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AA Travel Visa Errors and Issues for Two Honeymooners

AA Travel Visa Errors and Issues for Two Honeymooners

Old Dec 12, 17, 7:45 am
  #76  
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Originally Posted by thoglette View Post
They are supposed to be competent at their job. If that means knowing how "Schengen states" is spelt in 26 languages they better bloody know all of them.
IMO, they don't need to know it off the top of their head. Where do you draw the line at knowing the translation in 26 languages but not knowing all the documentation rules to begin with? This is an AA problem for not providing employees with the proper tools to do their job correctly and for agents not being humble to know when they don't know something and seek assistance (from a document-support help line or something).
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Old Dec 12, 17, 7:52 am
  #77  
 
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
IMO, they don't need to know it off the top of their head. Where do you draw the line at knowing the translation in 26 languages but not knowing all the documentation rules to begin with? This is an AA problem for not providing employees with the proper tools to do their job correctly and for agents not being humble to know when they don't know something and seek assistance (from a document-support help line or something).
I think we can agree that we can't expect agent to know 26 languages. Especially in Des Moines. How could this be have been solved?
1) IATA could provide in the TIMATIC text that visa is good for Italy if it bears the text valid for "Italy", or "Italia", or "Schengen states", or "Etats Schengen", or "Schengeni államok", or any of the other umpteen variations, all spelled out. Just list them all in TIMATIC. That would overcome the obvious inability of agents to know 26 languages.
2) If DSM agent is still unsure, DSM agent could issue BP to the international gateway (ORD, JFK, whatever), and defer to the more experienced agents there to deal with the final decision.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 8:21 am
  #78  
 
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Originally Posted by carlosdca View Post
The thing is that in this particular case, THERE WAS NO EXCEPTION.
The OP's relatives had a generic C SCHENGEN VISA, that, BY DEFINITION allows entry to the 26 member states.
(On what embassy one gets the visa and what country one visits first is completely irrelevant, once the visa sticker is on the passport the visa is valid for all 26 member states)




And I know a lot about Schengen visas since I traveled on those for 10 years, 4-5 times per year before becoming a US citizen and I have tons of co-workers from all over the world that have and continue to travel on Schengen Visas. The unicorn visa with something other than "ETATS SCHENGEN" (or equivalent in other language) in the field VALID TO is a myth created on this FT thread. It does not exist, it wouldn't be a C Schengen Visa.

Having said that, I have not heard of anybody other than the OP encountering a denied boarding pass issue when on a Schengen visa
Traveling on a Schengen visa is VERY common and there are thousands of people traveling on it from the US to any of the 26 schengen countries everyday.
It is not an obscure visa to a small african country. It is not a complicated TWOV rule or anything like that.
I understand that AA's agents rely on TIMATIC and can't learn the rules for entry into every single country in the world, but given how common the schengen visa is this is something that the agents should be trained on (that in the valid to field, it will say Schengen States, not the name of a specific country).
This is a ridiculous as an agent in Europe denying a boarding pass because someone has a VISA to the United States but destination is Los Angeles, California and California is not mentioned in the the visa.

Too bad the OP's relatives did not stand their grounds as calling a supervisor would have probably resolved the issue as pax traveling on Schengen visa is every day business for american airlines.
Strange that Finland, one of the 26 Schengen countries, is not included in that map. How do you write "Schengen States" in Finnish?
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Old Dec 12, 17, 9:24 am
  #79  
 
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This discussion was very interesting and I think the larger question is if there
is a way to avoid such situation if you as a passenger knows that you are right
and being denied boarding ?
- Could AA get a signed waiver from passenger removing AA from liability if
the destination country or transiting country denied admission ?
- Could AA collect deposit (via CC) from the passenger just in case his/her return
needs to be arranged if they are denied admission ? Allow them to board on
their current ticket but has the requisite deposit to bring them back.
Unfortunately training someone to understand complex visa / admission
requirements is impossible and with proper safeguards in place AA could
avoid rare situations like these....
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Old Dec 12, 17, 9:30 am
  #80  
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Originally Posted by flyalways View Post
This discussion was very interesting and I think the larger question is if there
is a way to avoid such situation if you as a passenger knows that you are right
and being denied boarding ?
- Could AA get a signed waiver from passenger removing AA from liability if
the destination country or transiting country denied admission ?
- Could AA collect deposit (via CC) from the passenger just in case his/her return
needs to be arranged if they are denied admission ? Allow them to board on
their current ticket but has the requisite deposit to bring them back.
Unfortunately training someone to understand complex visa / admission
requirements is impossible and with proper safeguards in place AA could
avoid rare situations like these....
This very situation occurred a while back. The GA contacted the "travel czar" in Dallas and after he couldn't give the correct answer offered to allow us to fly IF we agreed to pay any fines assessed to AA should we be denied entrance to China. It didn't come to that since we knew the proper rules and no issues upon arrival. I'm not too sure how enforceable that verbal agreement would have been, just glad we didn't have to test it. There does not seem to be any recourse when AA makes the mistake.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 10:21 am
  #81  
 
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Originally Posted by GaryD View Post
Strange that Finland, one of the 26 Schengen countries, is not included in that map. How do you write "Schengen States" in Finnish?
  • That map is from the French Consulate Website. Feel free to write a letter to their webmaster to update it.
  • Schengen Valtiot
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Old Dec 12, 17, 11:09 am
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post
I think we can agree that we can't expect agent to know 26 languages. Especially in Des Moines. How could this be have been solved?
1) IATA could provide in the TIMATIC text that visa is good for Italy if it bears the text valid for "Italy", or "Italia", or "Schengen states", or "Etats Schengen", or "Schengeni államok", or any of the other umpteen variations, all spelled out. Just list them all in TIMATIC. That would overcome the obvious inability of agents to know 26 languages.
2) If DSM agent is still unsure, DSM agent could issue BP to the international gateway (ORD, JFK, whatever), and defer to the more experienced agents there to deal with the final decision.
Well, actually, I would ask.
How were AA agents doing it for the last 20 years?
The Schengen visa has existed at least since the mid 1990s.

As I stated before, I have traveled on a Schengen visa to Europe on AA 40+ times.
To Poland with Schengen issued by Germany, to Germany on Schengen issued by Spain, etc. etc.
In all instances, the AA agent did not blink an eye and did not even ask a question, just issued the BPs.

This was pre-merger though. Those AA agents had to be trained somehow, either by experience or by specific training.
What is going on now? Bring back those old agents, or train the new agents as they used to train the old ones?

Last edited by carlosdca; Dec 12, 17 at 11:16 am
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Old Dec 12, 17, 11:42 am
  #83  
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Originally Posted by RogerD408 View Post
This very situation occurred a while back. The GA contacted the "travel czar" in Dallas and after he couldn't give the correct answer offered to allow us to fly IF we agreed to pay any fines assessed to AA should we be denied entrance to China. It didn't come to that since we knew the proper rules and no issues upon arrival. I'm not too sure how enforceable that verbal agreement would have been, just glad we didn't have to test it. There does not seem to be any recourse when AA makes the mistake.
It was a charade.

You are responsible for any fines and fees, as well as the costs of security at the destination where you are denied entry and the cost of the ticket back. That was true whether the agent said it or not.

The problem is that collecting a $10K fine plus the other costs is not easy and may be completely impossible.

That is why the decision to seek a :"waiver" is generally not employed.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 1:17 pm
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Based on the information we have been given, it appears that the agent may have made a mistake, most likely by thinking that the “FRA” on the visa limited its validity to France only, or by expecting Italy to be specifically stated on the visa following the “ETATS SCHENGEN” text.

In my ticket agent days, I received additional training regarding Schengen visas in particular. However, I worked at a hub with multiple nonstop flights to Europe and it’s possible that an agent in DSM may not have been given the same opportunities given the much more limited frequency with which they would encounter such questions. That being said, Timatic does have a page defining the Schengen states and giving a brief explanation of how it works.
Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
It was a charade.

You are responsible for any fines and fees, as well as the costs of security at the destination where you are denied entry and the cost of the ticket back. That was true whether the agent said it or not.

The problem is that collecting a $10K fine plus the other costs is not easy and may be completely impossible.

That is why the decision to seek a :"waiver" is generally not employed.
​​​​​​​I can’t imagine the travel czar giving the okay for this. The fine is levied against the airline and I don’t know how they would begin to collect it from a passenger.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 8:14 pm
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Sigh,

It saddens me to read this thread.

One, because it points to a systematic and cultural problem at AA: front-line employees are being trained to say "no" rather than to actually try to solve problems. A simple call would have resolved this very quickly. I'd like to term this "negative empowerment", and honestly it distinguishes the American service culture quite a bit. You (FTers) are all familiar with this: AAgents making up excuses to justify basically being lazy. It's toxic, and I honestly don't know how AA is going to fix this. The China TWOV issues, and even some of the visa and ticketing related issues I've had all point at this... It's why HUCA is the motto of the AA forum! Perhaps AAgents that make a mistake are punished and sent to the gulag or something, and they're too scared, or perhaps it's something else. But AA really needs to address it. I hope the OP gets their situation resolved: and DOT is honestly the best next step, because even SCC wants to see a good faith effort to get things resolved - court should be a last resort to compel an unreasonable party to abide by their legal obligations.

Two, the armchair people here that seem to make up excuses when AA is clearly wrong - like this unicorn Schengen C visa for France only or some really bad interpretation of the China TWOV rules.

Anyway, perhaps its something we just have to live with.

Last edited by no2chem; Dec 12, 17 at 8:22 pm
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Old Dec 12, 17, 8:38 pm
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One of the key factors in trying to get AA to accept responsibility for denying boarding is so that we do not have to just live with it. They are in the business of transporting people. Lisa did all the footwork to make sure that she had proper documentation and then because of a misinterpretation, it threw their honeymoon into a turmoil. When you do everything right and the airlines screws up, one should not have to live with it.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 10:22 pm
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Originally Posted by khibner View Post
One of the key factors in trying to get AA to accept responsibility for denying boarding is so that we do not have to just live with it. They are in the business of transporting people. Lisa did all the footwork to make sure that she had proper documentation and then because of a misinterpretation, it threw their honeymoon into a turmoil. When you do everything right and the airlines screws up, one should not have to live with it.
So, I'm curious, based on everything here, have you/she made a decision about how you are going to pursue this?
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Old Dec 13, 17, 12:25 am
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Originally Posted by CaptainMiles View Post

The other problem is a more practical one. How is an agent in Des Moines supposed to know that "Etats Schengen" means "Schengen states", without a requirement to know the French language? More so, how is that agent supposed to know that "Schengeni államok" is "Schengen states" in Hungarian? And, as @Often1 pointed out, how is that agent going to know whether Schengeni is a travel zone or a German sausage?
Easy, just print Schengen on the line or remove the line completely since it is redundant as the C visa is for the entire Schengen area. This is not rocket science folks.


I think it’s about time for AA to remove the human from the loop in this process. This can all be automated by an algorithm and some input device that takes in the visa, passport and itinerary information.
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Old Dec 13, 17, 1:00 am
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Originally Posted by muishkin View Post
I think it’s about time for AA to remove the human from the loop in this process. This can all be automated by an algorithm and some input device that takes in the visa, passport and itinerary information.
Can't completely automate unless you define some format for visas (including documents that can substitute for visas such as national identity cards or residence permits/cards) akin to biometric passports. I can imagine getting the 192 ICAO member states to agree to this will be troublesome.

And if you don't have a stand-alone visa sticker/document (e.g. Australia, where the visa holder's non-Australian passport is the identity document and Aus govt provides a service to verify the non-Australian is a visa holder), the check-in system will have to learn to query that country's visa database, or the database has to be re-implemented to meet new ICAO standards.

Furthermore any country-specific check e.g. show return ticket, proof of funds, immunisation certificate, sight birth certificate for children (South Africa) etc. will have to be catered for.

So you're still going to need a human troubleshooter.

I can then imagine an angle for fee rorting - if your documents fail to pass through the automated identity check, $/EUR 10 manual processing fee.

P.S. ICAO has mooted the idea of standardised visas and evisas. In fact the Schengen C visa already complies with Doc 9303 MRV-B https://www.icao.int/Meetings/AMC/MR...-VisaeVisa.pdf

Last edited by percysmith; Dec 13, 17 at 1:21 am
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Old Dec 13, 17, 1:51 am
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Originally Posted by thoglette View Post
They are supposed to be competent at their job. If that means knowing how "Schengen states" is spelt in 26 languages they better bloody know all of them.
They don't even need to know how that is spelt in 26 languages as 'Schengen' will be a common word. The agent must have not know about the existence of the Schengen travel area and expected for 'Italy' to be listed on the visa. Either way, it is AA's fault. Country specific visas are very rare, and an agent is more likely not to see one of those than not to see a standard Schengen visa in their working life. And whether the agent was confused by 'FRA' is also irrelevant - they should have known how to read a visa and that three letters in the top right corner of the visa means nothing with respect to where the holder is allowed to travel. The passenger should have been allowed to travel to the hub airport where this probably would not have occurred.
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