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I purchased a round trip from San Diego (SAN) to Bodrum (BJV) on the United Airlines website.

Outbound trip: SAN -> IAD -> FRA -> BJV

Inbound trip: BJV -> MUC -> DEN -> SAN

In order to verify transit visa requirements in Germany, I contacted United and the call person was able to verify that my baggage would be checked through to the final destination for the outbound trip (last leg of the trip is from FRA airport with Lufthansa). No problem there.

However, on the return trip from BJV, the first leg is operated by SunXpress (not part of a Star Alliance). When I contacted them, I was told that I would have to pick up my baggage and check-in again to make a transfer to the United flight at Munich airport. That would essentially eliminate any airside connection possibility and, at minimum, require a German visitor visa. And, it's completely contrary to what is displayed on the United Airlines website under travel requirements: German transit visa requirement is listed; German Transit Passport (?) listed but not marked as required.

Does anybody know if this connection is even possible at Munich without picking up my baggage after the first flight, going through German immigration and customs, changing terminals, and checking in at United again?

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  • What is the flight number of your BJV-MUC flight? If it's a codeshare, Star Alliance/United rules should apply even if the operating carrier is not a *A member. Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 2:22
  • @lambshaanxy BJV - MUC flight number is XQ636. Others are UA761 and UA765.
    – Burak
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 4:32
  • A tripadvisor post from 2019
    – Burak
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 5:42
  • Another one
    – Burak
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 5:55

2 Answers 2

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Tricky.

Apparently Sunexpress does have an interlining agreement with United so it's technically possible to transfer your bags. However United operates out of Terminal 2 and SunExpress out of Terminal one. There is a non-Schengen shuttle bus, so you can get from your arrival to the departure gate without having to pass through immigration and customs, but I don't know whether they will cart your bags between terminals.

I would call United and have them confirm (if possible, in writing) that they will interline the bags in Munich. I would press them hard on this: Yes, it's your responsibility to have the right documents, but they have issued the ticket and they need to provide you with sufficient information to determine what documents you actually need.

You can also give Sunexpress a second call and talk to a different agent: Make sure you mention that this is a single ticket and that SunExpress has an interlining agreement with United.

Sources:

  1. Interlining (2021) : https://www.routesonline.com/news/29/breaking-news/296946/sunexpressseeks-airline-partnerships-cee-expansion/#:~:text=SunExpress%20already%20interlines%20with%20United,of%20the%20Egyptian%20carrier's%20aircraft.)
  2. Munich Terminal Shuttle : https://www.munich-airport.com/connecting-flights-260553
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  • United was able to confirm the outbound trip only on the call. I had already raised the single ticket question during the SunExpress call but the response did not change. The problem is SunExpress won't even provide boarding passes for your connections. This means you are not eligible for a German transit visa. According to German regulations, you need, at minimum, a visitor visa if you have to pick up your baggage, or if you have to check-in again. Even without a baggage an airside connection is not possible. The lesson is: stay away from these subsidiaries if you have connections.
    – Burak
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 18:49
  • There is a non-Schengen shuttle bus, so you can get from your arrival to the departure gate without having to pass through immigration and customs, but I don't know whether they will cart your bags between terminals. -> What would be the point of this bus otherwise? Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 5:27
  • @JacobHorbulyk: there plenty of airlines partners that transport bags between terminal 1 and terminal 2. For example Emirates (T1) interlines with TAP Portugal (T2). But not all all airline combinations do this.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 23:00
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One solution and indeed the only solution I can imagine is to change the ticket to fly Izmir / Antalya / Ankara instead because SunExpress and Lufthansa have codeshares on these specific routes.

https://www.sunexpress.com/en/company/media-center/press-releases/sunexpress-expands-successful-codeshare-partnership-with-lufthansa/

But I am not sure whether your ticket is changeable , usually they are not :(

and of course Izmir is another 2.5hrs drive from Bodrum so this is very far from ideal.

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    I had to explain the situation and got United to rebook the return trip from IST instead. Needless to say, it was still a mess to get this fixed. United is not necessarily the culprit here because it is Lufthansa selling these tickets. The end result is that the passenger is grossly misled. For others reading this post later, stay away from these subsidiary airlines if you have to make connections. You buy a single ticket hoping you can travel transit and have some vacation time but you end up as Viktor Navorski from Krakozhia.
    – Burak
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 18:57

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