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VISA Required for Final Leg, Can I start travel with UA while awaiting documents?

VISA Required for Final Leg, Can I start travel with UA while awaiting documents?

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Old May 28, 19, 8:43 am
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VISA Required for Final Leg, Can I start travel with UA while awaiting documents?

Hello, traveling IAH-FRA-PHC tomorrow morning. I have been promised VISA approval letter for Thursday morning, Nigeria time.
At checkin was not given a boarding pass, I assume this is for VISA verification.

My plan was to print the approval letter upon arrival Frankfurt for boarding for the flight to PHC. I would hope maybe they will allow me to board to Frankfurt, as I can show approval letter is forthcoming,if it doesn't come, my fault and I stay in Frankfurt.

Maybe agent discretion on whether I can board tomorrow?

Thanks
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Old May 28, 19, 8:54 am
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Presuming that you are travelling on one ticket and are connecting at FRA rather than stopping over, UA will likely deny you boarding at IAH unless to have proper documents for Nigeria in hand. You will not likely make it to FRA in the first place. A secondary question is whether you are required to have a visa as opposed to the approval letter itself.

UA can be quite decent about waiving change fees when a document problem develops and is addressed far enough in advance that the seat can be resold. You should likely consider postponing to Friday unless you can prevail upon the issuer to get you the letter today. If you do get it, be certain to print it out and do not rely on PDF's or other electronic versions.
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Old May 28, 19, 8:59 am
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When you check in in Houston the agent will check your docs for your final destination. I doubt they will have the discretion to allow you to board based on admissibility to the connecting point
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Old May 28, 19, 9:23 am
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Book a refundable connecting flight from PHC to, say, JNB, or to a country that doesn't require a visa. If you are just "transiting", you can get your boarding passes in IAH. But don't board the flight in FRA without the visa letter in hand...Lufthansa will get fined big time and that's not right.
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Old May 28, 19, 9:47 am
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Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
Book a refundable connecting flight from PHC to, say, JNB, or to a country that doesn't require a visa. If you are just "transiting", you can get your boarding passes in IAH. But don't board the flight in FRA without the visa letter in hand...Lufthansa will get fined big time and that's not right.
LH may also follow through on collecting both the fine and the cost of transporting the passenger back to FRA. More to the point, agents do not have discretion and that is why they can sometimes be harsher than border authorities.

If you purchase the JNB ticket, will Nigeria care that you are manifested as a transit passenger yet attempt entry?

Lastly, unless your onwards refundable ticket to JNB is fully refundable even after departure, you risk not being able to cancel in time if your arrival into PHC is delayed or you are unable to reach the carrier to cancel via phone or email prior to departure or inflight due to nonworking internet.
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Old May 28, 19, 10:41 am
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That is a good idea. Will go to the airport today as its on my way home and try to check in. Worst comes to worse, I won't board in Frankfurt and will hang out until the next day. Probably have to pay the change fee.
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Old May 28, 19, 10:53 am
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Originally Posted by MatthewLAX View Post
Book a refundable connecting flight from PHC to, say, JNB, or to a country that doesn't require a visa. If you are just "transiting", you can get your boarding passes in IAH. But don't board the flight in FRA without the visa letter in hand...Lufthansa will get fined big time and that's not right.
On 2nd thought, it appears a VISA is required for transit. Although some Nigeria websites say you can get one on arrival for flights within 48 hours....
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Old May 28, 19, 11:04 am
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What some website's state will not be UA's criteria, the agent will go by TIMATIC. There is no agent discretion -- fines are far too high.

UA's TIMATIC access for passengers

One thought would be to ask UA to split the ticket. Not a great chance of that happening but perhaps. Then deal with the issue in FRA before boarding. Note LH is not as flexible as UA on changing tickets.
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Old May 28, 19, 11:06 am
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
What most website's state will not be UA's criteria, the agent will go by TIMATIC. There is no agent discretion -- fines are far too high.

UA's TIMATIC access for passengers

One thought would be to ask UA to split the ticket. Not a great chance of that happening but perhaps. Then deal with the issue in FRA before boarding. Note LH is not as flexible as UA on changing tickets.
Wasn't there a website that you could go to and it would spit out the requirements? Nevermind saw your link was the site....
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Old May 28, 19, 11:11 am
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Before presuming that any segment can be changed, do a thorough review of the fare rules for this ticket. Most often a change will involve paying both a change fee and fare difference. For a close-in ticket, that can be very expensive.

That is why I come back to asking UA to push the departure by 2 days right now and remain in the US. UA can be quite accommodating at this point. LH will not be, especially dealings at the airport.
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Old May 28, 19, 11:33 am
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How to approach this depends entirely on the purpose/importance of your travel: is this an urgent business trip that can't be postponed, so you really need to rely on the Thursday AM visa letter? Or can you easily reschedule?

If the former, get your corporate travel desk to split this into two tickets: IAH-FRA, and FRA-PHC. If you don't get the visa, you can either return from FRA, or move the FRA-PHC flight back a day if the trip is still viable and spend the night in Frankfurt; this way, you'll be closer to PHC when the visa letter does come through. If this is important business travel, I'm assuming costs are not going to be a major factor.

If the latter, then take Often1's advice and work with UA to reschedule the whole thing now.
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Old May 28, 19, 12:20 pm
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I'm not entirely sure if it's relevant to the OPs case (given in mine we were as a guest of one of the host country's ministries) but a letter might work.

In the case I'm referring to I didn't need it thanks to a visa waiver for US citizens, but people not so lucky (I think we had 20 or so countries represented) were issued a letter signed and stamped by the country's top immigration official "to the relevant authorities concerned" that a visa would be issued to the individual named upon arrival, certifying no fines would be incurred, and offering a telephone number for verification.

I'd be nervous, but the potentially safest way would be to take everything to the original airport well in advance of the flight (previous day if still possible) and talk to a supervisor.
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Old May 28, 19, 12:24 pm
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That is the whole problem. OP says that he won't have his visa approval letter until Thursday AM and he is due to depart the US on Wednesday. The question arises as to whether UA will board him in the US without the visa approval letter and he won't have that until he arrives in FRA.
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Old May 28, 19, 12:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
That is the whole problem. OP says that he won't have his visa approval letter until Thursday AM and he is due to depart the US on Wednesday. The question arises as to whether UA will board him in the US without the visa approval letter and he won't have that until he arrives in FRA.
My bad; I thought he had the approval but was waiting on the actual visa... No documentation of approval ... Yeah. Id be nervous about starting a trip "assuming" approval; can't imagine an airline boarding on a wing and a prayer.
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Old May 28, 19, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by lincolnjkc View Post
My bad; I thought he had the approval but was waiting on the actual visa... No documentation of approval ... Yeah. Id be nervous about starting a trip "assuming" approval; can't imagine an airline boarding on a wing and a prayer.
Just so you are aware, and this is also in TIMATIC, Approval Letter is all that is required for travel. You get the VISA on arrival. My issue is I am awaiting approval letter via email.

Interestingly enough, if you put in NIGIERIA as transit point in TIMATIC onto another country, there is no requirement for VISA in TIMATIC.

Thanks,
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