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Canadian PR / eTA - Supporting airlines

Canadian PR / eTA - Supporting airlines

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Old Jan 16, 19, 12:13 pm
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Canadian PR / eTA - Supporting airlines

As many will be aware those who have a Canadian PR (Permanent Resident) card are able to and in fact have to travel without an eTA when using a passport from a country that now requires one. You can't get a eTA.

I've noticed that not all airlines support this, so wanted to post my findings here, and if there is enough interest / information maybe even create a wiki.
To say upfront, clearly the easiest fix for this would be for the relevant authorities to start returning a "Approved from travel" when finding a passport linked to a PR card - but that's beyond the scope of this forum so I'm just concentrating on airlines involvement.

This list is in order. And yes, for Air Canada is actually top.

1) Air Canada. 9.5/10. Both mobile app and website request and accept PR card details when (presumably) no eTA is detected. Allows one to check in for their flight without issues. They lose 0.5 marks due to (unconfirmed) reports or asking people with an eTA for their PR card details.

2) United. 4/10. Mobile app returns "Travelers who are seeking to enter Canada must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) prior to check in ....". Website has a check in option for PR card holders but this was non-functional returning a similar message. United claims one should phone them when this happens.

3) American Airlines. 1/10. I haven't yet traveled internationally returning to Canada with AA yet but contacted them ahead of time and received a phone call confirming I'd have to check in at the airport because they don't support Canadian PR or any other related status and had no plans to resolve this. They get 1/10 as they seem aware of it.

4) Swiss. 0/0. Attempts to check in on mobile generated error "Unfortunately, we have not received travel approval from the Canadian authorities for <name> ...". Website gave same or similar error message. Phoning Swiss resulting in being told to phone the airport. Phoning the airport resulting in being told to phone Swiss. At the airport I was asked for my visa several times. Contacting Swiss after the fact generated an email that said I could not "check-in online due to system complications" and that "Due to the strict travel requirements for Canada the SWISS online check-in app may not function as normal.". No indication was given as to if they planned to ever fix it.

Has anyone else had these same or different experiences with these or other airlines and contacted them about it?
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Old Jan 17, 19, 1:19 am
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I think you need to reframe the scope of your post a bit.

All airlines I am aware of support letting Canadian PRs without an eTA board flights to Canada. I have yet to hear a report of somebody being denied boarding.

However, many airlines (including the ones you mention above) may not have bothered to properly configure their self-serve check-in tools (web / mobile / kiosk) to handle these situations. And if, like LX, I have one flight a day to Canada, I will probably not make this a priority for my dev team either.
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Old Jan 17, 19, 7:06 am
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Originally Posted by airoli View Post
I think you need to reframe the scope of your post a bit.

All airlines I am aware of support letting Canadian PRs without an eTA board flights to Canada. I have yet to hear a report of somebody being denied boarding.

However, many airlines (including the ones you mention above) may not have bothered to properly configure their self-serve check-in tools (web / mobile / kiosk) to handle these situations. And if, like LX, I have one flight a day to Canada, I will probably not make this a priority for my dev team either.
Yes, it's online checkin that one can't do with most of these airlines. Obviously especially if one is flying without a selected seat and in Y, checking in at the airport vastly increases the chance of being bumped or dumped in a bad seat (more so with some airlines than others).
LX has at least two flights a day which they'd require an eTA for. LX8 may fly to ORD but they share with UA to codeshare into YYZ. When I was checked in for LX8, they needed to validate my PR card for the final destination.
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Old Jan 17, 19, 7:28 am
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Originally Posted by jc94 View Post
LX has at least two flights a day which they'd require an eTA for.
LX operates one flight (not daily in winter) to YUL. WK has seasonal flights to YYC and YVR.

As part of Star Alliance, LX can check you in on a gazillion of possible itineraries that will eventually deliver you to Canada. Just like they can check you in to Mexico, South Korea or many other countries it doesn't serve itself.

Regrettable as it is, LX and other airlines in similar situations will simply not prioritize the more complicated immigration requirements for their secondary destination countries in self-serve development.

All good to start a wiki - just need to specify that it's not a matter of which airlines PRs can fly on, but which airlines are capable of properly handling PRs without TAs at off-counter check-in.
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Old Jan 17, 19, 7:45 am
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Any flight starting on Swiss that is on a PNR entering or ending in Canada, including those that go to
other countries first (like LX8) also have this issue.

So yes one direct flight a day, but there are more than just the people on LX86 having this potential issue.

But yes itís less of an issue for LX than UA and AA.
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Old Jan 17, 19, 8:49 am
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This isn't a Canada only issue - it applies to most countries where something other than a passport is required - physical visas, other countries with residence cards / work permits, etc. I don't recall not being able to check in online (to select seat, etc.) with a PR card, but on several occasions it has said a boarding pass cannot be issued until the documents are shown to someone at the airport. It would be close to impossible for airlines to be able to configure online check in to account for every single possibility, and require them to be linked into way more government systems than they are, whereas an experienced check in agent can glance at a PR card, physical visa or work permit and know if the person is fine to travel.
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Old Jan 17, 19, 10:44 am
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Originally Posted by emma69 View Post
This isn't a Canada only issue - it applies to most countries where something other than a passport is required - physical visas, other countries with residence cards / work permits, etc. I don't recall not being able to check in online (to select seat, etc.) with a PR card, but on several occasions it has said a boarding pass cannot be issued until the documents are shown to someone at the airport. It would be close to impossible for airlines to be able to configure online check in to account for every single possibility, and require them to be linked into way more government systems than they are, whereas an experienced check in agent can glance at a PR card, physical visa or work permit and know if the person is fine to travel.
Thatís true, though for Canada a work permit still requires and is eTA eligible.

Can you recall the non AC airlines that let you do OLCI as a PR since the eTA became required for travel?

Iím sure airlines could deal with more than they do. Especially those based on the continent theyíre travelling to. For one AC does it, and Iím quite familiar with what is technically possible in web development.
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Old Jan 19, 19, 11:01 am
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I can tell you from my own experience that every time I've flown AA into Canada, they've issued a boarding pass via the app on the basis of my UK passport (with no valid ETA) and never ask about my PR card. When I arrive into YYZ, the kiosk has no record of my arrival.

Every other airline denies online check-in and I have to see an agent at bag drop.
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Old Jan 19, 19, 4:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Skatering View Post
I can tell you from my own experience that every time I've flown AA into Canada, they've issued a boarding pass via the app on the basis of my UK passport (with no valid ETA) and never ask about my PR card. When I arrive into YYZ, the kiosk has no record of my arrival.

Every other airline denies online check-in and I have to see an agent at bag drop.
Interesting, what do you mean by kiosk has no record? I assume this is all since it became required (about Oct 2016). Ever tried Air Canada? Be interesting to see what AA actually do to me in a few weeks. I will of course report back.
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Old Jan 20, 19, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by jc94 View Post


Interesting, what do you mean by kiosk has no record? I assume this is all since it became required (about Oct 2016). Ever tried Air Canada? Be interesting to see what AA actually do to me in a few weeks. I will of course report back.
I put my PR card into the reader and it displays a message akin to 'We were not expecting your arrival. Please enter your flight number' or words to that effect.

YMMV. I would not rely on AA as a means to re-enter Canada as a PR without a PR card.

I've not tried AC yet, but will soon.
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Old Jan 20, 19, 1:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Skatering View Post
I put my PR card into the reader and it displays a message akin to 'We were not expecting your arrival. Please enter your flight number' or words to that effect.

YMMV. I would not rely on AA as a means to re-enter Canada as a PR without a PR card.

I've not tried AC yet, but will soon.
Oh wow. Yeah never had that, though last time I came through YYZ (with UA) the machines were all dead.

AC is (for once) leader of the pack IMHO. Will see what AA does, my first leg is into to the US so maybe that will have an impact. I know LH once just checked me in not asking (eTA was in that weird not required but airlines wanted it period) but AC were keen to ask about it boarding my flight to Canada.
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Old Feb 24, 19, 6:23 pm
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So an update, AA does not deal well with PR cards. OLCI is not possible with a standard you need to apply for travel authorization on mobile and PC devices.

AA staff were pretty useless and it took 10 minutes to check me in. When it came to rebooking me on another (UA) flight, I ended up being denied boarding for 15 minutes while they tried to figure out what AA had done wrongly.
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