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Recently, I attempted to fly with China Eastern Airlines after purchasing a round-trip ticket for ONLY 3 days with Trip.com online. I was coming close to completing a 90-day visa in Japan as a United States citizen. The flight departure was on the weekend, Saturday to be exact, and the main immigration branch known as "Office Relocation Notice of Fukuoka Regional Immigration Bureau" in Fukuoka was closed, with only days before the 90-day visa expired.

The flight was from (FUK) airport in Fukuoka Japan, heading to (PKX) airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport, with a transfer in (PVG) Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The China Eastern ticket counter agents would not print a boarding pass without a China visa, and printed a couple of documents, one of which stated "NO HOLD CHINA VISA".

I was only visiting the largest international airport in China to write Google Reviews for hotels, spas, restaurants and shopping stores. This caused a stay in Japan until the last day of the 90-day tourist visa.

The first day the Main Immigration Office was opened in Fukuoka was that Monday after the weekend. I visited and explained the current situation to the immigration staff members with a translator present, in Fukuoka Airport. They assisted by completing an application for a 15-day extension, costing 4,000 yen, cash only. I paid the Ministry of Justice - Government of Japan - Certificate for Payment of Fee (Revenue Stamp). This process took most of the working day, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm before receiving a 15-day extension stamp visa on my United States of America passport.

On some of the documents provided by China Eastern staff, it shows there are "exemptions" for nationals of the USA with a normal passport, and stay of maximum 30 days. With an onward flight, with confirmed onward air, cruise or train ticket to a third country within 144 hours from the day of entry, one can get a TWOV. Another document states that the TWOV facility does NOT apply when passengers arrive on a direct flight from the USA.

Are United States citizens required to have a China visa to visit only an international airport in China, which has its own hotel service, under the 144-hour limit provided in a document by China Eastern?

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    Recommended reading: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… to see the extremely large number of conditions and restrictions on those transit visas
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 5 at 12:48

2 Answers 2

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The 72/144 hour transit without visa facility is for people who are transiting China on their way to a destination outside China. Visaforchina.cn:

2.1 What are the requirements for a 72 hour visa-free transit?

b) The above-mentioned bear a travel document and a confirmed flight ticket to a third country or region (onward journey within 72 hours).

"Region" here is code for Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, which China treats like separate countries for visa purposes.

If I'm parsing your post right, your flights were FUK-PVG-PKX return, which makes Beijing, China your final destination. It is also impossible to stay within the international side of the airport, because PVG-PKX is a domestic flight. You were thus not eligible for a transit visa and China Eastern was correct in stating that you needed a "full" Chinese visa.

Your Japan visa extension saga is irrelevant to all this, but I will tell you this may have been a blessing in disguise. If they had let you go to China, and you returned to Japan basically immediately after using an entire 90-day tourist visa, you would likely have been suspected of visa running to work illegally in Japan and possibly denied entry.

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    Thank you for taking the time to explain the details of why the flight airline China Eastern blocked the flight. This information will be helpful when purchasing airline tickets in the future.
    – BB's Life
    Commented Feb 6 at 11:39
  • @BB'sLife You're most welcome, please select the answer (click the ✔️ mark) that worked best for you! Commented Feb 7 at 2:48
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What you tried to do is not allowed by the TWOV rules. You need to fly in a triangle A-B-C, where:

  1. A is an airport outside the PRC.
  2. B is an airport in the PRC.
  3. C is an airport outside the PRC, AND outside country A.

So for example direct flights Fukuoka-Beijing, then Beijing-Bangkok, ok. Fukuoka-Shanghai, Shanghai-Beijing, no. You cannot fly domestically within China on a TWOV. Fukuoka <> Beijing, return, no. You cannot do a round trip.

So China Eastern was right to deny you boarding.

Also, you said you bought a round-trip ticket, or, in any case, a ticket returning to Fukuoka. Had the China Eastern staff let you board your flight to China, you possibly wouldn't have been allowed back on a flight to Japan, as you are not a resident of Japan, and I assume you didn't have an onwards ticket leaving Japan.

The days of visa runs in that part of Asia are over.

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    Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge on why I wasn't able to fly. I really appreciate the extended information on how to fly A-B-C in order to be within the guidelines of TWOV. This will help for future purchase of tickets when flying internationally. Have a good one.
    – BB's Life
    Commented Feb 6 at 11:44
  • I would like to share that the details in the answer being provided, which helped me understand why this flight was denied a boarding pass. Is the fact that landing in the same country on a second flight. For example: China - Shanghai to Beijing, then becoming a Domestic Flight for airport purpose and procedure. Even though as an international flight passenger, using that flight as a connecting flight when making the ticket purchase. I hope this post helps others when purchasing flight tickets to fly internationally. Green Check for this post too.
    – BB's Life
    Commented Feb 8 at 6:24

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