Problem with my return flight with Air China which I bought through CheapOair

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Jan 22, 2018
On January 22nd, 2018, I was supposed to take my return flight home from Osaka, Japan with Air China. I bought my tickets through CheapOair. I was supposed to change flights in Shenzhen, China and fly to LA, then to Minnesota. When I arrived to the Air China ticket counter at Osaka Airport, I was told by the ladies at the counter that I could not take this flight because I don’t have Visa to China and the Shenzhen airport in China does not give visa on arrival.( not even the 24 hours transit visa) I explained to them that I was not aware of this because I had changed flights at the other airports in China such as Beijing and Shanghai airports in the past and they either issued transit visa on arrival or just didn’t require one. They told me to change the flight through Beijing but they said they cannot do anything at the ticket counter at the airport and give me the number to the call center of the airline. After many hours of calling and talking to many operators they just asked me to another tickets for flights which transit through Beijing. They asked me to buy tickets for the next day that will cost me about 1700 dollars. I am traveling on a tight budget and I had to buy new ticket to LA on Thursday the 25th for 425 dollars because the longer I stay and argue with them, the more I will spend on food and hotel, etc. I really need to get back to school and work as well. In my opinion, I should be informed by either the Air China or CheapOair that Shenzhen airport in China is very different from other major airports in China and that i needed to apply for visa beforehand. ( they obviously know since they didn’t even let me board the plane)I called CheapOair but they just tell me it was my fault and my fault alone the I didn’t check if I needed Visa to transit through Shenzhen, China. They said they will just sell me new sets of tickets and will not do anything for me. Now, I am still in Japan waiting for my flight on January 25th and still looking for flight from LAX to MSP.

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
The airlines are not responsible for telling you what travel documents you need to travel. There are millions of different variations that they would have to be aware of. It is an impossible task. Every airline will tell you that you are responsible to know what travel documents you need to fly. After all - when you are booking your own tickets, you are acting as your own travel agent and travel agents know where to find those rules for their clients.

Their terms and conditions states this:

All customers are advised to verify travel documents (transit visa/entry visa) for the country through which they are transiting and/or entering. Reliable information regarding international travel can be found at and also with the consulate/embassy of the country(s) you are visiting or transiting through. CheapOair will not be responsible if proper travel documents are not available and you are denied entry or transit into a Country.

Your transaction with CheapOair does not guarantee entrance to the country of destination. Traveler understands that CheapOair accepts no responsibility for determining passenger's eligibility to enter or transit through any specific country. Information, if any, given by CheapOair's employees must be verified with government authorities. Such information does not imply responsibility on CheapOair's behalf.

Cheapo Air actually has information on their website telling you how to find what you need and even a phone number to call to ask what you need:
Sep 19, 2015
from the China embassy website:

A foreign citizen can enter China without a visa under any one of the following circumstances:

1) Direct Transit
A foreign citizen who is transiting through China by air is exempted from a visa if he/she will stay only inside the airport (without entering the boder control) for no more than 24 hours and has a valid connecting ticket with confirmed seating on an international flight.

However, Shenzen airport apparently lacks a dedicated transit hall so to change international flights one needs to have a visa --as one has to enter through border control

Now for the 24 hour visa on arrival, Shenzen airport is not listed as granting these types of visa: they are not part of the program

Chinese visa rules are complicated
Likes: Neil Maley