144 TWOV China- AA Issues/Questions

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AA Ground Staff May Deny Boarding for China Transit Without Visa Issues

This thread is ONLY for discussion of American Airlines' ground staff dealing with Chinese TWOV issues.
For further information, see:

FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Asia > China Forum

China Visa / Visas Master Thread (all you need to know)

and / or

China 24, 72, and 144 hour Transit Without Visa ("TWOV") rules master thread

The issue: though Chinese immigration authorities seem disposed to allow transit without visa for passengers going on to flights with connections in non-China, non-origin destinations, e.g. LAX-PVG <permitted TWOV> PVG-NRT-LAX, AA ground staff have denied boarding to passengers for the XXX-China leg.

Even if such a passenger were to secure alternate arrangements or reimbursement, there is still sure to be considerable inconvenience. Until AA informs ground staff such travel complies with China TWOV rules, purchasing such an itinerary currently entails some degree of risk, as evidenced in the following thread.

AA generally uses IATA Timatic to verify boarding eligibility. Link to Timatic Web provided courtesy of United Airlines; this form provides information on entry requirements, not departure policies as might be administered by any airline.



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Old Apr 8, 18, 8:18 pm
  #706  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
Certainly, most people don't have issues with getting tourist visas but some do -- and that's in addition to issues regarding TWOV interpretation.
TWOV's language is unambiguous. I actually believe that the fake ticket thing would probably be okay as long as the OP had a compliant departure. That having been said, I wouldn't dream of offering such advice here; it's much better to get tossed around by AA agents than PRC border control!
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Old Apr 8, 18, 9:21 pm
  #707  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
And ... all of this seems like a lot of machinations to avoid a $140 fee for a visa allowing multiple entries over 10 years. It's not as if this is a huge fee or a complicatged process.

Think of it as travel insurance. No need to argue with gate agents over interpretations of Timatic which has occurred on several European and US airlines. Plus, it gives time to work through any complications for travel into China since not every law abiding US citizen will be granted a Chinese visa. Better to know that now rather than when standing in line at PVG immigration.

And, I'll add that I'm old enough to have enjoyed sneaking across the French border without a visa during the years it was required. Then I realized, just pay the money and get the stamp and not worry about getting kicked out of a country.
But, it is a bit different than sneaking across a border you were supposed to have a visa for.
In this case, people should not have to pay for a visa and go through the process of getting a visa, simply because a few AA agents are not understanding the rules of TWOV in China.
If they are leaving China, whether it be by plane or cruise ship, and meet the qualifications DEFINED BY CHINA., they should not have to get a VISA for AA's screwups

Last edited by mvoight; Apr 9, 18 at 9:54 am Reason: spelling
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Old Apr 8, 18, 9:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Stockjock View Post
Point taken, but it's not exactly just $140. Considering Visa agent fees along with the fact that there are 2 of us, probably closer to $450. If we truly don't need to pay that, I'm inclined to investigate traveling without a Visa. Not saying I won't get one, but I hate spending money and wasting time needlessly.

Consider that you may want to visit China again. It's a big country, lot's to see. Airfare to PRC is cheap. The visa will be good for ten years. Seems like you're putting yourself through a lot of turmoil. As the man said, consider it insurance. Insurance that you can actually get a return on.
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Old Apr 9, 18, 6:08 am
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Old Sep 13, 18, 10:00 pm
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Just wanted to relay that AA refusal to recognize China's 144-hour visa-free transit policy remains a problem and, in my instance, AA would not take full responsibility.

I had an itinerary of BWI-ORD-PVG-NRT-ORD-BWI with a 4-day break in PVG. Very similar to one listed above. I had not seen this post before, but had used the 144-hour policy before (actually when it was 72-hour) Agent at BWI got on phone with some international AA desk. Spent about 40 minutes on phone. She spoke to four people. First three said wasn't allowed because NRT was a connecting point and not a stopover. I patiently showed the Chinese immigration explainer and noted that the Timatic entry says the only disqualifier on the routing is if you fly "direct" from US and back to US. Final person on phone acknowledged routing/itin was allowed but said you need "a letter from the embassy." Of course, this is not a government requirement this is something AA is making up.

Anyway I rebooked on DL flights leaving five hours later. DL ticket actually cheaper. DL didn't give me much trouble. Gate agent at DTW-PVG seemed very familiar with the issue. Couple years back back boarding agent at ORD-PVG for UA also understood how it works.

No trouble at Shanghai immigration either. There's a line for 144-hour all the way to right. Had to wait for about 25 minutes to get to front. Guy looked at my itin for about 15 seconds. Jotted some things down. Got a sticker in passport in about 90 seconds. They do not care whether your onward flight connects to another flight. Jeez, it doesn't even have to be a flight. It can be a cruise or a train. I mean how would they know what you will do? They look to see if the flight you're scheduled to go out on is going to a different country/region (HK/Macau/Taipei included) from the one you flew in from and whether it leaves within six days that follow the day of your arrival. That's it.

Anyway, I emailed AA, referenced the discussion above and the rules, and AA sent me a boiler-plate response saying I didn't meet the requirements and it's my fault. I won't bore you. They did agree to waive the change fee, so that's something. I could dispute it through Amex maybe but since I have the credit perhaps not worth it. I do feel they refused carriage with no legitimate reason so legally they are on the hook as others said above.

So, a thumbs down to AA for not fixing this issue/problem since earlier poster had it more than a year ago. I agree with advice above that for most US citizens, may as well get a multiple entry visa and save yourself the hassle. Or try an airline other than AA. Or try flying from the city where the China flight departs, because you may get more experienced agents.
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Old Sep 13, 18, 10:14 pm
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This is why I am getting my 10-year China Visa tomorrow here in NYC for my trip next month. I 100% fulfill the 144-hour TWOV but don't want the potential hassle involved with the gate agents. Particularly since BR switched staff agencies and things seems to be more apt to go south.

Originally Posted by TVStar View Post
Just wanted to relay that AA refusal to recognize China's 144-hour visa-free transit policy remains a problem and, in my instance, AA would not take full responsibility.

I had an itinerary of BWI-ORD-PVG-NRT-ORD-BWI with a 4-day break in PVG. Very similar to one listed above. I had not seen this post before, but had used the 144-hour policy before (actually when it was 72-hour) Agent at BWI got on phone with some international AA desk. Spent about 40 minutes on phone. She spoke to four people. First three said wasn't allowed because NRT was a connecting point and not a stopover. I patiently showed the Chinese immigration explainer and noted that the Timatic entry says the only disqualifier on the routing is if you fly "direct" from US and back to US. Final person on phone acknowledged routing/itin was allowed but said you need "a letter from the embassy." Of course, this is not a government requirement this is something AA is making up.

Anyway I rebooked on DL flights leaving five hours later. DL ticket actually cheaper. DL didn't give me much trouble. Gate agent at DTW-PVG seemed very familiar with the issue. Couple years back back boarding agent at ORD-PVG for UA also understood how it works.

No trouble at Shanghai immigration either. There's a line for 144-hour all the way to right. Had to wait for about 25 minutes to get to front. Guy looked at my itin for about 15 seconds. Jotted some things down. Got a sticker in passport in about 90 seconds. They do not care whether your onward flight connects to another flight. Jeez, it doesn't even have to be a flight. It can be a cruise or a train. I mean how would they know what you will do? They look to see if the flight you're scheduled to go out on is going to a different country/region (HK/Macau/Taipei included) from the one you flew in from and whether it leaves within six days that follow the day of your arrival. That's it.

Anyway, I emailed AA, referenced the discussion above and the rules, and AA sent me a boiler-plate response saying I didn't meet the requirements and it's my fault. I won't bore you. They did agree to waive the change fee, so that's something. I could dispute it through Amex maybe but since I have the credit perhaps not worth it. I do feel they refused carriage with no legitimate reason so legally they are on the hook as others said above.

So, a thumbs down to AA for not fixing this issue/problem since earlier poster had it more than a year ago. I agree with advice above that for most US citizens, may as well get a multiple entry visa and save yourself the hassle. Or try an airline other than AA. Or try flying from the city where the China flight departs, because you may get more experienced agents.
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Old Sep 14, 18, 12:25 am
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Suspect the biggest issue will be in AA outstations. Ideally I'd be looking to recheckin or start journey in LAX or ORD where at least the checkin staff for these flights should be more knowledgable.

I've recently done a SYD-PVG (6 days - 140 actual hours, 133 as calculated), HGH-(4hrs)-HKG on QF/CX/QF.
So absolutely qualified as a transit on a SYD-HKG fare with Shanghai stopover, using two different airports in the Shanghai region (PVG and HGH-Hangzhou)

QF telephone staff refused to provide any prior advice despite being pressed, and obviously the local consulate wants to sell you a visa.
But at checkin, armed with TIMATIC printout and highlighted portions marked, no issue, although did check with supervisor.

At PVG, despite a 70min queue (only 3-staff and one supervisor dealing with 24/144 Transits) no issue. Sighted itinerary. Confirmed I was staying within the Shanghai area, quick remark not to miss my flight as I was near the limit, and on my way.

Of note, the PVG immigration desk had a list from Qantas listing, Name, Passport Number and I believe onward destination -- so I absolutely wouldn't be booking a 'cancellable ticket' for the cruise - the cruise ports are stated in TIMATIC and as long as you have airline ticket and cruise ticket I can't see an issue
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Old Sep 14, 18, 1:18 am
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China simply should ban American Airlines from flying to China for several months, only accepting them ever again if they learn how international travel works. And slap a massive fine on them, of course.

For you, get a lawyer and sue those idiots..
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Old Sep 14, 18, 2:05 am
  #714  
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Originally Posted by moa999 View Post

QF telephone staff refused to provide any prior advice despite being pressed...
We hear this many times and unfortunately I can't think of an instance where calling reservations for advance advice about an advance visa waiver is beneficial (vs the time and frustration). Even if reservations manages to find the correct information, even if they annotate your booking, it should have no effect at check-in. Visa rules can change by the day and any check-in agent has to do the whole process of verification from scratch in order to determine your eligibility to travel at that immediate time.

As for the OP's issue, this is clearly an AA error, which they have admitted before. Shame they persist. For US passport holders the solution may be a 10 year visa, but for the majority of other nationals, this is not an option. Nor is it a particularly good option for travellers looking to visit China as a once-off.
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Old Sep 14, 18, 7:43 am
  #715  
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Originally Posted by moa999 View Post
Suspect the biggest issue will be in AA outstations. Ideally I'd be looking to recheckin or start journey in LAX or ORD where at least the checkin staff for these flights should be more knowledgable.
...
Don't be fooled. I did a trip starting in PIT/MIA/ORD/PVG and everything went fine until ORD where they stopped me and insisted I needed a visa. Copies of Embassy pages and calls to DFW kept coming back saying no travel without a visa. Then someone at DFW called back saying he wasn't sure but would allow travel if I agreed to pay any fines and the return ticket! Didn't get a second look when clearing immigration but was not fun sitting on that flight wondering what will happen upon landing. Tried to find the GA in ORD upon return but did tell the story to a supervisor and the still have rouge GAs trying to shut you down. I'm not sure they want to learn how to do it right.
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Old Sep 14, 18, 1:46 pm
  #716  
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Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post
For you, get a lawyer and sue those idiots..
Is just due in small claims court for a refund of the fare (and you don’t need a lawyer). I wouldn’t even bother with the credit card dispute rule, I can’t see a bank getting involved in a dispute over interpretation of visa requirements and they’ll probably defer to the airline. SCC will at least get someone’s attention at AA.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 5:13 pm
  #717  
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Originally Posted by RogerD408 View Post
Don't be fooled. I did a trip starting in PIT/MIA/ORD/PVG and everything went fine until ORD where they stopped me and insisted I needed a visa. Copies of Embassy pages and calls to DFW kept coming back saying no travel without a visa. Then someone at DFW called back saying he wasn't sure but would allow travel if I agreed to pay any fines and the return ticket! Didn't get a second look when clearing immigration but was not fun sitting on that flight wondering what will happen upon landing. Tried to find the GA in ORD upon return but did tell the story to a supervisor and the still have rouge GAs trying to shut you down. I'm not sure they want to learn how to do it right.
Embassies and consulates are NOT good resources because: 1. they provide outdated information; and 2. they lack front line experience. It's much better to get familiar with TIMATIC.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 6:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Yoshi212 View Post
This is why I am getting my 10-year China Visa tomorrow here in NYC for my trip next month. I 100% fulfill the 144-hour TWOV but don't want the potential hassle involved with the gate agents. Particularly since BR switched staff agencies and things seems to be more apt to go south.
Originally Posted by moondog View Post
Embassies and consulates are NOT good resources because: 1. they provide outdated information; and 2. they lack front line experience. It's much better to get familiar with TIMATIC.
Drats! Glad I spotted this thread now. Guess I was not expecting such a hassle from the AA than with border patrol.

We're off on a cruise out of PVG in four months. Based on comments here, I best advise my 15 peeps in the group that we best get visas as I've assured them that we qualify to be TWOV since we're arriving pre-cruise by 72 hrs. For the bulk of the group, this will be the only time they will be visiting China since most are retired family and friends. Us "younger mature" adults are fulfilling a bucket list for our parents since it's a family event celebration.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 9:13 pm
  #719  
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Originally Posted by Zacnlinc View Post




Drats! Glad I spotted this thread now. Guess I was not expecting such a hassle from the AA than with border patrol.

We're off on a cruise out of PVG in four months. Based on comments here, I best advise my 15 peeps in the group that we best get visas as I've assured them that we qualify to be TWOV since we're arriving pre-cruise by 72 hrs. For the bulk of the group, this will be the only time they will be visiting China since most are retired family and friends. Us "younger mature" adults are fulfilling a bucket list for our parents since it's a family event celebration.
Hang on a second! There may not be a need to go to great expense for visas.

The problem with AA is not TWOV per se, it's the definition of travel 'to a third country'. The two issues mentioned on this thread are because the routing was USA-China-Japan-USA (or similar), where the stop in the third country was only a transit.

Had the stop in Japan been a proper stopover, AA wouldn't have cared.

Of course AA is wrong, there is no difference between a transit and a stopover. As long as the boarding passes into and out of China read country A-B(China)-C they don't care as it satisfies TWOV.

In your case you will be flying into China and departing on a cruise. There is no issues with transit/stopover etc.

If you are in doubt, you could head to your local airport and ask check-in to give you an idea of how they will determine your flights. Perhaps a lot cheaper and less time consuming that applying for visas (unless of course you intend to travel to China again).
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Old Sep 15, 18, 11:34 pm
  #720  
 
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You must have a China visa to fly on American even though you are in transit and won’t require it once you are at China customs. If you don’t have a visa American will not board you.
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