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I have booked my tickets on China Southern airline for 1st May for travel from India to USA with a 16 hour stopover in China and my return is on 6th May via China with the same airline.

My passport is expiring on 17th May. As per this link India is exempt from the 6-month rule: https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2016-Nov/Six-Month%20Club%20Update%20_112116.pdf

I also checked this link and it says the same: https://www.skyteam.com/en/flights-and-destinations/visa-and-health/

But just to be sure, I called up the China Southern office in India and the lady there said that even if the US Government rules allow this, the airline has its own rules for having 6 month passport validity for all travelers and that I may not be allowed to board my flight.

Now I am losing my sleep over this because the cancellation charges are more than my monthly salary (the only reason I was able to book the flight was because of promised reimbursement). And if I cancel after refusal to board, the cancellation charges would shoot up to much more.

  1. Can somebody who may have access to Timatic help me out with information on what Timatic says about my case?

  2. Do the China Southern executives at airports usually check Timatic?

  3. Is it possible that the China Southern lady that I talked to was just a front-office person who doesn't know the exact rules/procedure and that I may still be allowed to board the flight?

Thanks so-so-so-so much in advance!!!!!

  • If you follow the link from Wikipedia, you should be able to look it up here: timaticweb.com/cgi-bin/… - But the page seems to be inaccessible at the moment. Note that in addition to the entry requirements for the US, you will also have to meet the requirements for transiting in China - which may be more strict. – DCTLib Apr 25 '17 at 11:27
  • Here's what Timatic says: timaticweb.com/cgi-bin/… – JonathanReez Supports Monica Apr 25 '17 at 11:29
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    The airline which is transporting you unfortunately have the authority to make their own rules. Seems you're out of luck. – user57303 Apr 25 '17 at 11:32
  • In addition to Phantom: usually they prefer simple rules (and on the safer hand). The airline is also responsible in case of delay of flights (think about strikes) and you will have only 11 days. Depending on the class and type of ticket, airline could make exceptions, but if you bought a cheap ticket, it will cost them much more on passing information then your ticket, so I would expect exceptions. – Giacomo Catenazzi Apr 25 '17 at 11:44
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    For Indian citizens, both US and China(transit) only need passports to be valid for the duration of stay. To be safe you can carry a print-out of Timatic advice and show it to the check-in agent if she/he refuses boarding. – RedBaron Apr 25 '17 at 11:51
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As you have already researched, US needs passports of Indian citizens to be valid for the duration of their stay in the US.

This is backed by Timatic advice for your scenario:

Destination - USA

Passport required.
- Passports issued to nationals of India must be valid for the period of intended stay.

However the same advice also states that for your transit point (China)

Transit - China (Peoples' Republic)

All transiting passengers are subject to a check by immigration. Passengers in transit must hold passports or passport replacing documents that are accepted for entry into China (People's Rep.)

So we lookup what sort of passport validity is China expecting again on Timatic and we get

Destination - China (Peoples' republic)

Passport required.
- Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid on arrival.

So it doesn't look like you should have a problem while travelling between India and US (through China) on a soon expiring passport.

Timatic is the IATA web database that is used by most airlines so I would expect your airlines to also look-up your case on it and then pass you through. In case the agent refuses, you should carry a print-out of both the advices linked above (plus the PDF about 6 month club that you already have) and politely ask them to reconsider, speaking, if needed, to the on-duty manager. YMMV but if you absolutely cannot book an alternate flight or get a new passport, then this is the only option that comes to my mind.

It is entirely possible that the lady you spoke to was a person not aware of all the rules and therefore gave you an inaccurate reply.

EDIT:

Looking at the passenger information on the China Southern website

A passport is a document issued by a sovereign state to its citizens that allows them to leave and enter the country, and certifies their nationality and identity when traveling abroad.The personal identity information in the passport must be fully consistent with the contents of the holder's ID card or household register. Holders must ensure that the information in their passport is true and accurate in order for their trip to run smoothly.

Children and infants under two years of age are also required to show their passport.

Some countries or regions require the traveler's passport to have three months to six months of validity beyond the date of travel.

I can't find a mention of the "rules" about the airline wanting passports to be valid for six months anywhere (FAQs and such).

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