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 Sep 17, 18, 10:54 am
  #736  
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Originally Posted by mvoight View Post
The real issue is the AA Agents receiving proper instructions on how to correctly use TIMATIC - If the next stop after China is a different country (or even HKG), and the stay in mainland China is within the time limits, the TWOV should work. AA Agents are the ones which seem to have trouble understanding this, not the Chinese immigration people at the airport. That said, I have a cruise on Carnival, and even though my wife doesn't need a visa to visit Cuba , we are prepared to get it from the cruise line when we check in this week.
Ultimately, TIMATIC is an IATA publication / database. If the problem is that agents are confusing connections at NRT with IATA's ticketing definitions, e.g. <24 hours and China's view that anywhere is good, IATA as an industry trade organization would do well to insert clear explannatory language.

Passengers who do not require a visa ought not to have to worry that they might nonetheless be better off obtaining a costly and sometimes time-consuming document (unlike the Cuba example which is neither costly nor time-consuming to obtain).
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Old Sep 17, 18, 12:26 pm
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I will be checking in at LAX for a flight to PEK. And then have a separate ticket on OZ PEK-ICN with about 4 hours in PEK. Does anyone have a good experience with AA agents checking bags all the way through on a non partner separate ticket? Would definitely save a lot of time going through immigration, baggage claim, and recheck in with another airline.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Ultimately, TIMATIC is an IATA publication / database. If the problem is that agents are confusing connections at NRT with IATA's ticketing definitions, e.g. <24 hours and China's view that anywhere is good, IATA as an industry trade organization would do well to insert clear explannatory language.
Well ... China certainly has representatives in IATA ... and if they wanted clearer language, they would give it IATA.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 1:24 pm
  #739  
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
Well ... China certainly has representatives in IATA ... and if they wanted clearer language, they would give it IATA.
What the Chinese think of the language.. China is the one country where its agents are not burdened with a divergent view of what a third country means in the context of a ticket.

Rather, it is numerous other countries, including the US, where local airline representatives read the terms differently. Specifically, they see the return segments of CHINA-JAPAN-US as returning to the country of origin, e.g., the US, not a transit to a third country, e.g. JAPAN because the stop in JAPAN is ticketed as a connection, not a stopover. That is correct as an IATA ticketing convention, but immaterial to the Chinese view of what transit to a third country means.

The pressure to make the language crystal clear must come from carrier representatives in countries other than China which have service to China which is TWOV-eligible.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by rollthere View Post
I will be checking in at LAX for a flight to PEK. And then have a separate ticket on OZ PEK-ICN with about 4 hours in PEK. Does anyone have a good experience with AA agents checking bags all the way through on a non partner separate ticket? Would definitely save a lot of time going through immigration, baggage claim, and recheck in with another airline.
AA will not check your bags through on a separate ticket with another airline.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 4:10 pm
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
Well ... China certainly has representatives in IATA ... and if they wanted clearer language, they would give it IATA.
I do believe the TIMATIC site is concise. The problem, from my view, is the AA GAs not willing to read any further than they have to before saying no. I may have a biased view, but I don't see why AA can't devise a decision tree process that asks specific questions to walk the GAs through this. They only fly to certain airports, I think they all allow TWOV travel. Checking travel continues to other countries should be simple enough. I think all these issues need to be escalated to Dallas so they get a feel for the volume of issues. Maybe they will learn particular stations need more training or staff replacement.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 4:15 pm
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Originally Posted by RogerD408 View Post
I do believe the TIMATIC site is concise. The problem, from my view, is the AA GAs not willing to read any further than they have to before saying no. I may have a biased view, but I don't see why AA can't devise a decision tree process that asks specific questions to walk the GAs through this. They only fly to certain airports, I think they all allow TWOV travel. Checking travel continues to other countries should be simple enough. I think all these issues need to be escalated to Dallas so they get a feel for the volume of issues. Maybe they will learn particular stations need more training or staff replacement.
The problem arises from carrier training for staff, whether it's AA, DL, or frankly a number of the non-Chinese Asian carriers whereby they view a ticket such as LAX-PEK-NRT-LAX, where NRT is a connection, not a stopover, as travel from the US to China and back to the US, while Chinese immigration authorities view that same itinerary as travel from the US to China and onwards to Japan (and then could care less what happens from Japan, if anything).

The former is the correct way to look at a ticket as an IATA ticketing matter, while the latter is the correct way to look at document requirements for entering China at PEK.

The language in TIMATIC needs to be express on this point. The proof of the pudding is that agents from unrelated carriers in unrelated locations are making the same error.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 6:45 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The problem arises from carrier training for staff, whether it's AA, DL, or frankly a number of the non-Chinese Asian carriers whereby they view a ticket such as LAX-PEK-NRT-LAX, where NRT is a connection, not a stopover, as travel from the US to China and back to the US, while Chinese immigration authorities view that same itinerary as travel from the US to China and onwards to Japan (and then could care less what happens from Japan, if anything).

The former is the correct way to look at a ticket as an IATA ticketing matter, while the latter is the correct way to look at document requirements for entering China at PEK.

The language in TIMATIC needs to be express on this point. The proof of the pudding is that agents from unrelated carriers in unrelated locations are making the same error.
TIMATIC's language is not hard for (even semi) educated people to comprehend.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 6:55 pm
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Based on definitions in timatic, which is an indusrty tool, it seems quite reasonable for the airline to read it as per industry definitions which is

A scheduled en route stopping station on a flight.

If on a r/t ticket to China, then I can see why the airline will not class that as a trasit point, but is the destination of the journey

Also if only transitting en-route back to USA , again can see how this is not viewed as a transit

If China really is saying that no visa is needed as long as passenger has an onward journey out of china other than direct to country of origin, then it should update it - or is it China authorities that created the definition for timatic

What authorities may allow when a passenger arrives in the country ( which it seems that any onward flight is ok ) it should provide that clarification and then airlines will , like any other country, likely have no issues with passengers

The Embassy site at Visa-free Entry into Mainland China does say

Originally Posted by China
B. You must transit to a third country or region through one of the following specified international airports:

•Beijing via Beijing Capital International Airport,;
•Shanghai via Shanghai Hongqiao and Pudong International Airport;
•Guangzhou via Baiyun International Airport,
•Chengdu via Shuangliu International Airport;
•Chongqing via Jiangbei International Airport;
•Shenyang via Taoxian International Airport;
•Dalian via Zhoushuizi International Airport;
•Xi'an via Xianyang International Airport.


C. You must have a through air ticket with confirmed date of flight and seat for a third country or region.
So does seem that cases where someone has a separate booking onwards, does not comply with the stated requirements (e.g. a cruise) - someone at a turnaround point seems possibly also not in line with it - seems that the listed requirements do not match the day to day acceptance at the airport on arrival - the airline can only be expected to go by what is stated, not what may be allowed

Originally Posted by moondog View Post
TIMATIC's language is not hard for (even semi) educated people to comprehend.
the language is not clear that any onward travel is ok - regardless of how the immigration officers may allow it
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Old Sep 17, 18, 8:23 pm
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The language in TIMATIC has been refined over the years. Previous one had to “trick” it by selecting China as a transit point in order for any of the TWOV language to appear.

Currently, it shows up if China is selected as a destination and gives no reference the stay is a “transit”, “stopover”, or any term along those lines, only the length of stay, and travel to a third country. If the stay is at one of these locations, for less than a period of time, and the passenger has a confirmed air, cruise, or train ticket to a third country, you are good to go.

The following are exempt from holding a visa:
Nationals of USA holding confirmed onward air, cruise or train tickets to a third country, arriving in and departing from any one of the following locations: Beijing (PEK), Tianjin (TSN), Shijiazhuang (SJW), Beijing West Railway Station, Tianjin International Cruise Home Port or Qinhuangdao Sea Port for a maximum of 144 hours, starting from 00:01 on the day following the day of entry. They must have a passport valid for a minimum of 3 months from the arrival date
There is no excuse anymore to screw this up.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post

the language is not clear that any onward travel is ok - regardless of how the immigration officers may allow it
The language is crystal clear to me. How would you improve it?
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Old Sep 17, 18, 9:04 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
The language is crystal clear to me. How would you improve it?
The current language in Timatic is certainly clearer than in the past. I presume carriers all over the world have fewer problems now than they did with the previous language.

That being said, you do understand the rule has no logic, right? For example, PAX 1 buys a ticket flying from LAX to PVG to LAX and must have a visa while PAX 2 buys a ticket flying from LAX to PVG and returning to LAX with a connection at NRT and does not need to have a visa.

If the Chinese government truly wanted to address this issue, they could simply implement a rule that citizens of designated countries visiting PVG and exiting the country can visit visa free for up to 144 hours. Unless they implement a logical rule, carriers globally will continue to have a problem since the distinction between PAX 1 and PAX 2 makes no sense to the average agent checking passengers in.
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Old Sep 17, 18, 9:37 pm
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Originally Posted by C17PSGR View Post
If the Chinese government truly wanted to address this issue, they could simply implement a rule that citizens of designated countries visiting PVG and exiting the country can visit visa free for up to 144 hours. Unless they implement a logical rule, carriers globally will continue to have a problem since the distinction between PAX 1 and PAX 2 makes no sense to the average agent checking passengers in.
Yes! Why tie it to transit at all, no matter how they choose to define it?
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Old Sep 17, 18, 10:13 pm
  #749  
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
The language is crystal clear to me. How would you improve it?
Well - the China Embassy site uses the term transit and also says it has to be a through ticket

The wording becomes ambiguous because of the use of "transit" and that it is onward travel to a 3rd country

It is quite reasonable to infer that a transit through Tokyo en-route on return journey back to USA is not in line with this

It would be clear if it simply stated that people visiting for 144 hours or fewer do not need a visa if entering for tourism purposes
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Old Sep 18, 18, 1:48 am
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
Well - the China Embassy site uses the term transit and also says it has to be a through ticket

The wording becomes ambiguous because of the use of "transit" and that it is onward travel to a 3rd country

It is quite reasonable to infer that a transit through Tokyo en-route on return journey back to USA is not in line with this

It would be clear if it simply stated that people visiting for 144 hours or fewer do not need a visa if entering for tourism purposes
Chinese Embassy? Are you serious? How many Chinese embassy or consulate employees do you know that have a single ounce of knowledge about this topic?

Last edited by moondog; Sep 18, 18 at 1:56 am
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