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Suppose you have a stopover at Dubai but the airline refuses to let you board at the gate for the onward flight. This could be for having incorrect documentation/visa for the onward destination or for not having received clearance. What happens?

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The details will vary based on the airline, airport, country, your citizenship etc, but most commonly, you will be returned to the country you came from. If this is not possible due to visa reasons etc, you will be sent to a country that is willing to accept you, usually meaning your country of citizenship. More details including chapter and verse from IATA regulations here.

Because the denial in this case is from the airline, not the local authorities, you will (probably) not be detained and are thus free to make your own arrangements. The airline will likely suggest using your return ticket if you have one, but visas etc permitting you may be able to enter the transit country or fly to a different destination.

That said, it would be highly unusual to be denied boarding at the gate for immigration reasons, because your documentation for your entire journey is checked before you board your first flight. Being denied at the gate would require unusual circumstances like losing your passport or your destination country belatedly flagging you as undesirable.

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  • Those regulations seem to refer to a formal denial of entry by immigration at the destination country. In those cases, the airline is likely to be fined. Your answer implies that the traveler would be forced to board a flight of the airline's choosing. Would he not be allowed to walk to an airline's desk of HIS choosing to buy a ticket of HIS choosing? – user58558 Sep 22 '19 at 13:59
  • I agree that checks should be made at the first airport. I’m not quite sure they would actually fly the passenger anywhere unless they had to if ever a problem was discovered while in transit, though it probably depends a lot on whether the passenger has the right to enter the country where they are suddenly “stuck” in or not. If they can enter that country they will probably just say “sorry, have a nice day” and leave them there and then. And the passenger would then come here asking if they are due any compensation by the airline :-) – jcaron Sep 22 '19 at 15:05
  • @greatone Fair point, I was assuming they would also run into transit visa issues and the authorities would get involved. Will clarify. – lambshaanxy Sep 22 '19 at 22:08
  • Once I missed my onward flight with a different airline which was on a different PNR than the original. I arrived at the gate after it had closed. They told me tough luck. Do whatever. I had to buy another ticket from the transfers counter. Nobody from immigration (or the airline) got involved in making sure where I went. Slightly different situation though. – user58558 Sep 23 '19 at 1:31
  • @greatone Different PNR = not the airline's problem. Same PNR = their problem (to some extent, anyway). – lambshaanxy Sep 23 '19 at 10:34

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