So I have a multi leg journey: Colombo to Dubai, Dubai to Brazil, Brazil to Panama, Panama to Nassau. I will book the single ticket on Emirates website.

On the day of flying, do I go to the Colombo airport Emirates counter and then trade my ticket for a boarding pass? Will that boarding pass have all the destinations? For an example, when I land in Brazil, do I need to go to the Emirates counter again to get a boarding pass?

  • 6
    Just be ABSOLUTELY sure to bring a PRINT-OUT of everything when you leave home to go to the airport.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 16:37
  • And stick a change of underwear in your carry-on luggage
    – Strawberry
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 14:59

4 Answers 4


You do have a difficult itinerary, so I will start with the general procedure and then add more details for your specific case.

On the day of flying, do I go to the Colombo airport Emirates counter

Yes. You may be also able to check in online, but yours is a special case, so DO go to the counter

and then trade my ticket for a boarding pass?

You show your ticket (and keep it). Then the check-in person will issue a boarding pass. There is no physical ticket anymore. What you need is

  1. Identification
  2. The booking reference number or record locator or PNR for the specific airline you are checking in with. This is a six digit code made up of numbers and letters. A single booking can have DIFFERENT reference number for each airline, so chances are you will get two: one for Emirates and one for Copa. Write them down and make sure you have them available.
  3. Documentation that you are entitled to enter your destination country and that you meet all requirements for transit countries (if they have any)
  4. Documentation that you meet all the Corona rules for your entire trip

Will that boarding pass have all the destinations?

Each boarding pass is only good for one leg. So in total you will need four different boarding passes. Chances are you will get at least two ( CMB->DXB and DXB->GRU) during the first check in. You MAY get the other two as well, but that's unknown. It depends on the agreements between Emirates and Copa and these days Corona often forces manual check-ins and prevent issuing a boarding pass up front. When you check-in in CMB ask the check-in person for details.

For an example, when I land in Brazil, do I need to go to the Emirates counter again to get a boarding pass?

No. If you don't get your boarding passes in CMB, you will need to check in with Copa, not Emirates. You CANNOT go to the regular Copa check in counter in GRU since it is outside the transit area and you would have to enter Brazil to access it. Instead either find a Copa service counter (if there is one) or go the gate of your flight as early as possible and talk to the gate agents as soon as they show up. Present your documentation and the Copa PNR and they will issue the remaining boarding passes if your documentation is ok.

Some more considerations

  1. This is a complicated itinerary during a very difficult travel time. Make sure you learn as much about the airports, airlines, and specifically about visa requirements and up-to-date Corona rules and restriction as much as you can. You MUST be up to speed on all the Corona rules for the countries you touch.
  2. As unfair as it is: it is entirely YOUR responsibility to be fully compliant with immigration and Corona regulations and to have and provide all documentation required. The airlines will try to help, but a lot of this is outside of their control, they have a hard time keeping up too, and the regulations change frequently and are complicated. If your paper work doesn't check out, the airline will deny you boarding. They are legally required to do so.
  3. Let me re-emphasize the point. The fact that the airline sold you a ticket does NOT mean you are allowed to travel. The terms and conditions that you agree to make this your responsibility alone. Even the check-in people in Colombo can't fully check your paperwork: We recently had a case on this forum where people flew from South Africa to Switzerland and were turned around in Dubai because of incomplete documentation.
  4. You may encounter many different document checks along the way. While entering the terminal, at the gate, when exiting the plane, when boarding the plane, security, or somewhere random in between. Make sure you have a recent Corona test (in English, PCR preferred), passport, any visas, and PNRs for all airlines handy and can pull them out quickly at short notice and then safely store them again. Make sure you don't lose any.
  5. You may have to improvise. For example, if you can't find any Copa personal in GRU, try Emirates (if you can find them). You can go to any gate where a flight from either Copa or Emirates arrives or departs, it doesn't have to be your flight. Make sure you have international and local customer service numbers handy and carry a telephone that will work in all countries involved (even if it's expensive). Download the app from each airline, make an account and associate your reservation with each account.
  • 4
    Paper tickets no longer exist, so you usually can't "show your ticket". In most cases, just providing your ID should be enough for them to find the "e-ticket" in their records. Having the PNR (booking reference) may help in some cases.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 14:56
  • 5
    My first stop if I don't have a boarding pass for the next flight would always be the gate agent at the gate where I just arrived...you're already right there, after all. If they can't help then you can go searching for a different one. Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 22:07
  • 2
    @user3067860 that works for domestic flights in the US and in limited number of other places where you exit directly into the departures area when you get off the plane, but not for international arrivals which are segregated in nearly all airports.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 1:04
  • 3
    @chrylis-cautiouslyoptimistic- I do have quite a few PNRs with digits from AF, A3, BA, LX, U2 in Europe, CX and SQ in Asia, but also Southwest in the US... Those I could find from AA and DL indeed only had letters.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 9:57
  • 10
    I've found that it's wise to print 2 copies of all the documents available when purchasing the tickets. I keep one copy handy in an outside pocket of my carry on bag for quick access any time I need it. I keep the second copy buried at the back of the carry on bag with the other items I don't expect to need while actually traveling, just in case something happens to the first set. For a long, complex journey like this, in these paranoid times, for a 1st time international traveler, it couldn't hurt.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Mar 3, 2021 at 11:44

As I stated in a comment to one of your many other questions, if you manage to book the whole itinerary through Emirates, it looks like it will be a "multi-city" trip.

Such a trip may be considered like 4 separate trips, not a single one. This can make a huge difference in the way things are managed.

  • If the whole itinerary is considered as single trip, then you check-in once in CMB.

    • They will give you as many boarding passes as they can, though for such a long and complex itinerary it is unlikely they will be able to provide all boarding passes (as the "check-in period" of the later flights may not even have started yet). In that case, you would get further boarding passes at "transfer desks" at intermediate airports.

    • If you have checked luggage, it should at this point be "checked through" to the final destination. The luggage tags will show the final destination as well as all intermediate connection airports.

    • You usually do not need to go through passport control or customs in any of the connecting airports. Note that this is not always possible in all airports, and in some airports it may depend on the arriving and departing terminals. You need to check this as this may have an influence on TWOV.

    • If something goes wrong, it is the responsibility of the airline(s) to try to get you to your final destination and usually to accommodate and support you in the meantime. However, there's only so much they can do (as noted elsewhere, there's only one direct flight a week from PTY to NAS, and nearly all other connections go through the US which would require a US visa), especially since you won't be able to enter the country, so unless there's an airside hotel, even if you are stranded for several nights they may not be able to set you up in a hotel.

  • On the other hand, if each of the flights is considered a separate trip (multi-city tickets are usually for a succession of flights where you have a few days in the connecting city between flights, like the outbound and inbound flights on a return ticket), then:

    • You could have to check-in separately for each flight.
    • If you had checked luggage, you could be required to go through passport control (immigration), reclaim your luggage, go through customs, check-in, then passport control (emigration) and security at each connecting airport, which would most likely be incompatible with the TWOV requirements.
    • If you check-in separately, you have to meet the check-in deadline for each flight (probably very difficult for your very short connection in PTY, unless you can check-in online, but I'm not sure I would count on it these days or in your circumstances).
    • You may not meet requirements for TWOV in one or more places
    • You may be denied boarding because for each flight, they may consider the immediate destination airport as the final destination, and check your ability to enter the next country rather than just transit.
    • If things go wrong (missed connections), they may not assist you in any way.

You need to call Emirates to double check exactly how the trip is considered. Get confirmation in writing that you can be through-checked to the final destination. If you can't, the chances you will be in trouble are quite high, and given the number of flights, airports, countries, airlines and personnel involved, those chances increase dramatically.

Given the cost and complexity of your trip, I would (again) very strongly advise you to try to find an itinerary where you can get visas for the connecting points, especially when they involve switching from one airline to another or there are very limited flights on the route. I understand that getting a visa for the US or the UK for instance may be quite difficult for some nationalities, but there are probably quite a few countries which have lower requirements, especially for transit, and even more if you can afford multi-thousand-dollar fares.

It's when seeing situations like these I have to thank the stars I have passports from countries which allow visa-free entry and travel to so many places!


Typically, nobody wants to see your ticket (but bring a print-out just in case).

At the check-in counter, they ask for your name and passport, and with that find your flight and ticket.
You might also be able to get your boarding passes online, and print them or store them on your cell phone.

Most cases, they give you all the boarding passes for each flight right there, and also check your luggage through all the way. So you simply walk from gate to gate at each airport, show the next boarding pass, and fly on.

However, for long journeys with multiple executing airlines, sometimes they cannot print all boarding passes right at the start, so you have to go to the gate counters at the stop-overs - same procedure, name and passport -> boarding pass.

Note that some countries force you pick up your luggage and carry it through customs (and then drop it off again); that is required in countries where not all airports are international (I only know of USA, but there might be others).
If this affects you, they will clearly say so in the plane before landing, and at immigration.

  • 2
    I have no clue if paper tickets still exist (I haven't seen one in a decade or two). But, if you have a "ticket", then you will need to present it - real tickets are like money. You've probably never seen one though. Those itineraries full of information and numbers are "tickets".
    – Flydog57
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 22:49
  • Actually always bring a printout. I think even recently China requires this, since they need to place a stamp (which allows you then to go to security if I remember correctly).
    – lalala
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 8:44

Perhaps someone has the canonical answer, but when I travel, I don't care much about these things; So, this is not so much a direct answer to your question, but a suggestion of an approach.

You have proof of purchasing this ticket. Just in case, carry a copy of that with you.

Emirates is responsible for getting you from A to B, though I suspect there's some code-sharing going on, as, as far as I'm aware, Emirates flies neither from Brazil to Panama, nor from Panama to the Bahamas.

It's quite possible you will get all your boarding passes in Colombo, but it's probably more likely that you will have to pick up your boarding passes at some of your stopovers. I'd guess Brazil and Panama, but, who knows. When you check in, they'll tell you, or you can ask, and, if you want to be certain, confirm and ask again.

You don't mention where in Brazil is your stopover. Assuming it's GRU (Sao Paulo), it's most likely your luggage will be checked through from Colombo to Nassau. When checking in in Colombo, they'll tell you. If you do have to pick up your luggage somewhere along the way, you will need to be allowed to enter the country in question.

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