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Suppose you have an international layover at an airport that connects to a different non-partner airline from your arrival flight airline. My understanding is that you will need to claim your baggage and then recheck your baggage to the next flight since the next flight is a non-partner airline and therefore they won't ship your baggage to final destination (correct me if I'm wrong).

However, aren't most baggage claim areas in airports located AFTER passport control/immigration? Hence, according to this: Catching separately ticketed flights through an airport without leaving the transit area, it suggests that you will need to go through passport control/immigration despite the fact that you're just doing a layover/transit and do not intend to leave the airport (correct that answer if it's wrong).

If that is the case, will they let you past passport control/immigration with just a "Transit Without a Visa" privilege (no actual Transit Visa is possessed, just the passport's innate TWOV privilege) so that you can claim your bag and check it into your next flight? Will they seize your passport and/or follow you around or something to ensure that you don't run off? Will you have to go through airport security again?

Note: I'm looking mostly at airports in Europe, Asia, Australia/NZ, and South America, i.e. not US/Canadian airports.

  • 1
    You'll have to be more specific. It highly depends on the airlines, the alliances, and even the airports... – user67108 Oct 15 '17 at 9:22
  • Anecdote: I once managed to agree with first airline to check in my bag for both flights. I did have two separate tickets for each leg of the journey, and the airlines were different, so that was just super nice and helpful person at check in desk. – Andrei Oct 16 '17 at 12:24
21

As a rule, what matters is whether you're "ticketed through" (interlined) or whether you have separate tickets.

If you're ticketed through, your bags will be transferred and you'll be able to transit without passing through immigration (if possible at that airport; not all airports or countries allow this). Beware that in some circumstances even this will require a visa, particularly if you're from a country with many asylum seekers.

However, if you're on separate tickets, the first airline's responsibility ends when you arrive at the transit airport and you'll need to pass through immigration and customs to reclaim your bags and check them in again. Depending on the country and your nationality, this may require a transit visa, a full visa or nothing at all.

These are all general guidelines and exceptions abound. If you can give us specific details, we can give you more specific guidance.

  • 2
    This answer hints to interlining as an afterthought in the last paragraph, when in fact it is very common, even between airlines from different alliances. – Martin Argerami Oct 16 '17 at 1:09
  • Yes, that's what "ticketing through" refers to. Interlining is the industry term, but I'll add a note. – lambshaanxy Oct 16 '17 at 2:02
9

"Transit" in immigration terms refers to travelling to a country for the purpose of travelling on to a third country.

Transits can be divided into two categories, "airside" and "landside". In an airside transit you never pass through the country's immigration controls. In a landside transit you enter the country like any other visitor.

Airside transits generally have a relatively liberal visa policy with only a few high-risk countries requiring visas. Landside transits generally have a visa policy comparable to tourist visits (though sometimes with additional exemptions).

Reasons you may need to transit landside include (but are not limited to)

  • You need to collect and re-check baggage, generally if you have booked the flights on one ticket your baggage will normally be checked through but if you have bought them on separate tickets you will normally need to collect and re-check any checked baggage. I have heard reports of some airports providing assistance with such baggage transfers but I would not rely on it.
  • Your itinerary includes a domestic or schengen-internal flight.
  • Your itinerary involves a change of airport
  • The airport design is not set up for airside transfer between the terminals your flights fly to and from.
  • You have an overnight layover and the transit area closes overnight.

Another wrinkle is the airlines. I have heard reports of airlines refusing people boarding when they were trying to make an airside transit on two separate tickets.

You really need to do your homework on each individual country and airport if you are transiting through countries that would not let you enter visa free as a tourist.

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