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 17, 17, 8:53 pm
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144 TWOV China- AA Issues/Questions

My family and I were denied boarding an AA LAX to PVG flight because the check-in agent and supervisor said our return flight (PVG-NRT-LAX) did not count towards a third country as it was only a 90 minute layover. They both accused me of trying to "abuse" the system to avoid a Chinese Visa.

I even showed them a confirmed email from the Chinese Embassy acknowledging my itinerary was acceptable to qualify. I have read a few threads that this itinerary works and according to the TIMATIC guidelines, there is no mention of a mandatory stopover in the third country.

AA charged me an additional 2k+ to re-ticket the fare to include a stopover in NRT. I have submitted a formal complaint I am waiting for a response.

This was a nightmare experience as we missed the original flight due to the chaos and confusion at the check-in counter and were forced to stay a night in NRT for no reason. We encounter hundreds of dollars in additional expenses for hotels, food, changed reservations due to the missed flight. We incurred extra charges for Hotel stay in LAX for the missed flight and another hotel for Narita for the mandatory stopover. We also incurred hundreds of dollars for the ancillaries like extra parking charges for the extended nights and all sorts of other expenses due to AA mistake.

What is the best avenue to re-coup all these expenses?

Last edited by FlyingJay; Apr 17, 17 at 9:59 pm Reason: More info
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Old Apr 17, 17, 8:56 pm
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Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, but without more detail it's kind of hard for anyone here to assess what happened. Specifically, how long was your time in PVG? From the wording it sounds like you had a 90-minute connection in NRT, but for visa purposes wouldn't the time in China be the most important factor?
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Old Apr 17, 17, 9:08 pm
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Originally Posted by rjw242 View Post
Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, but without more detail it's kind of hard for anyone here to assess what happened. Specifically, how long was your time in PVG? From the wording it sounds like you had a 90-minute connection in NRT, but for visa purposes wouldn't the time in China be the most important factor?
We were in China for much less than 144 hours. The denied boarding was based off the return flight. AA said the layover in NRT did not count and thus denied us baording without a Visa.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 9:15 pm
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Sometime I wonder if checking in for international flights and documents check should be handled in the days before a flight by having the pax submit passport numbers, visa numbers, picture uploads, etc and having it all done online and at the airport, the airline only verifies the documents submitted are in the passenger's possession.

Sometimes dealing with these airport agents when stressed for time can lead to very bad mistakes being made when an agent decides to go make up their own rule. Once, I already had boarding passes issued and docs checked hours before and only had to come back to check a bag and had to deal with the agent wanting to recheck everything. It's stressful having to deal with airport agents these days who cannot be bothered to properly do their jobs.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 9:40 pm
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I am confused.
• Duration of stop in third country is irrelevant (e.g., LAX-PVG-NRT-LAX is compliant, even if NRT stop is for only a few hours)
China 24, 72, and 144 hour Transit Without Visa ("TWOV") rules master thread

What info is AA looking at that shows a stay of a certain length is required?
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Old Apr 17, 17, 9:55 pm
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Originally Posted by mvoight View Post
I am confused.
• Duration of stop in third country is irrelevant (e.g., LAX-PVG-NRT-LAX is compliant, even if NRT stop is for only a few hours)
China 24, 72, and 144 hour Transit Without Visa ("TWOV") rules master thread

What info is AA looking at that shows a stay of a certain length is required?
The Agent and supervisor had no idea. They kept reading the TIMATIC guidelines trying to figure things out. They just kept saying I was trying to avoid a Visa for China. They also said because I wasn't going anywhere other than China I shouldn't qualify for a TWOV for China.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 9:56 pm
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This is most definitely -not- my forte, but I'll take a stab at it.

I think you were given wrong explanation, in a way.

TWOV requires travel to a third Country-- not a return to origin, so LAX to PVG followed by a return of PVG-NRT-LAX-- without that stopover in NRT, is, in fact, not a proper use of China TWOV.
You needed a actual Visa because you were actually visiting China.

But will defer to actual experts here.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 9:57 pm
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I can see what the agent's argument is - whether it is valid , I am unsure

The passenger's journey was actually a r/t to PVG with just a connection back to origin at NRT

LAX-PVG , PVG-LAX via NRT. Given that LAX-PVG is further than LAX-NRT, it is a r/t to PVG and not a transit onwards to Tokyo

With a 90 minute transit, the passenger is not destined for that 3rd country and will not clear immigration, customs etc
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Old Apr 17, 17, 10:04 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyingJay View Post
...They also said because I wasn't going anywhere other than China I shouldn't qualify for a TWOV for China.
They were correct about that.

Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
I can see what the agent's argument is - whether it is valid , I am unsure

The passenger's journey was actually a r/t to PVG with just a connection back to origin at NRT

LAX-PVG , PVG-LAX via NRT. Given that LAX-PVG is further than LAX-NRT, it is a r/t to PVG and not a transit onwards to Tokyo

With a 90 minute transit, the passenger is not destined for that 3rd country and will not clear immigration, customs etc
And I'm thinking that as the issue-- not officially entering the alleged Country of destination, just transiting there.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 10:06 pm
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I have not done it, but I have been thinking of doing it as a mileage run and from my understanding this is legitimate for 72 hours or less; however, it is a known risk the FAs and GAs do not know the rules correctly.

Ooops, I'm sorry were you on the 72 or 144?

Last edited by nutwpinut; Apr 17, 17 at 10:15 pm Reason: 72 or 144
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Old Apr 17, 17, 10:06 pm
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Onward travel to a third country allows for a 72 hours stay in China. Can't be used if you are returning to your country of origin.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 10:15 pm
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I'm getting some knowledgeable guidance here;

China was, indubitably, the destination here, not a transit point. You don't qualify for a transit without visa if you're not transiting, obviously.
My impression now is that people can and do occasionally get away with this but that the LAX agents were correct to insist in the change routing to technically comport with the TWOV rules.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 10:18 pm
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Originally Posted by mvoight View Post
I am confused.
• Duration of stop in third country is irrelevant (e.g., LAX-PVG-NRT-LAX is compliant, even if NRT stop is for only a few hours)
China 24, 72, and 144 hour Transit Without Visa ("TWOV") rules master thread

What info is AA looking at that shows a stay of a certain length is required?
From the Chinese side they don't care about the length of the transit. The only things that are required to be eligible are that your total time in PRC is less than the amount allowed in whichever city you are transiting in, and that you depart to a different country than you arrive from.

Unfortunately, many AA ticket agents are ignorant of the actual requirements and take the word "transit" literally so that if you're on a round-trip via NRT one way they refuse to consider that a transit in China, rather it's a transit in Japan. Although technically correct, this should not be relevant to the requirements for eligibility.

I had this same issue come up in January and was denied check in on a SAN-LAX-PEK-NRT-LAX-SAN itinerary. I called the EXP desk during the process, had someone from there talking to the check in agent explaining that the itinerary was fine, that the only way to get TIMATIC to show that the visa was not necessary was to list PEK as a transit rather than the destination but the agent refused. Escalation to several other people in the SAN airport did no good as they insisted a visa was necessary. It was extremely frustrating but I eventually decided to just give up as it was just a weekend getaway to burn an expiring eVIP. If it had been a necessary trip I'm not sure what I would have done but probably would have had to re-book as the OP did.

I immediately sent an email to CS explaining the situation and requesting that they ensure that all of their check in agents are trained on the actual TOV procedures. I had a response within a few hours apologizing and a complete refund was given within a week or two. I would encourage OP to do the same. Be polite, don't add any emotion to it, but don't mince words either - this is their fault. Simply state something to the effect of "Due to the lack of knowledge of your check in agents at LAX I was not allowed to check in for a trip that was applicable for TWV to China and was required to purchase a new itinerary for XXX reason. This required an additional, unnecessary expense of $XXXX and would appreciate it if you would refund that amount and ensure that your employees are properly trained so that this does not occur again"

Sadly, it's still a risk to try to do this since it does require a bit of thought to understand so if you get a check in agent who is incapable of independent thought you may be SOL (and apparently I'm still really bitter about this since I spent so much time writing this!) But, in my case at least, AA immediately made it right with no further discussion.
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Old Apr 17, 17, 10:20 pm
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I have a email confirmation from the Chinese Embassy confirming my itinerary as qualifying. The TIMATIC guidelines say I cannot have a DIRECT flight back to country of origin. PVG-NRT-LAX is an INDIRECT flight.

Originally Posted by IggySD View Post
From the Chinese side they don't care about the length of the transit. The only things that are required to be eligible are that your total time in PRC is less than the amount allowed in whichever city you are transiting in, and that you depart to a different country than you arrive from.

Unfortunately, many AA ticket agents are ignorant of the actual requirements and take the word "transit" literally so that if you're on a round-trip via NRT one way they refuse to consider that a transit in China, rather it's a transit in Japan. Although technically correct, this should not be relevant to the requirements for eligibility.

I had this same issue come up in January and was denied check in on a SAN-LAX-PEK-NRT-LAX-SAN itinerary. I called the EXP desk during the process, had someone from there talking to the check in agent explaining that the itinerary was fine, that the only way to get TIMATIC to show that the visa was not necessary was to list PEK as a transit rather than the destination but the agent refused. Escalation to several other people in the SAN airport did no good as they insisted a visa was necessary. It was extremely frustrating but I eventually decided to just give up as it was just a weekend getaway to burn an expiring eVIP. If it had been a necessary trip I'm not sure what I would have done but probably would have had to re-book as the OP did.

I immediately sent an email to CS explaining the situation and requesting that they ensure that all of their check in agents are trained on the actual TOV procedures. I had a response within a few hours apologizing and a complete refund was given within a week or two. I would encourage OP to do the same. Be polite, don't add any emotion to it, but don't mince words either - this is their fault. Simply state something to the effect of "Due to the lack of knowledge of your check in agents at LAX I was not allowed to check in for a trip that was applicable for TWV to China and was required to purchase a new itinerary for XXX reason. This required an additional, unnecessary expense of $XXXX and would appreciate it if you would refund that amount and ensure that your employees are properly trained so that this does not occur again"

Sadly, it's still a risk to try to do this since it does require a bit of thought to understand so if you get a check in agent who is incapable of independent thought you may be SOL (and apparently I'm still really bitter about this since I spent so much time writing this!) But, in my case at least, AA immediately made it right with no further discussion.
Thank You! I will do exactly as you explain. I took my wife and kids to Shanghai Disney for Spring Break. I had no choice but to re-ticket as agent said.

Originally Posted by nutwpinut View Post
I have not done it, but I have been thinking of doing it as a mileage run and from my understanding this is legitimate for 72 hours or less; however, it is a known risk the FAs and GAs do not know the rules correctly.

Ooops, I'm sorry were you on the 72 or 144?
144

Last edited by JY1024; Apr 17, 17 at 10:36 pm Reason: Merged consecutive posts from same member
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Old Apr 17, 17, 10:27 pm
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I would never attempt to fly the OPs routing & ticket.

I would get a 10 year CN visa for the peace of mind.

If I were going to attempt TVOV and wanted to use the indicated flights, I would be sure to book outbound as a one-way and return on a seperate ticket. Would then eticket a refundable J ticket PVG-SIN on SQ and use this ticket for LAX checkin as proof of eligibility for TWOV. Once in CN, cancel SQ tix for refund and fly AA home.

Last edited by Colin; Apr 17, 17 at 10:33 pm
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