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I was flying from JFK (New York) to Casablanca, Morocco on Lufthansa with my dog. The only reason I was flying on Lufthansa, is they have the best track record for handling pets out of any of the airlines who fly to Casablanca. I am planning to have my dog in Morocco for 1 year, however, just I, will have to go back and forth between the US and Morocco every month or so (on a direct flight, which Lufthansa does not offer)....

So, when I made my reservation, I originally only planned on a one-way ticket, as I am not sure of when my dog will exactly return to the US. But, they told me on the phone it would be much cheaper to purchase a flexible roundtrip ticket. So I had the representative book my return flight for a random day in about 10 months.

When I arrived at JFK with my dog, they told me they couldn't print my ticket because Morocco requires a visa for stays over 3 months (which I already know....) I explained to them that I will be going back and forth in between the flight I booked through them, but with a different airline. They told me they couldn't print my ticket unless I called and rebooked the ticket for a stay of 1 month or less... So, being in a stressful situation, I called. I had to incur over $600 in fees to change my flights to a date that I won't even use.

Are they allowed to do this? I want to call them to argue and try to get my money back... Will I have any chance or is it a waste of my time?

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    Visas are always your responsibility, never the airlines – Gagravarr Oct 15 '15 at 12:36
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    Also, why didn't you show the proof of the departure on the other airline? The first airline and the Moroccans just wanted proof that you'd be leaving – Gagravarr Oct 15 '15 at 14:23
  • Not only are they allowed to, they are pretty much compelled to. – DJClayworth Oct 15 '15 at 16:44
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    I hope you have checked that a trip to the US every month or so is enough for the Moroccans to consider you don't need a visa. If you were doing that from Morocco to the US, the US would not allow it. – DJClayworth Oct 15 '15 at 16:45
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    I did show proof of my arrangements on a different airline. I've been in Morocco for 2 weeks and go back this week. Lufthansa didn't care. – Rachel Oct 17 '15 at 9:19
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I realize it is far too late now, but you mishandled this. You should not have rebooked your existing ticket. What you should have done was purchased an additional fully refundable Lufthansa ticket from Morocco to Frankfurt for three weeks out. This will demonstrate to Lufthansa that when you arrive in Morocco, you will likely be admitted. When you do in fact get to Morocco, of course, cancel that ticket and get the refund.

Don't forget: every gate, the agent deals with thousands of passengers on hundreds of flights going to dozens of countries. Often, they don't know the ins-and-outs of the relevant laws, but they do know how much trouble they will get in if they break one, so they tend to be overcautious.

You could not have known that they would insist on seeing not only proof of onward travel, but onward travel with the same airline. Once you found out though, you should not have forgotten a cardinal rule of budget travel: don't screw with an existing booking.

  • If I were to give her advice about what to do now, I think the only helpful thing to say would be "don't do that again", which is not that helpful. "Good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment." – Malvolio Nov 14 '16 at 22:16
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You can make a complaint but you don't have much chance of getting your money back. The airline will claim that it is your responsibility to follow visa policy and will ignore the nicety that you were not intending to breach the visa policy.

For what it's worth, you did not do anything wrong (except the throw-away ticketing), but the check in staff are now very poorly trained to handle such things and are often quite risk averse.

However, what you can do is change your ticket again to be on a date or to a destination that is more useful to you, so you at least obtain some value from the ticket.

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