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Help! Wrongfully Denied Boarding by Air Sinai/Egypt Air!!

Help! Wrongfully Denied Boarding by Air Sinai/Egypt Air!!

Old Jun 7, 2013, 9:41 am
  #1  
dd
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 334
Exclamation Help! Wrongfully Denied Boarding by Air Sinai/Egypt Air!!

Hi, I am posting this on behalf of my friend who was coming to visit me in Japan. We bought him a ticket from TLV-CAI-OSA return. The first segment was Air Sinai (Egypt Air Subsidiary?) and the second Egypt Air.

He checked in online and went to the airport, but was refused boarding in TLV with the reason that he didn't have a visa for Egypt. He argued with the check-in agents for a few hours, but after being at the airport for about 6 hours, he was finally sent home with a stamp saying that he was denied boarding.

After I heard about this, I called the Egyptian Consulate in NY to confirm with them if an Israeli Passport Holder is required to have a Visa to transit through Cairo Airport for 11 hours. They confirmed as long as he didn't leave the airport, no Visa needed.

I called Egypt Air in NY and they said that they could not help and that I should contact the website that issued the ticket and they would need to process a refund.

What recourse do we have other than just refunding the ticket? We still want him to come to Japan ASAP, but ticket prices are very high now since it's last minute. Who can I call/talk to get this straightened out? Shouldn't the airline be forced to pay some type of penalty, buy a new ticket or transfer the ticket to another carrier since it was their mistake?

Any help would be much appreciated!

Thanks!
dd is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2013, 5:26 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Zealand
Programs: NZ , QF , MK
Posts: 1,372
Sorry to hear about your friend's situation.

I don't have any answers for you, however, as someone who used to work in the industry I will mention a couple of things that it might pay for you to be aware of.

Even if you paid for your friend's ticket that doesn't actually change the fact that the ticket is a contract between them and the airline. You making payment on their behalf does not necessarily ( depending on which jurisdiction this falls under) make you a party to that contract. That means that it is highly likely that you will find the airline will refuse to discuss the issue with you as you are not the person named on the ticket. They may very well be legally prohibited from doing so depending on the local laws in their country. If you want to wade in on your friend's behalf you will probably need to obtain some form of legally binding written consent from them to do so.

The second thing is that (in my experience) when something like this occurs there may be additional information which you are not aware of. In general when an embassy or consulate of a particular country says a person holding passport ABC does not need a visa to transit XYZ for a period of no more than x hours there will actually be a string of exceptions a mile long which won't apply to most passengers but may apply to your friend and which mean a visa must be obtained. Some of these can be really obscure ( no visa required unless you happen to work as a journalist/ no visa required unless you are a serving member of the armed forces / no visa required unless the flights actually operate from different terminals / no visa required except if the passport holder is married to someone of XYZ nationality/ no visa required except if the six hour transit goes past midnight so is not 'same day' ..... and so on) . Some nationalities are subject to a lot more exceptions than others. Back when I was a travel agent I would strongly recommend that travellers who were on a 'controversial' passport actually take the time to get written confirmation of the visa requirements for their exact itinerary from a source which specialises in this type of service. Yes, there is a cost, but in general that cost is much less than the cost of being denied boarding because the traveller didn't pick up an obscure clause in the visa regulations which applied to them but not to most travellers. There is an old saying that a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on. Having seen some ugly situations over the years I have to say that verbal visa advice falls into the same categories.

I cringe when I see people giving well meant advice on anonymous forums saying "You don't need a visa to go from ABC to XYZ on a DEF passport" generally what they mean is "When I did a roughly similar trip 5 years ago I didn't need one for the dates and routing I took, so I assume that my experience then is still current now and is still valid for you" The problem with anonymous and/or verbal visa information is that you have absolutely no recourse if it turns out that it wasn't full and accurate information.

Anyway, I will get off my soapbox now, and wish your friend good luck in getting this situation sorted out. Just be prepared for the fact it may not be straightforward for you to get involved even if you were the one who paid for the ticket.
kiwiandrew is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2013, 10:00 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 575
30 seconds of effort on the web would have saved your passenger hours of grief.

dd, bit of a fine pickle, ol' chap. Sorry 'bout that. Per Timatic web (accessed thru' KLM and several other subscribers), it clearly states that a < 12 h transit should NOT attract a visa requirement and is allowed under TWOV.

/ 08JUN13 / 0013 UTC
National Israel (IL) /Embarkation Israel (IL)
Transit Egypt (EG) /Destination Japan (JP)
ALSO CHECK DESTINATION INFORMATION BELOW
Egypt (EG)
TWOV (Transit Without Visa):
Visa required, except for Holders of onward tickets for a max.
transit time of 12 hours
.
- Leaving the airport is permitted for passengers with transit
time between 6 and 12 hours. Passengers with transit time of
less than 6 hours may leave the transit area but not the
airport. (No hotel accommodation available at Cairo
Airport).


In fact, he could even have left the airport - I am not sure why the Egyptian consulate in NY mentioned that he couldn't leave the airport (BTW, dd, why NY? Are you now in Japan or in the US? You clearly say "visit me in Japan"). Here are the issues with what I consider to be a unconscionable oversight on the part of the uplifting airline:
1) Which "website" did you book the ticket through? That is key. The website is the agent finally responsible for what does or does not happen with your friend's ticket. As the provider of the service, they should be obligated to liaison with the airline to notify them WITH PROOF that the airline made a mistake and therefore as the party at fault, it becomes the airline's responsibility to provide alternative transportation.
2) I am completely dumbfounded that an airline which regularly provides transportation between Tel Aviv and Cairo does not know or understand the specifics of transit visa requirements for Israeli passport holders.
3) Finally, it is always the ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY of the passenger or passengers agent/ to know and understand visa requirements and waivers. In this case, I am absolutely and utterly confused as to why the passenger (and you, dd):
- Did not verse himself intimately with the transit visa requirements, knowing full well that he would need to transit a third country. In situations like this, he should have carried either an e-mail or letter from the Egyptian Consular section in Tel Aviv OR a Timatic web printout which clearly states he is able to TWOV, and apparently could even enter the country and leave the airport to go to a hotel or whatever for < 12 hours per the information pasted above.
- Did not call you or the website on which you booked the flight. As the individual paying for the ticket, you are the person he should have immediately contacted, after he ran into trouble with Air Sinai at the airport. And immediately, you should have directed him to Timatic web to print out this info I have pasted above, and then and there advised the Air Sinai agent that they were incorrect and they would be creating a massive mess for everybody due to THEIR error and ultimately the airline would be held responsible for the mistake. Did he take the names of the agents and the supervisor who refused him entry? You state he was there for "hours". Did he not have access to a phone or the internet? Did you not give the passenger either the customer service number of the website to call in case of problems, OR your phone number, wherever you may have been?

Finally, kiwiandrew, I suggested that he should have carried something in writing, like you mentioned too. But as an ex-travel agent, seriously, wouldn't you have immediately hit up Timatic web on any of their 3 or 4 portals (KLM, Star A, United etc.)? There's absolutely no question word of mouth here - it's pretty much WYSIWYG and in this case clear as mud that there are no arcane logistical acrobatics required here - 'tiz rather open and shut to me that the passenger was/is allowed TWOV < 12h. Unfortunately, apparently not so clear to dd, kiwiandrew, the passenger, or the airline.

Please, people, check timatic web and take responsibility for meticulously understanding your visa requirements and carrying evidence of visa eligibility/waivers! I still can't believe in this day and age people don't have a clue when it comes to something this critical. And what is the most amazing part of it all... is that it's free! You just have to take literally 30 seconds to look for it. Yes, Israel is considered a "controversial" passport, but it doesn't matter - you could have a Canadian or Czech one and just as well have problems boarding a plane to Brunei or Burkina Faso. Everyone should just know that this stuff's important.

I suggest in this case the passenger provide a copy of the denied boarding stamp and the itinerary which evinces the < 12h cxn, and dd help him with presenting the FACTS to the website company where the flight was booked AND the airline to show the grievous error that transpired. Confirmation from timatic OR any Egyptian consular authority regarding the < 12h TWOV should also be furnished.

As I said, sorry this happened but it will take the collective efforts of between 3 and 5 parties to get this sorted out. Good luck.
gq_dq is offline  
Old Jun 7, 2013, 10:41 pm
  #4  
dd
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 334
i called the ticket issuing party (tripsta.ie) but it was after business hours on friday evening in europe, so they said they would need to wait until monday to contact the airline. i wanted to sort it out so we can get a new reconfirmed flight to japan and waiting until monday didn't seem like the best option.

yes, it was a mistake to not check the timatic website (i didn't even know it existed!) but now we know!!

i called ny because:

a. they were open when i needed to call
b. they speak english.
c. i can call free using google voice.

anyway, thanks for the detailed info. i have told my friend to go to the embassy in israel and get a letter saying that he is allowed to transit egypt for less than 12 hours without a visa and then return to the airport and present the proof to the agent/manager and request them to rebook him...

i am assuming that he will also be entitled to denial of boarding compensation if they admit fault.

thanks for the reply and i'll update when i have some new info.
dd is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2013, 12:35 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Zealand
Programs: NZ , QF , MK
Posts: 1,372
Thanks gq_dq,

That was very informative. I should clarify that I have been out of the retail travel industry for a VERY long time. I didn't mention Timatic because I would have sworn that back in my day, there was no easy avenue for a layperson to access it. We used to pull the information up through the GDS.

The only other reservation I have about Timatic stems back to my days of training retail agents. I used to have to hammer into them "Don't stop reading, just because you have found the information you wanted - keep reading right until the very end of the entry, even if you need to 'page down' a few times." it was often the stuff right near the end of the entry that would trip them up - I remember a few rather expensive ( for us) cases where we had agents who confirmed, in writing, that their passengers were 'fine' without a visa....and of course they turned out to be one of the 'except.....' listed way down in the Timatic entry.

dd - I am glad to that you have confirmation now that your friend did comply with the visa requirements. I hope that they get a satisfactory outcome.
kiwiandrew is offline  
Old Jun 8, 2013, 4:50 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 575
Hi dd - great, happy to help. I hope that it all works out positively and the airline's staff turn out to be reasonable individuals who understand that this was just an oversight on their part and that they need to do all they can to quickly resolve the situation and get your friend to Kansai. As a sailor would say, "ship happens", so hopefully the passenger can just relax over the weekend and can still travel to see you early next week.

Hi kiwiandrew -- I know what you mean - in days of yore, it probably was a DOS based screen with alien-style flickering green characters and boy was that a fun medium in which to search for detailed and specific information. You're right, visa rules have so many nebulous nuances and exceptions to hunt for that sometimes the consulates themselves get it wrong!! - I can tell you that on more than one occasion a consulate has provided information which conflicts with Timatic itself. Normally, discrepancies are just minor (e.g. in this case - can he leave the airport < 12h, or can he not... and the NY Consulate and Timatic don't agree on that) but generally speaking Timatic's pretty reliable.

I will say however, that even Timatic is not perfect - did you know that someone who needs a Schengen visa to visit the Schengen space in Europe, cannot technically use it for travel to Greenland and the Faroe Islands?!!! If you try Timatic, it returns
NOT IN AIRPORT OR CITY TABLE GL
CORRECT AND REENTER.

In this case one has to check with a consulate of Denmark, which although is itself in Schengen space for which the Schengen visa is valid, has special requirements for some of its dependencies and territories. And then again, while there MAY ultimately be no passport control to fly from Denmark to Greenland, the airport agent may refuse to board the individual if they are aware of this absolutely obscure nuance!
gq_dq is offline  

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