IATA rules state that the airline should ensure that the passenger has the correct visa. If failing that, and the passenger is denied entry to the destination country, the airline is subjected to a fine.

What are the obligations of the airline towards the passenger having been denied entry?


3 Answers 3


The airline has no obligation towards a passenger who doesn't have the right visa.

Any airline that flies internationally will have a clause in their conditions of carriage that says it is the passenger's own responsibility to have the right travel documentation. They reserve the right to deny you boarding if you're lacking a visa you need, but that is in no way a promise (to you!) that they will do so.

They generally have an obligation towards the country that denied entry, to transport you back where you come from. They will often try to bill you for that separately once the dust has settled.

  • 2
    It might be worth noting that the airline's obligation mentioned in the IATA rules is directed toward the destination country. The statement of the rule that is given in the question suggests that the rule could be interpreted as concerning an obligation to the passenger, which it certainly does not.
    – phoog
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 0:04

There is the obligation to bring back the passenger. As far I know, there is no obligation to make such flight free. And this obligation is toward the arrival country.

Note: Visa is not a permission to entry to a country. It is just a stamp that tell immigration officer that you had a pre-check. And possibly a link to your documents. This is just done to speed up immigration process. With a visa you do not have right to enter in country.

Additionally, there are many rules and exceptions. Airline staff is not trained for all cases in all countries. There are just codes in IATA databases, but they are also not extensive.

If you read the travel contract, you see that you are responsible to have correct travel documents (and to notify health problems, and few other obligations).


Promise 1: By Airline To Country X. As a condition of flying into country X, the airline promises country X to remove you if you are refused. That is a promise to country X, not to you; in this transaction you are nothing but cargo.* This applies for any reason you are refused.

Promise 2: By You to the Airline. You promise that if you are refused, you will pay a fare for the abovementioned ride home.

Promise 3: By Airline To Country X. The airline will check your papers for the correct visa. For this, they face a fine if they do not comply.

Suppose your papers are fine, and the airline boards you. When you land, the Immigration Officer finds your papers are in order, but your business attire raises questions; you seem to be seeking employment and are refused. The airline 1) must fly you back, 2) you must pay the fare, and 3) the airline does not pay a fine because they did their part.

None of these promises are from the airline to you.

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