Denied Boarding on Delta Fligh to China (Believe Gate Agent Erred)

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Dec 10, 2019
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#1
Hello everyone,

Here's my situation: Scheduled to travel from Seattle to Shanghai (specifically PVG) airport on
December 3, 2019, a Delta gate agent prohibited me from boarding the flight. Her justification: I
didn’t have a per-approved visa for entry into China. Because of her decision--which, I believe, was
incorrect (more on that below), I lost both my outgoing flight to Shanghai and the corresponding
Shanghai to Vancouver one way.

I have hyperlinked the Chinese embassy’s adoption of the 144 hour visa exemption. Applying
my particular fact pattern, I was scheduled to fly into Shanghai Pudong International Airport (an
approved airport). I also hail from one of the designated 53 countries (the United States) where
the 144-hour visa-free transit policy applies. In addition, I have a valid passport (expires in 2027)
and possess an onward air ticket to a third country (Canada) with a confirmed date (December
9) and seat (56 B on first flight; 19C on flight to Vancouver) within 144 hours upon arrival.
And, lastly, the Chinese embassy recommends passengers applying for the 144 hour visa
exemption have existing hotel reservations in Shanghai (I did--establishing proof that I would
stay within the approved port of entry). In sum, I satisfied all the prerequisites for the 144 hour
visa exemption.

When reaching out to Delta in the immediate aftermath, Delta has offered numerous reasons (I needed a
pre-approved visa, the United States and Canada are grouped together) for my boarding denial. If you are
staying in a designated city for less than 144 hours (Shanghai is included on the list of pre-approved cities),
you don’t need a pre-approved visa. In fact, you receive your visa at arrival at Chinese customs. In addition, my
separate one way (Shanghai to Vancouver) satisfies the conditions for the 144-hour visa free transit. According to
the Chinese embassy, "The policy applies for 144-hour visa-free transit rather than visa-free entry.
Therefore, the applicant should transit to a third country (region). Visitors returning to their
country of origin would not be eligible for this policy." The requirement--in plain English: you must
be leaving to a different country from which you arrived. Reaffirming the point, this travel site specifically
states "USA to China toCanada is OK. But Canada to China to Canada is not" for 144 transit visa eligibility.
With my USA to China to Canada itinerary, I should have been permitted to board.

Delta's response has been, in a word, underwhelming. They offered a partial refund (still out the SEA to PVG ticket)
and 10K miles. Considering this was an international flight, 10K miles is more symbolic than anything
(I mean, 10K miles might get me to SFO...on a good day). Anyway, I have reached out to Delta leadership via email
and LinkedIn but am still awaiting a response. I have also mailed a detailed letter to Delta headquarters. From my perspective,
reasonable compensation would be a full refund (including the outward Seattle to Shanghai portion)
and compensation to put me in the position I would have been, namely visiting Shanghai. This compensation can be
in the form of money, miles, or a combination of either.

Looking forward to reading responses. Have any of you encountered a similiar situation and, if so, how
was it resolved? Also, what strategies did you use for a favorable resolution?

Thanks,

Matt

Edited by a moderator to remove links that may contain malware.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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#2
The sites you link to are not government sites for either the United States, Canada, or China. In fact, the first link you provide comes up with a Virus Threat warning. Did you check the visa requirements with the US or Chinese Embassy websites? You need to get the requirements from the Embassy websites, not some third-party blogs.
 
May 30, 2019
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#4
Even based on the third-party blogs (that Norton won't block) that describe how they "best the system", the aim of the 144-hour visa appears to be for people in transit. Going from the US to PVG to Canada so quickly might not be in the spirit of the regulation. Was this a mileage run? Also, was your passport USA or CAN?
 
May 28, 2019
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#5
I’m not exactly sure why you were denied boarding based on the facts you’ve outlined. (For those who are unfamiliar with the 144-hour visa, here is a link outlining its parameters.) I’m assuming you showed them a copy of your hotel reservations? I’m baffled.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
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#6
I've already provided this to the OP. His outbound flight was a direct flight from the US and the onward flight was a direct flight to the US with a connection to Canada. I've had two other recent cases where individuals purchased separate tickets on different airlines that have caused them to be denied boarding to China with the TWOVs.


IATA.JPG
 
Jun 13, 2019
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#8
I've already provided this to the OP. His outbound flight was a direct flight from the US and the onward flight was a direct flight to the US with a connection to Canada. I've had two other recent cases where individuals purchased separate tickets on different airlines that have caused them to be denied boarding to China with the TWOVs.


View attachment 3169
I was about to ask about his itinerary as that was probably what caused the visa problem.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,745
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www.promalvacations.com
#9
Dwayne has given you your answer. It is the way you ticketed that caused the issue.

This is the definition of an onward ticket:


An onward ticket is a proof of a booked train, bus or airline ticket originating from the country about to be entered.
An onward ticket reflects any of these:
  • a round-trip airline ticket
  • an airline or train or bus ticket from one country to another
  • a one-way airline ticket to a country with an onward ticket requirement as a stop-over
 
May 1, 2018
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#10
His outbound flight was a direct flight from the US and the onward flight was a direct flight to the US with a connection to Canada.
Wow way to bury the lede OP! If it's true that your return flight had a layover in the US then it clearly breaks the rules of the TWOV policy and the Delta gate agent acted correctly in preventing you from boarding.
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#11
It is a "transit" visa. A trip from USA to China and back to Canada is an open jaw ticket and is regarded as a trip to Shanghai, not as a transit through Shanghai. There would have had to be a different termination on the outbound flight, with Shanghai as a stop on the way to that destination.
 
Dec 10, 2019
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#14
The plane stopped in SEA for an hour and a half before heading to Vancouver--which was my final destination. My goal was to fly PVG to YVR because I knew I had to comply with the third country rule outlined in the Chinese Embassy. With Seattle being a Delta hub, I had to touch down at SeaTac (whether I wanted to or not). The Chinese embassy language explicitly says "an onward ticket to a third country" (which I believe I complied with), adding that "Visitors returning to their country of origin would not be eligible for this policy." Considering I am flying through Seattle (again Delta hub) to get to YVR, my intent was not to return to my "country of origin." Understand why people may disagree...really wish Delta could have routed me through Hong Kong/ICN to Vancouver on one of its Sky Team partners. Would have been easier for both Delta and me...
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,745
20,324
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
The plane stopped in SEA for an hour and a half before heading to Vancouver--which was my final destination. My goal was to fly PVG to YVR because I knew I had to comply with the third country rule outlined in the Chinese Embassy. With Seattle being a Delta hub, I had to touch down at SeaTac (whether I wanted to or not). The Chinese embassy language explicitly says "an onward ticket to a third country" (which I believe I complied with), adding that "Visitors returning to their country of origin would not be eligible for this policy." Considering I am flying through Seattle (again Delta hub) to get to YVR, my intent was not to return to my "country of origin." Understand why people may disagree...really wish Delta could have routed me through Hong Kong/ICN to Vancouver on one of its Sky Team partners. Would have been easier for both Delta and me...
We are explaining to you why your flights don't meet the requirement. Bill A gave you the reason. In the future, you might want to use a travel agency to book your air - this could have been avoided by paying an agent that specializes in this kind of ticketing to book the tickets differently or ensure you had a transit visa.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
20,745
20,324
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#17
From post #6, that routing does not work for the visa waiver program.

Delta's concern is that it transports a passenger who will be denied admission to China, and Delta must fly that passenger back ASAP. Thus, I'm not sure the Delta gate agent was wrong in denying boarding.
That is correct and Delta can also be fined for flying the passenger besides having to fly them back.
 
Nov 27, 2019
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#18
The plane stopped in SEA for an hour and a half before heading to Vancouver--which was my final destination. My goal was to fly PVG to YVR because I knew I had to comply with the third country rule outlined in the Chinese Embassy. With Seattle being a Delta hub, I had to touch down at SeaTac (whether I wanted to or not).
Unless things have changed dramatically, it wasn't just a stop in SEA, but a plane change and different flight number.

In this case, you were violating both the letter and the spirit of the Chinese transit visa program. It's designed to facilitate using China as a place to connect through from country A to country B, not to essentially allow a short-term visa to China without a regular visa.
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#19
You were trying to use a transit without Visa. The problem is you were not transiting from Seattle to Vancouver via China. Absolutely no one wanting to travel from Seattle to Vancouver would purchase a ticket via China. And no one would travel from one city of the US to another city of the US via China. Anyone doing that is clearly wanting to visit China not just transiting through China to somewhere else which is why you need a visa.
 
May 1, 2018
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#20
The Chinese embassy language explicitly says "an onward ticket to a third country"
Exactly! The first country is your departure point (the US), the second country is China, and the third country is any other country. You did not have an onward ticket to a third country; you had a ticket to your departure (aka the first) country. This is explicitly against the transit policy. Flying from the US to China and back to the US is explicitly not "transiting".