DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I used to be touring with a buddy to a marriage in Asia in 2018 and determined to make a stopover in Beijing after studying concerning the new 144-hour visa-free coverage. I contacted the Chinese language consulate in Chicago, and it confirmed the rule and mentioned that we may journey to Beijing with one airline and have the onward ticket with one other one so long as it was to a location exterior of China.
On the day of our journey, I confirmed up on the airport, and American Airways didn’t permit me to board the aircraft. No person on the Minneapolis airport knew of any visa-free coverage for Beijing or wherever in China.
I ended up having to purchase one-way tickets to Los Angeles on Delta after which one-way tickets to Beijing on Air China. Air China allowed me to board with none issues. I used to be capable of go to Beijing with none difficulties and no earlier visa.
After I returned to the U.S., I contacted American to request reimbursement for my tickets, which value $4,007. Sadly, American wouldn’t even deal with our request. It simply despatched generic responses that have been infuriating. I’ve not given up. Airways have an obligation to be up-to-date on visa necessities. I don’t need different individuals to fall sufferer to American Airways’ ignorance. Are you able to assist?
— Rodolfo Soca, Washington, D.C.
ANSWER: I’m sorry you needed to rebook your flights to China and that you simply needed to wait virtually two years to get a decision on this case. However I promise we’ll have a decision by the tip of this story.
The ultimate authority for visa guidelines is Timatic, a visa database revealed by the Worldwide Air Transport Affiliation (www.iatatravelcentre.com/passport-visa-health-travel-document-requirements.htm). It seems, nevertheless, that American had its personal inner insurance policies that conflicted with the visa guidelines. This occurs every so often. I recall a case the place American denied a passenger boarding as a result of she didn’t have sufficient time left earlier than her passport expired. She was authorized to enter the nation, however American nonetheless wouldn’t let her board.
For those who ever have a query concerning the validity of your visa, it’s vital to verify Timatic and learn how the airline will interpret the Timatic data. American occurs to take a extra conservative method in relation to visa and passport guidelines. I truly assist that — higher to be secure than sorry — however the secret’s speaking these insurance policies to your passengers. American didn’t try this.
You probably did an excellent job of contacting American by electronic mail and arguing your case. It seems as if the airline wasn’t swayed by your arguments. You possibly can even have reached out to an govt at American Airways. I publish their names, numbers and electronic mail addresses on my client advocacy web site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/.
I contacted American in your behalf. It reimbursed you to your new tickets.