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-   -   How does flying standby work with customs? (https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travelbuzz/1370483-how-does-flying-standby-work-customs.html)

StevenSeagalFan Jul 25, 12 2:10 am

How does flying standby work with customs?
 
Hey,

Sorry in advance if this is the wrong place.

My question, if I'm flying standby to another country (from the US in my case) how does it work with customs? Don't I have to show proof of a return trip? When flying standby I can't always get a boarding pass for the way back (domestically at least).

I am naive when it comes to international travel so I appreciate the help.

LizzyDragon84 Jul 25, 12 3:15 am

I've flown non-rev internationally a few times. With customs, I haven't been asked to show proof of return- they just want to know how long I intend to stay in the country. If for some reason they did ask, I could show them e-mails indicating I intend to fly standby on a particular flight.

To keep things simple, I would not mention that you're flying standby unless an official asks you for more details about your travel arrangements. It varies by country, but most just want to know you're not going to overstay , stamp your passport and wave you on.

B747-437B Jul 25, 12 3:16 am

Depends on the destination country. Most countries are quite co-operative and accommodating with standby travelers (especially airline staff on vacation), but a handful can be real PITAs.

I've non-revved to over 50 countries over the last 30 years and the only issues I have had with this were in South Africa, Qatar and Thailand.

bkflowermound Jul 25, 12 4:51 am


Originally Posted by StevenSeagalFan (Post 18997222)
Hey,

Sorry in advance if this is the wrong place.

My question, if I'm flying standby to another country (from the US in my case) how does it work with customs? Don't I have to show proof of a return trip? When flying standby I can't always get a boarding pass for the way back (domestically at least).

I am naive when it comes to international travel so I appreciate the help.

Are you flying non-rev as an airline employee or on a buddy pass? If so, you could get a print out of what the two airlines I worked for called "the meal list" showing your return flight. The meal listing can be changed as the flight gets closer.

Technically, this isn't a customs issue, it's an immigration issue. The immigration agent for the country your going to would be trying to determine if you qualify for the visa waiver program in effect for travelers to that country. I've never been asked to show a return ticket when traveling internationally. Where are you going?

StevenSeagalFan Jul 25, 12 12:28 pm

I'm an airline employee looking to travel to South Africa.

UnitedFlyGuy Jul 25, 12 8:53 pm


Originally Posted by StevenSeagalFan (Post 18999890)
I'm an airline employee looking to travel to South Africa.

Your airline travel department will have all the answers. I've only been given a hard time once and it was at the infamous LHR.

BDA shorts Jul 25, 12 9:33 pm

This brings up a related question that I finally found the answer to a few days ago: What happens when, after you pass exit immigration, you get bumped off a flight and won't fly again until the next day?

In my case in UIO they had to bring me back to immigration where they took my passport to an office and canceled the stamp, then I exited again the next day without a problem.

In YUL they don't have exit controls but they do have US pre-clearance. A few years ago I went through US immigration, got bumped off my flight, had to go through Canadian customs to get to the check-in counter of the other airline, then had to go through US pre-clearance again--and by their questions it was clear that their system didn't show me "entering" the US an hour previously.

cascade Jul 28, 12 10:56 am

I've never had to show proof of return, and I have traveled internationally extensively on non-rev.

Bwillis Jul 28, 12 12:43 pm

If you don't have paper tickets ( Zed fare ) print a copy of your itinerary which should show your PNR/ locater number.
I've never been to S. Africa so I'm no help there.
Go on nonrev.net and ask on the Africa forum if anyone has had immigration problems .

Get backup tickets on another carrier !

B747-437B Jul 28, 12 2:30 pm

South Africa is one of the few countries that have been known to be major PITAs to non-revs on rare occasions.

I've non-revved into South Africa more times than I can remember and have never had a problem personally. However, I also served a few months as my former employer's station manager in Johannesburg back in 2006-2007 and saw enough antics of SA Immigration to last a lifetime.

The most common issue that some SA immigration people raise with non-revs is the requirement for a return ticket. Please ensure that you have a TICKET issued (ticket numbers in case of ZEDs or some sort of numbered authority in case of ticketless travel). Simply a meal listing with no backing documentation is what causes a problem. I've had to generate dozens of these for non-revs held up at immigration so that the jobsworth would let them in.

My worst experience with SA immigration involved an on-duty crew that had just flown a 767 full of passengers in to Johannesburg. I got a call from a panicky handling agent at around 6am asking me to rush to the airport and meet with immigration as there was a problem with the crew. So I did. The problem? Some moronic junior immigration officer decided to ask the on-duty crew for their return tickets. Obviously they didn't have any. Accordingly, he denied them entry. He claimed that the regulations had no exceptions listed for on-duty crew. It took about 30 minutes of phonecalls and escalations to managers before they finally agreed to let the crew head off to their hotel.

Never underestimate just how ridiculous South African bureaucracy can get (and how righteous they can pretend to be while doing that).

StevenSeagalFan Jul 28, 12 2:43 pm

Wow.

As for where you're staying does that bother SA customs as well?

I won't be staying at a hotel, I'll be staying at the house of a friend of mine, who happens to be a rather popular SA celebrity.

B747-437B Jul 28, 12 2:46 pm


Originally Posted by StevenSeagalFan (Post 19018862)
As for where you're staying does that bother SA customs as well? I won't be staying at a hotel, I'll be staying at the house of a friend of mine, who happens to be a rather popular SA celebrity.

They really can't be bothered about anything other than that your paperwork is in order.

You could tell them that you were coming in with the intention to peddle drugs, assassinate the President and burn down Ellis Park. They will let you in if you had a return ticket and two empty pages in your passport.

99% of people don't have any issues and to be fair, 90% of the SA Immigration folks are decent people doing their jobs. The 10% of morons give the 1% of passengers enough headaches to make up for the rest.


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