Theoretical situation: I have a flight with a connection in a country for which I don't have a visa, but the rules allow transit without a visa. However, sometimes it happens that the boarding staff gets too paranoid and/or don't know the rules and deny boarding, even though the rules allow it.

Is the airline obligated to provide compensation in such cases? Does a trip cancellation insurance cover such cases?

  • Whether the carrier is obligated to provide compensation is likely to be a matter of the laws of the nations where the flight begins & ends. I don't know that a general answer exists. Nov 9, 2023 at 17:34
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    Examples of such questions: 183949, 107741, 96090, 151148, 135751, 53193, 141381, 182865. As you can see, it's hard to generalize. Nov 9, 2023 at 17:45
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    Ooh, I have a doubt... Are you talking about actual connecting flights (on a single booking) or a self-transfer (tickets booked separately)?
    – jcaron
    Nov 9, 2023 at 17:57
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    @user626528 Not everybody has the same definition of a connecting flight :-) And he majority of related issues if for people who have "connecting" flights which are actually booked separately (thanks Kiwi). But indeed if both your flights are on the same ticket and if the full trip is covered by EC261 or the like, you are definitely entitled to refund + compensation. For the travel insurance this would depend on the policy.
    – jcaron
    Nov 9, 2023 at 17:59
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    If you have a specific case in mind, search for that country + transit + user:crazydre. They are our local specialist when it comes to border police contacts and making airlines have regrets.
    – jcaron
    Nov 9, 2023 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


Most airlines use Timatic to check visa and transit rules. For the sake of this answer we will assume that this is a single booking, you have a case where Timatic clearly says "travel is ok", and that the airline misread or misinterpreted what Timatic said.

Is the airline obligated to provide compensation in such cases?

That depends very much on the applicable legislation (which in itself can be tricky to determine). In the EU, EC216 should be applicable. The US has legislation for compensation if you are "involuntarily denied boarding" for oversold flights (https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-II/subchapter-A/part-250/section-250.5), but it's unclear if that would also be applicable to "involuntarily denied boarding" because of paperwork issues.

Does a trip cancellation insurance cover such cases?

Again, that will depend on the terms and exclusions of the specific insurance.

The main problem here is the following: if your situation is cut and dry in Timatic, than the likelihood of being denied boarding is miniscule. However, visa rules are notoriously complicated and if you are denied boarding its mostly because the rules are ambiguous, unclear, or open to interpretation.

In most cases the airline will drag their feet, claiming every possible excuse or interpretation of the rules. Even if you are technically entitled to compensation, you may have to drag them into court before they actually pay up. Many airlines routinely deny EC261 claims, even if they are fully justified.

Chances are that most airline will offer a refund and/or travel credit and maybe a few extra miles or points but anything beyond that would require significant work, effort, time and persistence.

  • "than the likelihood of being denied boarding is miniscule" - but still possible, especially if you have a funny passport.
    – user626528
    Nov 10, 2023 at 20:11
  • @user626528: Do you use something like this to verify your "funny" passport requirements? iatatravelcentre.com/… This tends to be VERY accurate.
    – Hilmar
    Nov 11, 2023 at 16:35
  • yes, but st happens anyway.
    – user626528
    Nov 12, 2023 at 17:30

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