A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question regarding international entry requirements and who ultimately bears the responsibility if a person is not admitted to a country.
Here’s the question from the reader:
Hi John, with the complicated travel documentation requirements due to covid today, if you get accepted wrongly by an airline and denied entry to your destination.
Is it right to say “the airline should have stopped me as it is their job to check my documents at check-in?” or is it solely the responsibility of the traveller?
The short version is that the passenger is always responsible for holding the correct documents to be admissible to the destination country.
Airlines can be fined if they bring passengers to a country without the needed documents for entry. However, they don’t get fined if you are inadmissible for any other reason, or the immigration agent just decides that you don’t fulfill the entry requirements, such as likely going to overstay or work illegally.
I was chatting with a Finnair agent when I flew from Oulu to Tallinn via Helsinki, who told me that they could no longer rely on Timatic, a service from IATA that is used by airlines and travel agents to ensure that the passengers fulfill the document and health requirements for the transit and destinations countries, but rather to rely on other paper documents that get updated regularly.
The entry requirements from Finland to Estonia had just changed that morning, I was checking in at around 5 AM, but I knew already a couple of days earlier what they were going to be.
You have to be very careful with the destination country’s entry requirements and what transit ones need, such as UAE (Abu Dhabi) and Singapore (both require PCR-RT tests for transit passengers even when the destination country doesn’t).
Also, many countries accept a PCR-RT test that is not performed more than 72 hours before the initial departure (many mistakenly believe this is based on the results time – wrong), but Singapore needs one that is not more than 48 hours old.
I have advised our readers not to purchase advance travel to destinations that are not open to them at the time of purchase and not more than a few weeks out, if possible.
The entry and transit requirements can still change with concise notice. They don’t always become less strict like many Americans have found in the past week or so after EU/EEA put them on the more restrictive list. Some bloc countries don’t allow non-citizen/resident arrivals from the US or those who have been in the US in the past 14 days.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the proper documents for the destination and transit countries.