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Int'l to Int'l Connections At GRU Without Visa

Int'l to Int'l Connections At GRU Without Visa

Old Mar 12, 17, 4:03 pm
  #16  
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Solution Found

I am now ticketed with the GRU transit involving a two hour and 50 minute layover between CM (Copa) and SA (South African). Under the MSC rule this means I can have two carry-on suitcases in both the CM and SA business class cabins, each weighing up to eight kilos (assuming they meet the 45 inch total and 22 inch maximum constraints) plus a hand carried item.

I did have to change the origination of this part of my travel from LIM to SCL in order to make this work, so my through itinerary is now SCL-PTY-GRU-JNB-CPT (on CM and SA respectively). (See Related Note below.)

Because UA didn't give me seat assignments on my SA flights, I called SA today. While speaking with the SA agent (who was far more knowledgeable than the SA agent I had spoken to a few days ago who never called me back), I confirmed that CM and SA have a good working relationship and that the two hour and fifty minute connection shouldn't be a problem, especially in the absence of any checked baggage. I then asked her: What happens if there's a mechanical issue and I miss my connection at GRU? Can I just stay in the transit lounge until the next flight or what? Her answer was VERY interesting. She said: First there is a maximum 12 hour connection rule for visa free transfer at GRU. (That's probably a rule specific to SA but it's helpful to know nonetheless.) Second, and this is the real clincher: She said SA has some sort of treaty agreement with the government of Brazil to waive whatever visa requirements / transit limits are in place if a passenger is detained longer than 12 hours and has to take a significantly later flight because of mechanical or similar issues.

Wow. That just about resolves all of my issues.

One other thing she mentioned which could be helpful if I get hung up at PTY: If I spend time in Panama (which apparently in this context includes anything more than 12 hours in transit at PTY), the government of South Africa will require proof of yellow fever immunization in order to grant me entry. While I expect to only spend 5 hours and 35 minutes in transit in Panama, in case I get stuck there for a day I will be sure to have my proof of yellow fever immunization.

Related Note: As I mentioned, I ended up booking SCL-PTY-GRU-JNB-CPT. The primary reason I did this (other than the fact that I am happy to go back to Santiago for a few days and this award was only 45,000 miles versus 85,000 miles for an award starting in either Lima or Panama City and ending in South Africa) was that neither UA nor CM's reservation service could even show the PTY-GRU-JNB-CPT (or PTY-GRU-JNB) itinerary-- not on an award basis and also not a revenue basis. Given that PTY is CM's hub, this actually seems pretty remarkable. Anyways, that then became the reason for rejiggering my trip to visit Santiago rather than Lima on the outbound.

Last edited by Rover75; Mar 12, 17 at 4:10 pm
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Old Mar 12, 17, 6:50 pm
  #17  
 
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Glad it worked out well in the end. Safe travels!
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Old Mar 12, 17, 9:09 pm
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by Rover75 View Post
While I expect to only spend 5 hours and 35 minutes in transit in Panama, in case I get stuck there for a day I will be sure to have my proof of yellow fever immunization]
I did GRU-JNB last year and def a good idea to get the document. SA made every passenger show the form before boarding. Might be a situation where non-Brazilians could argue their way out but that's not something I recommend. Then when you get to JNB they don't even care. As an aside, immigration in JNB can regularly take over an hour so be sure to leave a good buffer for your connection. It took us 90 minutes, very frustrating.
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Old Mar 12, 17, 9:41 pm
  #19  
 
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Wow - this is thread is really helpful! I'm in a similar situation (Will United be able to print all my boarding passes?) and was asking for help over on the UA forum, but maybe you guys can advise me as well.

I'm booked on an award ticket with the routing ORD-GRU-JNB-NBO. My flight from ORD is on UA I have an 8 hour (daytime) layover in GRU before continuing onward to JNB on SAA. I was really hoping to avoid getting a visa. Do you all think I'll be ok? I just don't want to show up at ORD to have the agent refuse me boarding because I don't have a visa...
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Old Mar 13, 17, 7:01 am
  #20  
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Originally Posted by Esmjb View Post
I did GRU-JNB last year and def a good idea to get the document. SA made every passenger show the form before boarding. Might be a situation where non-Brazilians could argue their way out but that's not something I recommend. Then when you get to JNB they don't even care. As an aside, immigration in JNB can regularly take over an hour so be sure to leave a good buffer for your connection. It took us 90 minutes, very frustrating.
Double thanks for the confirmation re yellow fever.

I sent a message to my doctor yesterday (convenient, since I have a checkup in just a week and a half) requesting proof of yellow fever vaccination and-- if warranted-- a new yellow fever immunization.

(Which reminds me I should check to see if there are any immunization requirements for entering Australia, my next destination after RSA.)

Also, thanks for the heads up about JNB immigration. I have a 4 hour and 25 minute connection to CPT at JNB, so no worries about the immigration queue. I am hoping I will be able to get a shower in the SA lounge between planes. (Don't know yet whether I can access the international lounge before I clear customs or whether the domestic lounge has showers, but I'll be sure to figure it out.) And I should, being *A Gold, be able to stand by for an earlier flight to CPT if I get through immigrations quickly (assuming there's business class space available).
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Old Mar 13, 17, 8:29 am
  #21  
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On a related note, I just discovered this thread here:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/brazi...int-l-gru.html

which relates to the time required to transit between international terminal 2 and international terminal 3 at GRU. While you should read the whole thread and check with your carrier(s) if your connection at GRU is tight, here is the main takeway (IMO):

Terminal 3 is about two and one-half miles by taxi from Terminal 2 [assuming you go through immigration]... There is another way to access Terminal 3 after checking in at Terminal 2 [i.e., on the airside]. Access from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 is via a very long "sky bridge" or "ponte" in Portuguese. The bridge is close to two miles in length. To access the bridge, it is required to go through security again, which made little sense because we did not exit any secure area. Walking as fast as we could (while pulling a carry on), it took us about thirty-five minutes to get from Terminal 2 to the gate in Terminal 3.

This thread is a couple of years old so if anything has changed in the intervening period that would make this connection easier (or harder), please do comment. (I care about this because CM arrives at GRU Terminal 2 and SA departs from GRU terminal 3.)

Last edited by Rover75; Mar 13, 17 at 8:40 am
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Old Mar 13, 17, 9:54 am
  #22  
 
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Originally Posted by Rover75 View Post
Double thanks for the confirmation re yellow fever.

I sent a message to my doctor yesterday (convenient, since I have a checkup in just a week and a half) requesting proof of yellow fever vaccination and-- if warranted-- a new yellow fever immunization.

(Which reminds me I should check to see if there are any immunization requirements for entering Australia, my next destination after RSA.)

Also, thanks for the heads up about JNB immigration. I have a 4 hour and 25 minute connection to CPT at JNB, so no worries about the immigration queue. I am hoping I will be able to get a shower in the SA lounge between planes. (Don't know yet whether I can access the international lounge before I clear customs or whether the domestic lounge has showers, but I'll be sure to figure it out.) And I should, being *A Gold, be able to stand by for an earlier flight to CPT if I get through immigrations quickly (assuming there's business class space available).
Both the SAA Arrivals and Domestic Lounges have showers. The Arrivals Lounge is a little smaller and might be crowded with the all the international flights arriving in the morning.
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Old Mar 13, 17, 1:16 pm
  #23  
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Originally Posted by FlyPI View Post
Both the SAA Arrivals and Domestic Lounges have showers. The Arrivals Lounge is a little smaller and might be crowded with the all the international flights arriving in the morning.
Thanks, but SA 225 actually arrives at 13:20, which is after the published closing time for the arrivals lounge and probably long after most of the long haul flights have arrived. Knowing there is a shower in the domestic lounge is great intelligence but-- given that I've been warned to expect a long time at immigration and that I have over four hours for my connection-- I think I'll probably still try to clean up before I go through immigration.

But it is great to know I have multiple options.

Thanks!

Last edited by Rover75; Mar 13, 17 at 1:26 pm
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Old Mar 13, 17, 3:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Rover75 View Post
Terminal 3 is about two and one-half miles by taxi from Terminal 2 [assuming you go through immigration]... There is another way to access Terminal 3 after checking in at Terminal 2 [i.e., on the airside]. Access from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 is via a very long "sky bridge" or "ponte" in Portuguese. The bridge is close to two miles in length. To access the bridge, it is required to go through security again, which made little sense because we did not exit any secure area. Walking as fast as we could (while pulling a carry on), it took us about thirty-five minutes to get from Terminal 2 to the gate in Terminal 3.
My daughter is doing the opposite, she's arriving on a Saturday with a carry-on only:
AA 215 arriving 7:55 AM on Terminal 3
G3 1078 departing 10:15 AM on Terminal 2

Will she make it?
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Old Mar 13, 17, 3:43 pm
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Originally Posted by boboqui View Post
My daughter is doing the opposite, she's arriving on a Saturday with a carry-on only:
AA 215 arriving 7:55 AM on Terminal 3
G3 1078 departing 10:15 AM on Terminal 2

Will she make it?
I'll give you a limited answer and encourage you to wait for more experienced travelers to chime in. (Warning: This does NOT come from personal experience, but from my recent immersion in reading about GRU transfers.)

If I understand you correctly, your daughter is connecting to a domestic flight, not an international flight. (BTW, from what I have read, I believe you can't connect to any Gol flight-- domestic or international-- if arriving internationally on any other airline without going through immigration first, which obviously means needing to have a visa. Anybody-- If I am wrong about that, please say so!)

So I think the larger question is how long it will take her to get through immigration before she can head over to the Gol terminal to get her onward flight. I have read that you can grab a taxi for the landside transfer so she probably won't have the problem of the very long walk described in my post if she is delayed.

If at all possible, you or she should check with her carriers directly and confirm what the appropriate protocol for transfering is going to be.

Last edited by Rover75; Mar 13, 17 at 6:14 pm
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Old Mar 13, 17, 3:46 pm
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Originally Posted by boboqui View Post
My daughter is doing the opposite, she's arriving on a Saturday with a carry-on only:
AA 215 arriving 7:55 AM on Terminal 3
G3 1078 departing 10:15 AM on Terminal 2

Will she make it?
That’s a different situation (int'l to domestic connection). She would be wise to pre-check in online/via the Gol app. She’ll have to go through immigration and customs. The first question is whether she’s a Brazilian national: if so, she’ll clear immigration much more quickly as she’d be able to go through the e-gates by scanning her passport. Once past customs, the walk to T2 is not that long (maybe 15-20 mins at a brisk pace, and with help from the moving walkways), and without bags to check, she can just head to domestic departures and reach her gate up to 20 mins before the scheduled departure time.

I reckon she’ll be at the gate around 9:15am, assuming no delays.
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Old Mar 13, 17, 6:48 pm
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Originally Posted by RafKa View Post
That’s a different situation (int'l to domestic connection). She would be wise to pre-check in online/via the Gol app. She’ll have to go through immigration and customs. The first question is whether she’s a Brazilian national: if so, she’ll clear immigration much more quickly as she’d be able to go through the e-gates by scanning her passport. Once past customs, the walk to T2 is not that long (maybe 15-20 mins at a brisk pace, and with help from the moving walkways), and without bags to check, she can just head to domestic departures and reach her gate up to 20 mins before the scheduled departure time.

I reckon she’ll be at the gate around 9:15am, assuming no delays.

Yes, she has dual nationality. I wasn't aware of e-gates, where are they located? Are there any at GIG as well? Doing a Gol pre-check in is a goog tip as well. Thanks!
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Old Mar 13, 17, 7:01 pm
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Originally Posted by boboqui View Post
Yes, she has dual nationality. I wasn't aware of e-gates, where are they located? Are there any at GIG as well? Doing a Gol pre-check in is a goog tip as well. Thanks!
Yes, e-gates at both GRU and GIG. Brazilian nationals are automatically directed to the (it's the default option).
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Old Mar 13, 17, 8:50 pm
  #29  
 
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I forget if I'm responding to Rover75 or ron187....

No, I can't imagine an issue with the 2 8 kg carry-ons on SA.

RE. origin and boarding passes. I twice have traveled r/t PTY-GRU-JNB-MPM. Once booked with a travel agent, and once with Expedia. Both times I was presented with the booking codes for each airline, and used those to call up my reservations on each airline's website, at least to print out the itinerary, possibly to select seats, I don't recall. Got all the boarding passes at checkin.

CM used to have a nice connection to the SA flight, but they dropped that flight with their Brasil cutbacks, resulting in 12 hour layovers in both directions; maybe it's been restored as I read above.

Yes, I recall a security checkpoint walking airside between the two terminals (but not passport control). CM operates out of one of the "old" terminals, while SA and most other international carriers are out of the "new" terminal. It's a hike, in a lonely corridor, but with a long layover, no problem. And I vaguely recall that on the return, I was "stuck" in the Gol lounge in the old terminal before the CM flight, and couldn't get to the excellent *A lounge in the new terminal. The Gol lounge wasn't that bad, just cramped and crowded comparatively.

I now see above it's a couple of miles between the terminals. Had nothing better to do anyway.
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Old Mar 16, 17, 4:52 pm
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Originally Posted by YadiMolina View Post
.
I now see above it's a couple of miles between the terminals. Had nothing better to do anyway.
It is not a "couple of miles" between the terminals if you connect int'l to int'l (staying airside all the time).

We landed in T3 AF from Paris and then took Aerolinias Argentinas to Buenos Aires from T2
Yes, there's a longish corridor between T3 and T2 but all we marched was something like 15 minutes, a km or so, not a mile or a "couple of miles". :-)
A recent experience, January 2017.
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