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I was going to Dubai, with a transit in Istanbul. I was to land in Atatürk International Airport and, on the same day, fly from Sabiha Gökçen Airport. Both flights were on Turkish Airlines.

When I got to Murtala International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, they refused to check me in, saying that I didn't have a Turkish transit visa.

Right now, I'm at home, and confused; I don't know what to do. I'm a Nigerian and bought my ticket through an agent.

Is there anything I can do now? And how to avoid such situation in the future?

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    I'm sorry to say this but your travel agent just made a blooper at your expense. – Dmitry Grigoryev Sep 21 '18 at 12:27
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    Changing airports requires a transit visa in almost every country. Only when your connecting flights are at the same airport is a transit visa usually not required. Check visa requirements yourself for any proposed itinerary before you purchase the ticket, especially if you use an agent. Don't rely on the agent to check visa requirements for you; he is not the one who will be denied boarding. And perhaps even buy the ticket yourself. With the Internet you can get much the same fares as an agent can get, and possibly even lower fares. – Michael Hampton Sep 22 '18 at 4:07
  • Your travel agent has goofed, but in my experience few travel agents earn their commission. No doubt they'll disclaim all liability -- but you've just discovered how little help they often are. What a good travel agent can do, however, is to get on one ticket flights which you as an individual might not be able to. A good travel agent, especially a large firm, can also be useful if things go seriously wrong when you're overseas. – John MacLeod Sep 26 '18 at 21:59
  • This is pretty easy that I'm wondering what you expect from an answer. You were told clearly that you need a Turkish visa, so you do. It's a formal matter. It is always the sole responsibility of the traveler to ensure that you have the necessary paperwork. – Itai Sep 27 '18 at 3:11
44

You do need a Turkish visa because you are changing airports and will not remain airside. Check-in staff was right.

If your ticket had your transit on one single airport you wouldn't need one but with the current itinerary you do need it.

I don't know what to do

Solution: Get your agent to change the ticket so your connection is on a single airport, for example Ataturk International. It will cost more but it will be easier than getting a transit visa quickly.

Transit - Turkey (TR)

Visa

Visa required.

TWOV (Transit Without Visa):

Passengers with a confirmed onward ticket for a flight to a third country within 24 hours. They must stay in the international transit area of the airport and have documents required for the next destination.

Source

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    If I use same airport, and waiting time of more than 9hours, will it make them demand for transit visa? – Thankgod Sep 20 '18 at 14:00
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    Nope they won't demand a visa then. – Hanky Panky Sep 20 '18 at 14:00
  • @Thankgod - only if the waiting time is more than 24 hours. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Sep 21 '18 at 12:55
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The question of responsibility for visas crops up from time to time here, and I don't think we can be clearer than Greg Hewgill is in the accepted answer:

In general, it is the passenger's responsibility to ensure that they obtain any required visa(s) before commencing travel.

We have a question here about the need for a Turkish transit visa, and it is clear that you do. As the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website says:

If you will not leave the transit lounge at the airport you are not required to have transit visa. Otherwise, you have to make visa application to the nearest Turkish Representation.

Given that you're changing airports in Istanbul, it's clear that you needed a visa, and it's clear that it was your responsibility to know this. You might want to go and grumble at your agent for not keeping you informed, but I'm afraid that the airline were quite right not to allow you to check in.

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    While i completely agree that it was the passenger's responsibility to check for the required documents for the itinerary but it looks like a genuine lack of knowledge of the situation and the passenger seems to be looking for advice as to what to do. I don't think the OP is trying to suggest that the airline was wrong. – Hanky Panky Sep 20 '18 at 14:08
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    You could well be right. The OP doesn't actually ask a question, so I think we're both trying to infer what (s)he wants to know. My inference was that (s)he wanted to know if someone was responsible and so would have to bear the cost of re-ticketing. But I could be completely wrong about that. – MadHatter supports Monica Sep 20 '18 at 14:09
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    @David on what gounds? Travel agents routinely disclaim liability for documentation requirements. The responsibility to investigate these requirements lies with the traveler, not the agent. – phoog Sep 20 '18 at 19:14
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    @David no travel agent I ever used discussed visas with me. If courts were finding agents responsible as you suggest, they would be far more diligent about discussing visas with their clients than they actually are. – phoog Sep 20 '18 at 19:44
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    @David I doubt it, they'll just indemnify themselves in their Ts&Cs. Taking a completely random US example: "It is your responsibility to fullfil the passport, visa and other immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. You should confirm these with the relevant embassies and/or consulates. We do not accept any responsibility in the case of you being unable to travel due to not complying with any such requirements.". – MadHatter supports Monica Sep 20 '18 at 20:48

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