My girlfriend lives in Moscow and only has a Russian passport/Russian citizenship.

I was born and live in NYC and am a US citizen only.

We are getting together once a month, but every time I have a problem with her flights, I bought a flight from Moscow to cancun that went through JFK, turns out she can't transit through ANY US airport without a visa (this is called a "sterile" transit without clearing customs and immigration) so she cannot travel on the booking I made for her.

So is there any way I can get my girlfriend from Moscow to Jamaica avoiding the USA?

  • 1
    Go through London. I mean you can check online at skyscanner or kayak.
    – Karlson
    Feb 2, 2016 at 3:05
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    As you've learned, the US doesn't do sterile transits at all. Feb 2, 2016 at 4:06
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    Could she try to get a US visa? The refusal rate for Russians is comparatively low (7.8% in 2014), so she's likely to have a decent shot if she can show sufficient ties to Russia. Feb 2, 2016 at 4:13
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    Exactly, it's not that sterile Transit requires a visa - rather, sterile Transit in the US DOESN'T EXIST, partly due to the fact that there's also no Exit immigration
    – Crazydre
    May 27, 2016 at 18:29

2 Answers 2


Just avoid any US-based airline; and you will not have any stops in the US. Your Aeroflot flight was a codeshare with American, which is why it had a stop in JFK.

You might also want to avoid any code-share flights with Canadian airlines; since Canada does not offer TWOV (transit without visa) for Russian citizens.

You can fly British Airways (assuming your girlfriend can transit through the UK) and take BA2263, a direct flight from Gatwick to Kingston.

You can also take KLM757 from Amsterdam to Panama, then COPA418 to Kingston.

Just avoid any US or Canadian flagged airlines and you should be okay.

You can use tools like Google flight search to see what airlines fly the routes. The link takes you to a search for flights departing all airports in Moscow to both Montego Bay (MBJ) and Kingston (KIN).

  • 3
    What have you got against Canadian airlines? Air Canada has flights daily from Toronto to Kingston, another to Montego Bay, one that stops in Grand Cayman and others from Montreal. None of them touch down in the US. Feb 2, 2016 at 4:04
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    Chances are high that if the traveler needs visa for transit through US they will need the same for transit through Canada as well. Feb 2, 2016 at 4:08
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    I think OP's girlfriend probably needs a visa for transit in the UK in this case. Aeroflot and BA both arrive at Heathrow, so she'd need to clear immigration there before heading on to Gatwick. Easyjet still fly Moscow-Gatwick until mid-March 2016, so that might be an option without checked luggage, haven't checked timings.
    – EdC
    Feb 2, 2016 at 12:12

You could fly to Frankfurt and take Condor 2162 to Montego Bay (MBJ). Edit: you can find tons of flights from Montego Bay to Europe here. As you can see flying to Kingston has much less options.

The best avoid-EU option is to take SU150 to Havana, Cuba and then Blue Panorama Airlines BV 1302 to Montego Bay. This is only on Wednesdays and it's not clear whether you can buy a ticket for this section only. The flight exists but the Blue Panorama website doesn't offer a ticket. A phone call to Blue Panorama is in order. Otherwise, take KG6081 to Montego Bay (via Holguin, Cuba) also on Wednesdays only but you need to fly on Tuesday to get there on time. Russian citizens do not need a visa to Cuba (noone should be surprised) which makes this option superb alluring if you don't want to mess with visas. If the BV1302 section is available this also must be the fastest option.

Or connect via Panama to Kingston (no visa needed either) or Grand Cayman to Montego Bay (I do not know the visa situation for this option).

Another long way around the EU is to fly to Dubai take Emirates to Panama City (longest commercial flight in the world) and Copa to Kingston.

  • The question is about avoiding the US, which doesn't allow sterile transits. Most of this answer is about avoiding the EU, where sterile transits are commonplace. Am I missing anything? Feb 2, 2016 at 7:26
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    Well, I guess Russian citizens don't need a Schengen transit visa, do they? Still, going through Cuba might actually be the fastest option if that section is available. And this answer might be useful if you are a citizen of a country which do need a Schengen transit visa. And that whole KG airline is missing from the typical search engines. So there's quite a bit of useful info in here.
    – user4188
    Feb 2, 2016 at 8:02
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    "Well, I guess Russian citizens don't need a Schengen transit visa, do they?" - they don't, that's why I wrote my comment. In all, the list of countries whose nationals require a Schengen transit visa is really short. With that in mind, at least administratively, I'm not sure why "going through Cuba might actually be the fastest option", as you don't have to wait for any immigration checks while transiting. Feb 2, 2016 at 18:24

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