I booked a return airline ticket for a student to attend a conference in Italy.

Unfortunately, we have just discovered that due to confusion the student has not obtained a visa (he has never travelled abroad before, and thought that the documentation he had from the conference organisers was what he required).

I am trying to arrange cancellation and refund, but it's proving difficult.

Are airlines' procedures different (and are they more lenient or flexible) when dealing with passengers who turn up to check in and discover their papers are in order, than through their call centres?

In other words, if he actually presents himself at the airport is there likely to be more chance of arranging a refund or rebooking?

Needless to say, the ticket is not refundable or rebookable under normal circumstances - we thought his visa was in order.

I'm also pretty sure that I can simply say goodbye to the money, so I am not too hopeful.

  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/83929/…
    – user29788
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 10:41
  • Actually, that link may not be related... :) Its still worth a read.
    – user29788
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 10:43
  • No questions ask they should be able to refund yo money. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 18:28
  • 1
    @DamariousHughes What are you basing this on? A refund seems extremely unlikely to me: obtaining the necessarily visas is the passenger's responsibility. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 21:37
  • You can always change the name on the ticket. So try to sell it online or find some other student who can actually make it there..
    – Sinwatt
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


As your ticket is non-refundable and non-transferable you can only get a refund in case the airline, through no fault of your own, will refuse to serve you. When that happens, you should be entitled to a full refund.

They, of course, will refuse to board the student if he shows up without a valid visa, but that will be because of his fault and will not grant a refund. The best you can make out of this situation is to contact the airline and ask if they can do anything for you. If there still is a reasonable amount of time before the flight and the flight is booked solid, they may be surprisingly flexible as they now may be able to sell the ticket for a higher price. Or maybe they will allow you to transfer the ticket given the circumstances, who knows? Best to give them a call and ask - you have nothing to lose.


I am afraid that unless the student ticket was either booked as a refundable or changeable ticket (you say they did not) or with an airline that specifically allows unconditional refunds in the event of a visa refusal (some do offer that, its in their terms and conditions), then you almost certainly won't get a refund, and there is little you can do to change that.

Presenting themselves at the airport is unlikely to change the situation, they will be refused boarding and that will be that.

I'm sorry, but it doesn't look good :(


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