We're allowed to transit via PTY up to 12 hours air side (without entering Panama). Say we missed our connecting flight and the next connecting flight is in a week. We don't have any checked in luggage.

In this case, we can just cancel the trip and we will book the reverse trip back to origin. The problem is the next flight on the reverse trip starts at midnight (past the 12 hour transit mark, about 24 hours).

What happens then? Who will check if we're exceeding 12 hour transit if we stay air side only?

  • I'm confused. Is your PTY-NAS leg on the same or on a separate ticket ?
    – Hilmar
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 13:20
  • 1
    @Hilmar A separate itinerary / ticket. See zwdev2's earlier questions - they cannot find a route that lets them travel on a single itinerary.
    – thelem
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 13:23
  • 1
    Thanks. Sorry, I'm a dummy, it says right in the question title.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 13:25
  • @Vincent, please stop with 'tags only' edits till you have enough rep to do it without approval. And even then, not to many in a row.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 15:32

2 Answers 2


This is usually checked based on the expected transit time before you board the previous flights. An airline will always check if you meet the conditions for the destination and all transit points, based on their notion of what your itinerary is.

(As an aside, remember that they do that to protect themselves, as countries will fine them if they let somebody arrive which doesn't meet entry or transit requirements. They don't do that for you, and they don't owe you anything if they miss something or change their mind along the way. Quite the opposite, you are liable for any fines that may be levied against them, as well as the cost of the flight back, at the full last minute rate).

Given the number of connections in your itinerary, expect airlines to check again at each airport, and do not expect them to apply the same rules the same way at each airport.

Since your ongoing travel from PTY to NAS is on a separate ticket, they may actually consider that your final destination is PTY, and refuse boarding altogether as you don't have another flight on the same ticket and you don't meet entry requirements for PTY. They may do so at CMB, at DXB, or at GRU. Given the very short connection time, even if they would normally accept a self-connection, they may refuse in your case considering the flight as a connection as the risk of missing it is too great. Again, they may think it's fine at CMB but change their mind at DXB or GRU.

If they do accept your separate ticket, then if at some point in the itinerary they find out that you won't make it, they may stop accepting it and refuse boarding (this is actually a very strong possibility). For instance, if at GRU the flight is delayed and they know that you won't be able to make it onto the PTY-NAS flight, they will nearly certainly refuse boarding in GRU.

If you still end up in PTY and miss your self-connecting flight, then the first issue is that it's possible the airport or the terminal closes at night. It does not seem to be the case at PTY according to sleepinginairports.net but their info does not seem to be up to date (they mention 2019 as being in the future), and with Covid restrictions things may be quite different.

Even if the airport is open, if you stay there a whole week (probably not a good experience) you'll probably get noticed and at that point trouble begins (a much worse experience, as you'll probably be put in custody until they manage to ship you out of there -- at your expense of course).

You say that in this event you would instead book a trip back. First, remember that last minute ticket prices may be significantly more expensive. Next, especially these days, flights can be cancelled, so it may take quite a bit longer to get a flight back home. Also, I haven't checked Covid-related restrictions for transit along the way, but if any country on the way requires a recent negative test you'll probably be in a difficult situation.

Even if you do find flights back, you may still be noticed by the authorities and get into trouble. They'll be glad you're flying back, but that may not prevent them from putting you in a cell in the meantime if they're so inclined.

As I already told you, I still think this is a bad idea. You should try to get a visa for Panama, that would make things a lot easier.

  • 3
    Or, in my view better, cancel the whole travel.
    – Willeke
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 7:40
  • This means that people cannot go to most of the countries because it is always ending up in 2 to 3 tickets. How do people then go to countries like Bolivia or Colombia or Chile? I've see lot's of Asians do it, there is no way Emirates took them there on a single ticket. COPA also sells a single ticket on that same plane GRU to NAS via PTY, so they also think 1 hour connection time is doable.
    – zwdev2
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 12:51
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    @zwdev2 Many people will get visas which give them a lot more flexibility (and also allow breaking up what is going to be a gruesome experience even in the best of cases... 5 flights in a row, with a mix of long connections and very short ones, without a stop in a hotel room to have some proper sleep, take a shower, change clothes, and relax a bit is just something I wouldn't even consider). I understand visas are not always easy to get, but you seem to have quite some funds, and even though I understand this is not for you, even a US visa is probably possible.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 13:41
  • @zwdev2 Also remember that if both GRU-PTY and PTY-NAS were on the same ticket, they would probably hold the PTY-NAS flight a bit if necessary. Being on two separate tickets, unless they accept to check you through, they won't even have the information in their systems.
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 13:45

Not really an answer to the question but too long for a comment and very important to consider:

Self connection is VERY different from an airline connection. A 1 hour self connection is in my opinion a non-starter. Check in closes 60 minutes before departure and for international flights you need to be at the gate either 30 or 45 minutes before scheduled departure (depending on season) and that's not even accounting for additional Covid doc checks and tests.

That's extremely tight even if everything goes really well. The slightest hiccup will make you miss the connection, leaving you stranded somewhere along the way with no good option to get out of the airport, back home, or onwards to your destination.

If you miss an airline connection, it's the airlines responsibility get you to your final destination, home, or some reasonable alternative at whatever cost and effort required. If you miss a self connection, the responsibility lies entirely with you. None of the airlines have any obligation to help you in any way form or shape.

Personally, I don't do self connects with less than 4 hours even in the best of conditions and your conditions are extremely challenging.

We've been trying to help you here as much as possible but given the high likelihood and the potentially serious consequences of missing this connection, I can only recommend to NOT travel this itinerary. If you absolutely must, try to get a Panama Visa and look the viability of a US transit Visa (as the US is the only way to get to the Bahamas within a week).

  • A visa for Dubai would also be an option, as it is possible to buy a single itinerary for DXB-NAS.
    – thelem
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 15:12
  • Can you give me that single itinerary for DXB to NAS?
    – zwdev2
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 15:29
  • Can you get a US C visa (transit) ? If you can route through the US, there are some very doable single tickets from Colombo to the Bahamas. flights.app.goo.gl/ctxVge / That would also cover DXB to NAS as well.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 16:28
  • Unfortunately, there is no chance for a unemployed single woman in her 30's to receive even a US transit VISA. Also, a lot of embassies are not available in Sri Lanka or they have very reduced services.
    – zwdev2
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 1:10
  • The only other non-US option that I could find is through London and Georgetown (Grand Cayman Island). Sorry, I doubt that you can make this trip without a Visa for an intermediate stop somewhere. Due to Covid, flights are severely restricted and there simply aren't a lot of options. The timing in Panama is unfortunate, but it is what it is.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 14:21

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