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A traveler is trying to check in online for an Austrian airlines itinerary originating in a non-Schengen country, with a change in Vienna, with the final destination being the US. The traveler resides in the US with a G-4 visa, so the immigration suspensions related to COVID-19 do not apply.

Online check-in was refused with this message:

Unfortunately, we have not received travel approval from the US authorities. Please check your entries, in particular the number of your passport.

Needless to say, the numbers of the passport and the G-4 visa have been checked and double checked, as have their expiration dates. Austrian advised that the passenger should check in at the airport.

Questions:

  • Does APIS take into account the type of visa held by a traveler when making the determination whether to return "OK to board"?
  • Is the PCR test requirement somehow enforced through APIS?

My thinking here is that, depending on the answers to these questions, it might be impossible to expect to be able to get an "OK to board" determination without showing the visa or the PCR test results to an actual person.

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    Not an answer because I don't have any specific expertise here, but my experience (as a US citizen with Global Entry for whom things usually go about as smoothly as possible) is that, even outside of covid-19, online checkin for flights with a non-US connection but a US final destination fails like half the time anyway. If the airline says to check in at the airport, the passenger should check in at the airport. – mlc May 15 at 22:37
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    Online check in never worked for me for US flights even without Covid (not a US citizen). – JonathanReez May 16 at 3:41
  • @JonathanReez my wife is frequently able to check in online for flights to the US, though perhaps nearly as frequently she does have trouble with it. – phoog May 16 at 22:27
  • @mlc of course she should check in at the airport. The point of this question is not to find out how the passenger can check in but to understand how APIS works in light of Austrian Airlines' explicitly saying that the failure of this particular online check-in is attributable to APIS. – phoog May 16 at 22:30
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Online check-in for international flights is pretty much non-functional at the moment.

Every country has specific and quickly changing requirements of permission to enter, covid testing, travel registration & approval etc. Automated systems are not keeping up and hence in-person doc check at the airport is required.

In your care case you need a negative PCR test and the airline can't check you in without someone looking at your test documentation.

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  • Thanks. I understand that, but I am asking about the APIS angle here: Is the US APIS system really telling the airline that it can't authorize boarding for this passenger because of the PCR test and because nobody has seen the test "in person"? They don't require an agent to see the passport and visa in person before issuing an online boarding pass, for example. Why is this different (if it is indeed different)? – phoog May 16 at 22:33

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