Denied boarding by Lufthansa

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Mar 25, 2018
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Hello,

I'm an Indian living and working in the US. I had a round trip ticket from US to India for me and my wife (who is a US citizen). This trip had a short layover in Frankfurt airport (~2hrs). When I was leaving the US, my work visa stamped on my passport was expired. But my visa was approved and I was still on a valid visa while in the US (and I had that documentation I am allowed to stay and work in the US - so I was no overstaying). But the new visa was not stamped in my passport. I was travelling back home to get it stamped. Germany usually has a rule that certain nationals transiting through Germany need an Airport Transit Visa 'but' there are exclusions for Indians who have an expired Visa who are travelling back home. It's documented by German counsel here: https://uk.diplo.de/uk-en/02/visa/application/airport-transit-visa/503188
It's also written clearly by the German Mission in the US: https://www.germany.info/blob/917514/80e28ec8a47bb057c06ca4023b155842/airport-transit-country-list-data.pdf
So I clearly don't need a transit visa. In addition to this Lufthansa mentions that Indians need a transit/Schengen visa only if they have a two-hop flight through Europe. It's documented here: https://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/in/local?nodeid=3116855&l=en
So I went through all the rules and I clearly don't need an ATV (Airport transit Visa). In addition to this, when I checked in online there was a pop-up in the Lufthansa website that said, I should not leave the non-Schengen area of the airport as that requires a visa. So they knew my case pretty well.
I go to the airport on the day of my travel and this ticketing agent says he cannot let me board as he says I need a transit visa. I kept telling him about these rules and he clearly said I cannot go. He never cited the place where he was getting these rules but he said he knows the German law and he was certain I need a visa. At this point he didn't now show me where he got these rules from.
I could not delay my trip since I had other things planned after I landed in India, so I had to buy a one way ticket for me and my Wife through Amsterdam (it was the closest on that had same ETA as the original ticket). It ended up costing around $3500 for just one passenger. I bought a one-way ticket because the ticketing folks told me there is a chance I can keep my return leg. My credit card company contacted Lufthansa and initially they did agree to keep my return active. That's why I brought one way ticket from US to India and not a round trip. But couple of days after I went back home my travel agent told me that Lufthansa told them the return ticket is not valid. We kept pleading with Lufthansa to at least keep my return flight active but they didn't budge so I had to buy another one way flight from India back to US. Overall this trip ended up costing me >$10000. I contacted the airlines and told them they unfairly denied boarding. I also asked them to compensate me. Again they said I didn't have all necessary documents but never gave me proof about what I missed (or) where their rules about a transit visa came from.
I was told that I could hire a lawyer to take the legal route to get my money back. It was suggested I can get some help here.

I can provide relevant documentation to show that I had all travel documents with me when I started this trip and this monetary distress to me was caused completely by Lufthansa.
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
We have company contacts on top of our page. Read the first page that tells you how to use the lists to write. Then write to Lufthansa starting at Customer Service and moving up weekly to the executives as we advise.

Let us know the outcome.
 
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Dwayne Coward

Administrator
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Apr 13, 2016
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St. Louis
I see the contradictory information, provided in the German Mission document from April 2017. You may want to contact the German Mission to see if that information was still current as of your travel date. Per the Lufthansa website and Schengen website, it appears the exception to the airport transit visa requires an unexpired US visa.

The airlines normally use a program with information provided by the various countries immigrations to determine what international documentation that is required on the actual date of flight. Deviating from that information and allowing you to travel would open them up to being fined by the country. If the German mission does provide a written statement that you should have been allowed to transit without the visa, then you should send that to Lufthansa with your request for a refund.
 
Mar 25, 2018
3
0
37
Thank you for this information. Is that Schengen visa website owned by any government? There appears to be a lot of ads in that website.

The following two websites (one operated by german government and the other one german mission in US) both appear to say I can travel on an expired visa:
- -
I see the contradictory information, provided in the German Mission document from April 2017. You may want to contact the German Mission to see if that information was still current as of your travel date. Per the Lufthansa website and Schengen website, it appears the exception to the airport transit visa requires an unexpired US visa.

The airlines normally use a program with information provided by the various countries immigrations to determine what international documentation that is required on the actual date of flight. Deviating from that information and allowing you to travel would open them up to being fined by the country. If the German mission does provide a written statement that you should have been allowed to transit without the visa, then you should send that to Lufthansa with your request for a refund.
 
Mar 25, 2018
3
0
37
We have company contacts on top of our page. Read the first page that tells you how to use the lists to write. Then write to Lufthansa starting at Customer Service and moving up weekly to the executives as we advise.

Let us know the outcome.

Thank you. I already contacted Lufthansa customer service. They called me and asked me about this. I told them about the whole incident and I also asked them to read all the documents I attached stating I didn't need an airport transit visa. I asked them why they felt I didn't have all the required documentation and where they are getting these rules from. The guy at the other end said he will call me back but then sent me an email stating:

"Customers are responsible for having all the required documentation and they cannot bear any of the consequences".

I reached out to them again and asked them why they felt I didn't have necessary documents as I attached enough proof that I didn't need a transit visa. I did not get any response.

I'll reach out to the contacts provided in this forum. This is super helpful!
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Forum Director
Apr 13, 2016
1,116
2,422
St. Louis
Thank you for this information. Is that Schengen visa website owned by any government? There appears to be a lot of ads in that website.

The following two websites (one operated by german government and the other one german mission in US) both appear to say I can travel on an expired visa:
-
https://uk.diplo.de/uk-en/02/visa/application/airport-transit-visa/503188
-
https://www.germany.info/blob/917514/80e28ec8a47bb057c06ca4023b155842/airport-transit-country-list-data.pdf

Good point. The Schengen agreement is actually multinational. Finding one source for it is not very easy. Here is a link to the European Union site, which also states you need a valid visa from the US: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/w...ers-and-visas/visa-policy/apply_for_a_visa_en

Along with this documented dated Jan 2018: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/sites/homeaffairs/files/annex_7b_atv-national_lists_en.pdf

Also, this information from the German Mission in India:

http://www.india.diplo.de/Vertretung/indien/en/06__Consu__Visa/visa__new/SCHENGEN/SCHENGEN__VAC.html which provides a link to this document:

http://www.india.diplo.de/contentblob/4002756/Daten/7666266/airport_transit.pdf

Since there is contradictory information, to have any chance of success, you will need to have the German mission/embassy provide you a statement stating that on the date of flight, you had the proper documentation to transit Frankfurt without applying for an Airport Transit Visa. Otherwise, Lufthansa is probably just going to insist that their information was the most current.

The end result is that it is your responsibility to make sure you have the proper documentation for travel. Relying on any website to tell you, may work in most cases, but there is no guarantee it is the most current information. In the end, you probably should always contact the countries embassy to get an official response, especially with contradictory information such as you have found (airline website vs the German mission)
 
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