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Let's say I am flying from country A to country C via country B.

What happens if, due to airline error, I am delayed in country A and miss my connection to country C and the next flight is the next day?

I must be allowed a hotel paid for by the airline but then I won't have a visa to exit in country B.

What happens if there is a delay of many days? Perhaps a week? It is also not inconceivable that due to the other delays I miss my return flight.

Basically, how do airlines rectify really big issues caused by delays?

This seems like something that must have been asked before but I can't find anything on here about it.

EDIT:

For the purposes of this post not being deleted for being too broad (although, is it really?), I will be travelling from the UK to Kenya, via the Netherlands. I wanted to know what might happen after Brexit.

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    The answer to all your questions depend on where you are flying. You can not take it for granted that an airline is required to provide you with a hotel room if you are delayed and lack of entry visa at a transit point may very well require you to stay in the transit area of the airport over night, although the airline would have arranged a hotel room for you if you were entitled to enter the country. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sep 25 '18 at 19:10
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    People have been camped for days air-side at airports sleeping on those hard benches. Not recommended! – user 56513 Sep 25 '18 at 19:25
  • If country B is the US, or another country where all transit passengers must have documents to enter the country, there won't be a problem. – phoog Sep 25 '18 at 20:12
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    No offense, but I would like to vote this question for closing for being too broad. Questions on StackExchange sites should be generic enough to apply to all passengers, but narrow enough to be specific to a problem the OP is having. While I have checked the FAQs and saw nothing against hypothetical questions, it is commonly accepted that questions should not point to hypothetical cases. I recommend that at very least you specify which countries do you actually want to visit. – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Sep 25 '18 at 20:33
  • Yes, because hypothetical cases may not actually exist, because the world may be better-managed than the asker thinks it is. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 25 '18 at 23:40
15

Many years ago. My wife and I flew Bangkok to London via Athens. She was not yet British. She needed and had a UK visa. She did not have a Greek visa which was okay for transit but not to enter Greece.

While in London, we considered stopping in Athens on the return trip so we inquired at the Greek embassy in London. It was not possible to get a visa in time so we dropped the idea.

When we got out in Athens and went to the transfer desk, we were told that the flight was overbooked. They asked for volunteers to take the next flight in 3 days time. We were offered local transport, a hotel, and meals. I volunteered but explained that my wife would need a visa. They said that they would sort it out. This was remarkably quick. My wife's passport was held at the airport and she was given a receipt. We did not have much in our hand luggage so we asked about our checked in luggage. We were shown into the storage and pointed to a mountain of bags. We could not find ours in a reasonable time.

So, you might be lucky but, as others have said, there is no guarantee, you might also be unlucky.

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I once spent a night on the airport terminal floor precisely because of this issue. The inbound flight was late and the airline was willing to pay for my hotel, but immigration authorities didn't let me in. Immigration authorities tend not to care about passenger comfort -- if you need a visa and don't have one, you can't enter, and they have zero obligations to accommodate you.

Most countries can issue a temporary entry permit on the spot to cover unforeseen circumstances. Normally they won't issue it for a simple flight delay, but in serious cases, such as urgent medical need (e.g. a heart attack), they might make an exception.

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, it's worthwhile to ask the airline and immigration officers to resolve the issue, but accept that it might not be possible.

If immigration won't let you in, you can try to ask the airline to give you free business class lounge access instead of the hotel -- those tend to be much better for sleeping than common areas, but unfortunately, some of them close late at night.

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    A good contrast to my story and illustrates the point that you might not be lucky as I was. Sadly, yours is probably the more likely experience. I was probably helped because the problem was overbooking and they wanted volunteers. The offer seemed quite good to me but not many were taking it. – badjohn Sep 26 '18 at 8:52

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