Fly for free on Swiss to Europe and get a 300$ travel voucher on top

Old Apr 9, 19, 6:06 am
  #1  
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Fly for free on Swiss to Europe and get a 300$ travel voucher on top

Not entirely serious title

Apparently an US-American women tried to enter Switzerland (flying from the US) without a legal travel documents (passport valid less than 90 days)

She was catched by the Kantonspolizei at ZRH, and since there was no further flights back to the US that day so she could get deported same-day, she was held till next morning, then sent back to the US.

If you can read German, a more dense version of the story can be found here:
https://www.20min.ch/schweiz/news/st...aftet-29911790

The original story from her advocacy is here: (long read)
https://www.elliott.org/blog/travel-...-denied-entry/

It's quite an interesting insight.

In the end, Swiss admitted partial fault and refunded the flight costs (through LH, where she booked the flight) + a travel voucher valued 300$

Personally, I think Swiss isn't among those airlines doing the most rigid checks on passport, and usually believes travellers (example: TWOV in China, never had issues when using Swiss, while other airlines were much harder to agree it's fine to fly like that) - this might change a bit after this case (probably not, though)

Just as a warning, always check passport validity. I'm planning to renew mine 6 months before it will expire, just to be double sure it's not causing any problems (if I don't have to do it before that due to running out of space, but that's a FT-only issue )
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Old Apr 9, 19, 7:43 am
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Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post
(if I don't have to do it before that due to running out of space, but that's a FT-only issue )
The title is very enticing but obviously not what LX wish for....

Even with paying UK GOV for extra pages mine runs out way before expiry
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Old Apr 9, 19, 2:50 pm
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Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post

Apparently an US-American women tried to enter Switzerland (flying from the US) without a legal travel documents (passport valid less than 90 days)

She was catched by the Kantonspolizei at ZRH, and since there was no further flights back to the US that day so she could get deported same-day, she was held till next morning, then sent back to the US.
To deport a tourist because he/she lacks a few days of validity in her passport makes no sense, and I fail to see any reasonnable grounds to do so, except to rigidly apply bureaucratic rules. There is no public interest for the Kantonspolizei to do so.

In addition, such behaviour towards tourists and business travellers reminds me the practices of corrupt official in corrupt countries, though I am not disputing that the Kantonspolizei was applying the rules here.

As a Swiss citizen, I believe that my tax money would be better used for other tasks, among others to assist tourists, rather than to deport them.
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Old Apr 9, 19, 3:38 pm
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Funny, I learned about this rule in February. While I travel internationally regularly, I apparently had never heard of the 90 day policy, so when I went to check in for my flight, Swiss (correctly) wouldn't let me finish checking in / board. They pro-actively rebooked me for the following night's flight and I managed to get a same-day passport the next morning.

My only complaint towards Swiss is that I entered all my passport information weeks before in preparation for the trip (e.g. passport number, issuing country, expiration date) yet there were no warning issued at the time on the website. I can't imagine it would be that difficult to cross-reference this and provide the passenger a warning at the very least! Would save everyone a headache and a few dollars.

In case you're wondering, I was one day late to my ski trip but still arrived ahead of a good storm, so all is well that ends well!
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Old Apr 9, 19, 3:44 pm
  #5  
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Interesting story. I didn't realize Swiss are sticklers of this rule. Beware that TLV is very strict about 6 month validity rules, not even by one day.
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Old Apr 9, 19, 6:31 pm
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Originally Posted by TerryK View Post
Interesting story. I didn't realize Swiss are sticklers of this rule. Beware that TLV is very strict about 6 month validity rules, not even by one day.
Like the US.
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Old Apr 9, 19, 7:00 pm
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Originally Posted by TerryK View Post
Interesting story. I didn't realize Swiss are sticklers of this rule. Beware that TLV is very strict about 6 month validity rules, not even by one day.
Swiss border police have always been amongst the most bureaucratic in my experience. Back when I needed to get stamps for Schengen entry and exit, I still remember Switzerland being the only place where they would look through all of my recent Schengen stamps and calculate the time I had spent within the Schengen area.

As far as the story goes though, the individual in question has presumably had a passport for at least just under 10 years, so by now, I would say she should know better than to not look up the required travel documentation. Actually find it rather irritating that she got a refund and voucher. The airline is not responsible for me having the proper travel documentation for my trips. If this represented some recent change in the rules, I would be more sympathetic, but it isn't. Honestly, for Americans, it is very easy to go to travel.state.gov for such advice.
Under Travelling in Europe, they say,
Because many Schengen countries assume that all travelers will stay for the full three months allowed for visa-free visitors, we recommend the following:

PASSPORT
  • Have at least six-month’s validity remaining on your passport whenever you travel abroad.
  • Check the expiration date on your passport carefully before traveling to Europe – especially children’s passports, which are valid five years, not 10 years like those issued to U.S. citizens aged 16 and older.
  • Carry your passport when traveling to another country in the Schengen area. Even if there is no border check at that time, officials may reinstate border controls without notice.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 12:39 am
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To those who commented that "Switzerland shouldn't be so strict". Seriously, guys?

Do you think that ANYWHERE (maybe besides some countries in Africa where you could "discuss things".. or Italy ..) in the world you would be let in without a valid passport? Yes, you can argue that her passport was still valid, but rules are rules and 90 days are 90 days.

On my former passport, I've entered Singapore with about 5 days "extra" validity over minimum validity and they gave me an extremely hard time (despite, obviously, being able to provide documents of my return flight, and a history of 50+ visits without any overstay or other violations) till accepting it. And that was all along the rules!

You'll NOT have success on a passport that's having less validity than what the rules say. Full stop. Call it bureaucratic, call it pendantic, but that's what boarder patrol is.

Try something like that in Australia, NZ, China, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, Russia, the US, Brazil: The outcome will always be the same: Deportation back to the country you're coming from. And in some cases even a (rather massive) fine to the airline.

Swiss did probably refund (and even added the voucher) because they know their process on checking passport validity is, at best, flawed. It's ultimately still on the travellers responsibility to check his/her documents are OK to travel, but airlines should take whatever they can not to let anyone fly without proper documents. Which is something LX clearly failed here.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 2:34 am
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Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post
To those who commented that "Switzerland shouldn't be so strict". Seriously, guys?

Do you think that ANYWHERE (maybe besides some countries in Africa where you could "discuss things".. or Italy ..) in the world you would be let in without a valid passport? Yes, you can argue that her passport was still valid, but rules are rules and 90 days are 90 days.
I am not disputing that other (most) countries unfortunately apply rules without any judgement. But the Kantonspolizei is a small unit of well paid and well trained police which could apply some judgement for those types of issues. Swiss tourism is struggling because of the strength of the Swiss franc and the high cost of living. Hence, more than in any other country, tourists should be welcomed by all means, even by the immigration authorities.

The focus of the Kantonspolizei should be to prevent illegal immigration and threats to security, which was obvioulsy not the case here.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 2:37 am
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Originally Posted by BOSskier View Post
Funny, I learned about this rule in February. While I travel internationally regularly, I apparently had never heard of the 90 day policy, so when I went to check in for my flight, Swiss (correctly) wouldn't let me finish checking in / board. They pro-actively rebooked me for the following night's flight and I managed to get a same-day passport the next morning.

My only complaint towards Swiss is that I entered all my passport information weeks before in preparation for the trip (e.g. passport number, issuing country, expiration date) yet there were no warning issued at the time on the website. I can't imagine it would be that difficult to cross-reference this and provide the passenger a warning at the very least! Would save everyone a headache and a few dollars.

In case you're wondering, I was one day late to my ski trip but still arrived ahead of a good storm, so all is well that ends well!
I would also expect such a validity check being implemented in an IT system in 2019, but then we are dealing with LH/LX IT...

Originally Posted by YuropFlyer View Post
To those who commented that "Switzerland shouldn't be so strict". Seriously, guys?

Do you think that ANYWHERE (maybe besides some countries in Africa where you could "discuss things".. or Italy ..) in the world you would be let in without a valid passport? Yes, you can argue that her passport was still valid, but rules are rules and 90 days are 90 days.

On my former passport, I've entered Singapore with about 5 days "extra" validity over minimum validity and they gave me an extremely hard time (despite, obviously, being able to provide documents of my return flight, and a history of 50+ visits without any overstay or other violations) till accepting it. And that was all along the rules!

You'll NOT have success on a passport that's having less validity than what the rules say. Full stop. Call it bureaucratic, call it pendantic, but that's what boarder patrol is.

Try something like that in Australia, NZ, China, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, Russia, the US, Brazil: The outcome will always be the same: Deportation back to the country you're coming from. And in some cases even a (rather massive) fine to the airline.

Swiss did probably refund (and even added the voucher) because they know their process on checking passport validity is, at best, flawed. It's ultimately still on the travellers responsibility to check his/her documents are OK to travel, but airlines should take whatever they can not to let anyone fly without proper documents. Which is something LX clearly failed here.
I would add Canada to the list of countries mentioned above, and I agree 100% with the statement above. Just keep in mind all the hassle trying to enter some of the countries mentioned above. I have a feeling that the Schengen countries have been lenient, but if there are hoops others make us jump through, I think we should stick to our rules as well. See ETIAS: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/etias/
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Old Apr 10, 19, 2:46 am
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The interweb is full of stories of disgruntled American citizens that travelled to Europe/Schengen and were surprised to be turned back because their passport was not signed or not valid for x days.

The State department clearly says to its citizen planning to travel to Germany & Switzerland:
https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...itzerland.html
https://travel.state.gov/content/tra...s/Germany.html

PASSPORT VALIDITY:
Six months beyond planned date of departure from the Schengen area
Its amazing how much flexibility is expected of other countries US agents have no issues sending people back on the same plane for far more minor issues and passengers have no recourse whatsoever.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 4:11 am
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Any deportation of tourists for non significant documentary issues is to be blamed, anywhere in the world.

But as a Swiss citizen and resident, I expect more judgement and humanity from our small cantonal police forces than the US immigration services among others. And even the US immigration services are improving. The waiting times are dramatically decreasing and the formalities less cumbersome (not more forms to fill in upon arrival). In addition, I often encounter friendly officers (when I get a cross on my ESTA receipt). Upon on of my recent visits, the officer even spoke French to me.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 4:12 am
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I was denied boarding at the gate with the document check in ZRH on my flight to JFK because and I quote "Your passport isn't old but also not young enough to be trustworthy". Apparently there was a very specific small timeframe of Swiss passports that were exempted of not requiring a visa to enter the US. And this was exactly the case for my passport. Furthermore I was on some watchlist or something. (Don't ask). I had to make an emergency visa and show up at the US embacy in Bern only three hours after I had missed my flight in Zurich and bring a ton of documents including the last 6 months of my bank account histary, a hand written page explaining why I wanted to enter the US, an "emergency" visa application form, another EFTA document filed out, my most recent school report cards and a testimony of the school that I was actually going to school there and more I can't remember now. And keep in mind I was about 16 at the time...

The second story I have is when I went to London and realized my ID card had expired and my passport was only a few days before expiring (It would expire before my return flight). Funnily I had no problems entering the UK at all and on my return they didn't even realize the passport had expired (there was no real passport control somehow...). That's when I learnt from the Swiss embassy that you need to be allowed to return to Switzerland even with a 20 year old expired passport...

Point of this post: I've encountered these issues twice and I have learnt my lesson. I renew my passport 6 month before it expires and always double check the entry requirements for the countries I visit. I don't have much empathy for people that fail to do that (just as I only blame myself for my mishaps).
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Old Apr 10, 19, 4:52 am
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Originally Posted by Nick Art View Post
The second story I have is when I went to London and realized my ID card had expired and my passport was only a few days before expiring (It would expire before my return flight). Funnily I had no problems entering the UK at all and on my return they didn't even realize the passport had expired (there was no real passport control somehow...). That's when I learnt from the Swiss embassy that you need to be allowed to return to Switzerland even with a 20 year old expired passport...
Returning to your home country is always easier and the country you hold citizenship is much more lenient, compared you the scenario when you are trying to enter another country / region (such as Schengen) where you are visiting and don't hold that particular passport.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Nic33 View Post
And even the US immigration services are improving. The waiting times are dramatically decreasing and the formalities less cumbersome (not more forms to fill in upon arrival). .
Going even more OT, but have you been to IAD recently?

HON/F staff apologetic that they aren’t allowed to help when dropping off pax at the immigration queues. Was the first in queue off LH418 and timed it: 115 minutes.

Mind you, as I was about half way to the immigration desks, the queue was about double what it had been when I arrived. For those who know IAD, all the way up on the mezzanine level.

Warm welcome to the capital of the US.

On the upside, bagage was waiting next to the carrousel by the time I got through immigration.
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