I booked a flight on Cathay but I was denied boarding from China to Europe via Hong Kong. The operator claimed that I need visa to transit (Syrian national) although I had one single booking and my transfer was only 3 hours and I met the requirements of my final destination.

They forced me to refund the ticket so I lost the refund fees, what can I do in this situation? I am worried that the operator input HK as the final destination just to get rid of me.

Although the IATA system gives the same message to mainland Chinese passengers they still let them transfer through HK to Europe, so why did they deny it to me?

  • 2
    "I am worried that the operator input HK as the final destination just to get rid of me." This seems incredibly unlikely. What would be in it for them that's worth the hassle and bad press?
    – xLeitix
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 10:48

1 Answer 1


According to both Timatic (the system used by most airlines to confirm visa requirements) and the IATA Travel Center a Syrian national DOES require a visa to transit Hong Kong, even if only for a few hours, and even when travelling on a single ticket.

As you did not have a valid visa to transit Hong Kong, you were correctly denied boarding in China.

  • 20
    Note that this is by far not an isolated case. Many European countries similarly have requirements for airport transit visas for nationals of some countries even if they are on a single booking and remain airside.
    – jcaron
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 5:45
  • 6
    Primary source for those interested: part II of immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/visit-transit/… Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 16:20
  • 33
    @Kaz huh what? It’s never been the airline’s responsibility to verify people have the correct visas at the time of buying the ticket. Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 5:27
  • 27
    @Kaz that makes absolutely no sense - airlines check your visa at the time of boarding, since you can very well obtain your visa after purchasing the booking. Hell, having the booking even helps your case for obtaining an US short-stay visa Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 5:51
  • 12
    @Kaz One of the requirements for getting a transit visa is "where the application is for a transit visa/entry permit, he/she holds an onward ticket to the place of his/her destination unless the destination is the Mainland of China or Macao." So in many cases you can't get the transit visa until after you have your tickets. immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/visit_transit.html Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 12:32

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