He did not understand because he barley spoke any English. He just kept saying “you’re here illegally.”
Finally the guy that let my husband through realized that we were having a problem and stepped in to help since his English was much better. I told him my husband is in the military and we’re stationed in Germany, I’m pretty sure I said that like 10 times. He finally went to get my husband and asked for his ID and I also showed my military ID. They finally pulled us out of line to the security office to figure out what was going on.
We explained to them that “my husband is in the US Army, I am his wife. He is stationed in Germany and that is why I live there with him.” They asked us for a copy of his orders… uhh who carries orders with them on vacation? We sure don’t. We told them the only thing we had was a leave form from my husbands office. They took that and agreed it was fine to prove that my husband was stationed in Germany but that I needed a leave form for myself. I know I gave them plenty of blank stares. We told them again, “I’m married to him (as I’m pointing) which allows me to live with him in Germany. They kept saying “then you need military orders or a leave form.” I said again “I’m married to him, I’m not in the military so I don’t need a leave form.”
By this point I was getting very frustrated because they just weren’t understanding. I finally showed them my no-fee passport that has the SOFA stamp in it to prove that I’m most definitely here legally. So they took all of our passports, military ID’s and leave form and closed the door on us. We waited and waited and when he came back he still wasn’t happy with that. They finally called someone, we don’t really know who, but we think maybe someone from the US embassy to figure it all out. He finally told us that on that leave form there is a section at the bottom for dependants and my name was NOT in that box. I doubt that would have solved the problem much faster but make sure you have ALL dependants listed on the leave form when traveling.
All of that took about 45 minutes to get resolved. So for future reference always have your tourist and no-fee passport, leave forms filled out 100% AND copies of orders with you when flying. We didn’t have any other problems flying out of Dublin or Edinburgh and I’m sure many, many people have flown out of Germany with no problems but I happened to get stuck with the guy who actually did his job the right way. My husband doesn’t have a stamp in his passport either but his guy didn’t check. So it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If my husband wasn’t with me they probably would not have let me through. I’m not sure how to fix that problem because if I was traveling with a friend and we didn’t have a leave form it could have been a nightmare!
Edits from the author:
I have had a few questions about why all this information is needed and what to do if you’re traveling alone. If you are not related to the military and want to stay in Germany longer than 90 days you have to have a visa. When you are military and arrive in Germany you don’t get a German stamp in your passport. That stamp proves when you got here so officials know when your 90 days is up. Since military can obviously stay longer than 90 days we’re supposed to have a visa. The military version of a visa is the SOFA stamp in your no-fee passport.
The no-fee passport is only for official use, to and from the States. You are technically not supposed to travel with your no-fee BUT you should always have it on you since it is your version of a visa. When I was in Prague they were not understanding that my no-fee passport was my visa and that is why you need a copy of the soldiers orders to prove that you’re stationed in Germany. Make sure those orders have ALL family members on it. I know a lot of families get orders with just the soldier on it and once they’re command sponsored they get a revised version with dependents. Soldiers don’t have a no-fee passport because their CAC card is their version of a visa. If you feel that will cause problems it is possible to get a no-fee passport for the soldier.
I don’t think it’s 100% necessary to have a leave form with you but it definitely wouldn’t hurt. Another problem many wives could come across is having 2 passports with different names, maiden and married. If this is the case then you should also travel with a copy of your marriage license. I know this seems so silly and a little annoying to have to remember all this but all these papers will help clear up any problems you may encounter. When traveling alone or without the soldier you definitely need to have a copy of the soldiers orders. A marriage license in this case would probably be helpful too to prove that you’re married to the name on the orders. Just be prepared and patient with those in other countries who may not understand.
The reason I didn’t show my no-fee passport right away is because my travel passport is in my maiden name and my no-fee in my married name. I didn’t want to make the situation worse/more confusing so I held out as long as I could before having to explain that. I thought once I showed that they’d have all kinds of problems with me having 2 passports with different names but they didn’t care at all about the name difference.
Note: Michelle originally posted this article on her site, but has graciously shared it with us here as well.