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Denied boarding because didn't have Visa for China, though only connecting there.

Denied boarding because didn't have Visa for China, though only connecting there.

Old Jun 17, 14, 7:18 pm
  #46  
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
Anticipating every mistake by United exceeds the ability of even the most seasoned traveler. But I am sure that you never get messed over by anyone, because you are perfect, right? Geeze.
Regarding the visa, the only "proof" OP had was the TA's word about it. If I was in the OP shoes, when UA agent refused me because I didn't have a visa, I would use my phone to check online at the counter to make sure who was wrong - my TA or the UA agent.

And I always try to check everything possible because I was messed before. It doesn't assure I won't have problems, but it helps to minimize them.


Originally Posted by exerda View Post
Wow, can't believe the continual berating of first-time posters for "you should have been prepared" or "you should have known the rules." Hey, UA was 100% in the wrong on this one, with the visa requirements, the law, and everything.
It's about me, right?

I never wrote UA was right. I just wrote he should have prepared himself better for a "one in a lifetime trip" (his words). For me, it is checking everything possible.

His TA was right, but it seems that his TA just told him the visa wasn't necessary, with no further explanations. When UA told him he needs a visa, he had nothing to argue with UA personnel, he has only "my TA told me I don't need it". And it's why I asked why he didn't use his phone to check online at the counter about the visa requirements. It could help him take the plane.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 7:24 pm
  #47  
 
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Originally Posted by HMO View Post
It's about me, right?

I never wrote UA was right. I just wrote he should have prepared himself better for a "one in a lifetime trip" (his words). For me, it is checking everything possible.

His TA was right, but it seems that his TA just told him the visa wasn't necessary, with no further explanations. When UA told him he needs a visa, he had nothing to argue with UA personnel, he has only "my TA told me I don't need it". And it's why I asked why he didn't use his phone to check online at the counter about the visa requirements. It could help him take the plane.
Ah yes, nothing like the good old hindsight "check everything possible" that really means "check the thing that in hindsight it looks like you should have checked."

Checking literally "everything possible" is such a silly idea. It would take more than the 330 days that, at the most, lead up to a trip. Should he have checked the daily traffic patterns to the airport on both sides and planned alternative routes? Checked hearing records for local municipal planning authorities to see if there was a remote possibility that a public works project or labor dispute might cause issues during the trip? How about checking the filed flight route for hot-spots of cosmic radiation?

How unbelievably silly. OP possesses exactly 0.000000% of the blame for this.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 7:29 pm
  #48  
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Sorry to pop some of you posters bubbles, but not everyone has a smartphone. I still see lots of old flip phones and basic phones with no internet.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 7:41 pm
  #49  
 
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OP: I am very sorry this happened to you. UA seems to have made a number of mistakes. For most of us here on FT who travel a lot, we forgot that infrequent travellers can be quite lost on international journeys, especially if transiting an unfamiliar airport.
You can stay in certain major Chinese cities without a visa for up to 72 hours when you are IN TRANSIT to a third country. You cannot just visit for 72 hours, even as a business trip.
But, that doesn't apply here since they were transiting. Actually, it should be "especially as a business trip" since Chinese visas for business are even more complicated (I lived in China for a number of years and go back once/twice a year now on business).
BTW, OP may be a female (OP says "and my boyfriend"). UA was totally wrong here. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to try to travel to SFO where the UA staff would, most likely, know the rules better. I don't know why UA would not have re-routed on their own flights once they admitted a mistake on their part. Also, BTW, I don't have a smart phone (my old flip phone is furnished by the government - your tax money at work ).
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Old Jun 17, 14, 7:47 pm
  #50  
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I would say this is the kind of the story the media likes. So, go to one of those TV, WSJ or USA Today's consumer/travel reporter if you can't get a satisfactory apology and compensation from UA.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 7:54 pm
  #51  
 
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
This isn't quite accurate. You can stay in certain major Chinese cities without a visa for up to 72 hours (slightly different for CAN) when you are IN TRANSIT to a third country. You cannot just visit for 72 hours, even as a business trip.
Who's going to have a 72hr layover where you can't leave the airport ? (well other than when UA strands you there after canceling the flight for 3 days in a row..., here's the actual situation:

In order to facilitate the international visitors’ short stay for sightseeing in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing, these cities adopt a visa-free transit policy in 2013, which allows transit passengers with passport of the following 51 countries to stay for up to 72 hours without visa on direct transit via Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Hongqiao Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu Airport and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport.

From January 1st, 2014, Shenyang and Dalian had also adopted this free transit policy for passengers from following 51 countries traveling via Shenyang Taoxian Internatioanl Airport and Dalian International Airport. Besides, Xian introduced this free transit policy from June 1st, 2014, and passengers can enjoy the same privilege while transiting via Xian Xianyang International Airport.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 7:55 pm
  #52  
 
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You are owed a full refund ( if you choose ) of the airfare paid , or a reschedule at a time convenient to you . I would also say you are also owed reasonable damages as a result of UA's actions

But I would go a step further and insist that the employee that denied you boarding be put on reprimand some how and that united put in place some kind of program to retrain employees . We can start with how to use TIMATIC and how to interpret the results . I would settle for no less. This is how to run an international airline 101. Just unbelievable

I am so sick and tired of over zealous UA employees ( mostly exCO) that decide to then recheck people's visa and passport requirements at the gate , after they have been checked at checkin . The check in agent does a very detailed check of your passport and visa then issues you a boarding pass

If you fail this check, you are not given a boarding pass. . On most civilized airlines , Lufthansa and AA for example , the word "DOCS OK" is printed on the boarding pass.

UA has a very haphazard system that is unique to UA. The timatic check happens at check in . The agent has to manually interpret the results , then you are given a boarding pass. Another check happens at the gate , often by a gate agent who is under pressure to board the plane , and done away from the podium. Almost all airlines do this check once , UA checks this twice . The gate employee is supposed to then walk you to the podium, do a TIMATIC check again , and decide whether or not to board you. Of course this depends on whether the employee knows how to do this , and how to read timatic and enter all the fields correctly . This is essentially repeating everything already done at check in.

I sometimes travel with another non us passport , the second check throws UA off, and delays boarding . I am generally someone that can't be pushed over and know my facts , the agent then rechecks my docs again ( for what reason who knows ) and let's me in . Duh - did my docs change somehow between check in and boarding ?

I argue that UA should be responsible mainly due to
1- UA not investing the time and care to train their employees . ( if they did , this would not have happened )

2- UA having poor procedures, in particular the second redundant check . Most airlines will print the word "docs ok" on the bp and visa requirements are checked at check in , once . UA tries to do this twice with poor results and poorly executed. If you are not going to provide the same level of training that a senior check in agent has to a person that boards the flight , you can't expect the person who boards the flight to perform the same function. If the gate agent doing the second redundant check knew the procedures , OP would have boarded the flight . Why do this stupid second check anyway ? Most airlines check this once.

As as result of 1 and 2 UA denied op boarding and ruined the trip .


Be sure to mention UA's lax in training , poor procedures ( that second redundant check ) and uninformed employees .


I would also see if you can lodge an official complaint also with the Chinese authorities. If UA can't properly process air china's flights how can they be trusted ?

UA will kowtow to the Chinese authorities to get the best take off and landing slots, at very prime times ( granted most of these were inherited) . It's about time someone raise a voice.

If UA can't properly handle china flights the slots should be given away to someone else
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:06 pm
  #53  
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If OP spends his time complaining about UA's procedures and demanding discipline of the counter agent, this all becomes a big "we're so sorry" note from UA.

OP actually lost something here and if OP wants to be made whole, the way to do that is to focus on OP's situation, not on non-expert snark which never gets anywhere.

I also agree that threatening a lawsuit is a terrible idea. If OP is going to sue, then sue. People who threaten don't.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:08 pm
  #54  
 
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OP, welcome to FT! Sorry about your experience.

It is 100% UA fault - you are owed full refund and damages related to rebooking.
File with BBB, post on social media and if UA does not respond ultimately take them to court.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:12 pm
  #55  
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While everybody jumps on UA (rightly so) I'd also tell the OP to smack his travel agent around. Why that kind of routing? You can fly through Taipei and connect to a Cebu Direct flight. Or you can go through Hawaii. Or Hong Kong. Seems like an odd choice of routing.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:13 pm
  #56  
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Originally Posted by HMO View Post
His TA was right, but it seems that his TA just told him the visa wasn't necessary, with no further explanations. When UA told him he needs a visa, he had nothing to argue with UA personnel, he has only "my TA told me I don't need it". And it's why I asked why he didn't use his phone to check online at the counter about the visa requirements. It could help him take the plane.
Why should the TA say, "You don't need a visa, and oh, by the way, if United tells you that you do, be aware you're transiting and need to refer them to TIMATIC or whatever?"

The OP's TA was 100% correct. The OP did not need a visa, full stop. Everything else was UA's fault.


Originally Posted by FoxFlyer View Post
But it was scary to see that the agents really may have no way to override the system in a case like the OPs... if the computer says you need it, they can't check you in (even if you are just transiting or on a 24-72 hour layover).
I suspect there's a way to override, but not all agents are trained in, aware of, or empowered to do so. And it's not just SHARES, because I've had a situation on US where the GA didn't know how to handle the problem, but called his help desk who did so in less than a minute. Good luck getting a UA agent to do the same...
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:18 pm
  #57  
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Originally Posted by relangford View Post
OP: I am very sorry this happened to you. UA seems to have made a number of mistakes. For most of us here on FT who travel a lot, we forgot that infrequent travellers can be quite lost on international journeys, especially if transiting an unfamiliar airport.But, that doesn't apply here since they were transiting. Actually, it should be "especially as a business trip" since Chinese visas for business are even more complicated (I lived in China for a number of years and go back once/twice a year now on business).
BTW, OP may be a female (OP says "and my boyfriend"). UA was totally wrong here. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to try to travel to SFO where the UA staff would, most likely, know the rules better. I don't know why UA would not have re-routed on their own flights once they admitted a mistake on their part. Also, BTW, I don't have a smart phone (my old flip phone is furnished by the government - your tax money at work ).
My post was an attempt to correct the post I quoted that asserted that USA citizens, for example, can visit China for up to 72 hours without a visa. The point is that your stay in China without a visa must be a genuine transit, i.e., USA to China to third country to USA or USA to other country to China to USA. Just traveling USA to China and return does NOT qualitfy for YWOV because it is not TRANSIT.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:20 pm
  #58  
 
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Based on my experience, this may due to the fact that in *A mixed-carrier reservation, only one other carrier flight (the connecting flight) is listed in the other carrier record. For example, when I flew ORD-FRA-ICN(LH)-TPE(OZ)-SUB(BR) on a 016 award ticket, the LH record only contain flights up to TPE which I need a visa to enter. After learning that my final destination is Indonesia, the LH check-in agent in ORD still could not check me in without a supervisor override, because the "final" destination in LH record is TPE.

It is possible that in this case, the last segment shown in their UA records is the CA segment to PEK. However, I am amazed at the UA agents' refusal to think and further help their passengers. They do need more training!

Last edited by andryas; Jun 17, 14 at 8:24 pm Reason: accuracy
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:21 pm
  #59  
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Originally Posted by CO_Nonrev_elite View Post
Who's going to have a 72hr layover where you can't leave the airport ? (well other than when UA strands you there after canceling the flight for 3 days in a row..., here's the actual situation:

In order to facilitate the international visitors’ short stay for sightseeing in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing, these cities adopt a visa-free transit policy in 2013, which allows transit passengers with passport of the following 51 countries to stay for up to 72 hours without visa on direct transit via Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Hongqiao Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu Airport and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport.

From January 1st, 2014, Shenyang and Dalian had also adopted this free transit policy for passengers from following 51 countries traveling via Shenyang Taoxian Internatioanl Airport and Dalian International Airport. Besides, Xian introduced this free transit policy from June 1st, 2014, and passengers can enjoy the same privilege while transiting via Xian Xianyang International Airport.
You can certainly leave the airport while doing TWOV in China. In fact, the official may ask where you are staying because you cannot leave the "city" where you enter China, although operationally this really just restricts you from checking into a hotel outside of the "city" where you enter and exit China during TWOV.
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Old Jun 17, 14, 8:26 pm
  #60  
 
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Here is the link to UAL.com website detailing Visa requirements that I have bookmarked on my cell phone for just this type of an encounter with a clueless UA agent.

https://www.united.com/web/en-US/app...aspx?i=TIMATIC
Basically, this is a form where you input City of Origin, City of Transit and City of Destination with arrival date and time information. The form returns your requirements. I believe it is linked to TIMATIC.

Just tried the link and the page now is blank. Great

Guess I now need an outside TIMATIC link.
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