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I just realized that I am in a tricky situation right now.

I'm traveling with an Indonesian passport. I'm flying from New York to Christchurch, New Zealand in a couple of days, with a connection in Sydney, Australia. Upon scrutinizing my ticket recently, I realized that said connection is 11 hours long, with two different flights (Delta and Virgin) although it was bought on the same ticket, and that I am likely to have to collect my luggages in Sydney and recheck my luggages to Christchurch (which means that I have to pass Australian immigration).

There is no way I can get the Australian transit visa in time. Can anyone provide any helpful suggestions to solve this problem when I get to Sydney? Or share any similar past experience with the Australian border agents?

Thank you so very much.

  • Possible duplicate: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/105444/… – TravelLikeBeaker Jan 24 at 16:24
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    A different flight? JFK-SFO-AKL-CHC booked on Air New Zealand, which right now is actually cheaper than your itinerary is today. – Michael Hampton Jan 24 at 16:41
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    "to solve this problem when I get to Sydney": you probably won't get to Sydney, because the airline probably won't let you board the flight without the transit visa. – phoog Jan 24 at 21:04
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I think you need to change your flights.

There are two issues:

  1. Your layover is 11 hours. According to the Australian government, transit without visa is limited to layovers of 8 hours or less.

  2. You might need to exit immigration to claim your luggage. Your airline can tell you whether this will actually be needed. Since it's a single ticket with partner airlines, they might be able to check your luggage through and avoid the need for this.

Because of #1 in particular, when you go to check in at New York, the airline will note that you need a transit visa, check your passport, and see that you don't have it. They will then refuse to board you, since if they land you in Australia without the proper papers, the Australian government will make them fly you back and probably fine them. So you will never get to Sydney, and will never get a chance to plead your case with the Australian border agents.

If you can change your itinerary to have a shorter layover, and you can verify with your airline that you won't need to reclaim luggage (or if you can reduce your luggage to carry-on only), then it seems that you should be eligible for transit without visa. The airline might charge you a change fee, but I would think this should at least be possible: there should be frequent flights from Sydney to Christchurch, so there should be one leaving less than 11 hours after your arrival.

  • There are plenty of flights so I suspect the 11 hour layover arises from some strange fare rule. – Michael Hampton Jan 24 at 21:12
  • That is right. I called the airline for 2.5 hours and there is no other alternative other than voiding the ticket. I can't tell you how devastated I am. – Stuck without a transit visa Jan 25 at 16:38
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Check with your airline (that you booked the flight with). Sydney allows transit passengers to wait in the airport without requiring an Australian visa. However, whether this is possible will depend on the procedures of the airline(s) in question, and is best answered by the airline themselves. I understand that 11 hours is a long time to wait inside an airport. [NOTE: As per the comments below, the transit-without-visa for Sydney is only available for connection times of 8 hours or less.]

You can find some more information about transit in Sydney at Get to your next flight on the Sydney Airport web site.

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