I am a UK citizen, resident in Austria. When I was boarding a flight from London to Austria the other day my boarding pass was rejected at the gate ("Unable to board") and I was asked to show my proof of residence and then allowed to board. My interpretation was that they somehow knew how many days I had been in the EU (but not about my residency) and wanted to ensure that I hadn't broken the 90/180 day rule.

So my question is: how does the airline know about my travel history to suspect me of breaking this rule? I fly with BA infrequently but do return to the UK 3-4 times per year for short stays.

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    Not even Austria or the EU know how much time you have spent there, so there is no reasonable way for BA to find out. I am not sure if UK authorities track how much time you spend abroad but even if they do, I would doubt that BA has access to that information. Commented Mar 6 at 10:15
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    Airlines are not tasked with enforcing overstay regulations, I doubt this is for that reason Commented Mar 6 at 11:00
  • When you provided API information (passport number etc.) did you specify that you had a residence permit?
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 6 at 12:01
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    @xngtng my return flights were in the other direction (VIE–LHR, LHR–VIE): it was on the return leg they wanted to see my residence card.
    – user13190
    Commented Mar 6 at 13:15
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    @user13190 That might have been why or contributed to it. I got questioned when I was travelling back from Canada as a Canadian citizen on a return flight to EU, on BA too.
    – xngtng
    Commented Mar 6 at 15:23

1 Answer 1


Absolutely no certainty about this, but this is probably due to the fact your trip was booked from Vienna and you were on the return leg.

This means you don't have a return ticket (to leave Austria as a UK citizen) they know of. Now while the Schengen rules don't actually require you to have a return/onward ticket to leave the Schengen Area when you are a visitor (they instead require that you have the means to leave the Schengen Area, having a ticket out being just one way to demonstrate that), Timatic still states:


Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry.

And some airlines are known to take that as "you must have a return/onward ticket".

So now they could ask you for a return/onward ticket, but:

  • This is the return trip on a VIE-LHR-VIE trip
  • It was probably booked from Vienna
  • Maybe you even have an address in Vienna registered with them

So, all in all, it is much more likely that you are a resident in Austria rather than someone going there as a visitor, so instead, they ask for the residence permit. I suppose if you had told them you didn't have one they would have switched to asking for a ticket.

  • "so instead, they ask for the residence permit": they might well accept proof of onward travel as well. I doubt they they pay much attention to the probability that someone is a resident in the Schengen area; I imagine they require this of anyone for whom the "return/onward ticket" message is triggered when that traveler's ticketed itinerary ends in the Schengen area.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 6 at 17:04
  • @phoog Yes, I'm quite certain they will accept that (that's what I tried to imply in the last sentence). I suppose they have some criteria which made them ask for the residence permit first rather than proof of return/onward travel. But maybe when they do ask, they always start with residence permit first. Who knows...
    – jcaron
    Commented Mar 6 at 17:24
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    I do wonder if BA would've been on the hook for compensation if they refused to board OP due to not showing any documents. The Timatic entry is a bit ambiguous on whether its a hard requirement or not.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 6 at 18:55
  • @JonathanReez As someone liaising with TIMATIC I can confirm "could be refused entry" is purely informative and doesn't imply a requirement to hold a specific document. Lots of handling agents don't get this however. I believe compo would take a court case, and would entirely depend on what specific judge it lands with
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 6 at 23:26
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    @jcaron "And some airlines are known to take that as "you must have a return/onward ticket". Correction: some handling agents. The airline may (or may not) have one policy, while their various subcontractors do their own thing. easyJet got to learn that the hard way after all the times having to intervene for me.
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 6 at 23:30

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