Wrongfully Denied Boarding

Hi folk, hope you are all well.

My girlfriend and I have had an unfortunate experience with Norweigian Airlines recently (not the first time I've had bother with them) and I'm wondering what you guys think about it.

So, my girlfriend is a South African citizen and was working in Miami, US on a short term work away program. I live in Scotland and I'm a British Citizen (I'd say Scottish citizen but, rather not go there!). My girlfriend currently has a Standard Visitor Visa for the UK that expires 15/02/18. We planned for her to fly from Miami to Edinburgh, so we booked a ticket through an agency, Kiwi, and that trip was from FLL airport to Edinburgh, via Barcelona. As an RSA citizen, we believe that she does not require anairport transit visa for Spain as she wouldn't be leaving the precise terminal bulding.

But, she tried to check in at the norweigian airlines desk and they told her they wouldn't let her board unless she got the airport transit visa, which required her going to the Miami Consulate. They told her to go there. She wouldn't have made it back in time to catch the flight. They said the only alternative was that she pay $500 for a flight that left 24hrs later and only got her to London. She phoned me upset in the middle of the night and I had to book an alternative flight leaving from another airport that got her here a day later at a cost of £400. She was exhausted and stressed and really uncomfortable! She spoke to other Norweigian Airlines staff at the other airport and they were shocked at how she had been treated.
We're writing a draft of a complaint letter and starting to go through the complaints procedure.
Any advice from anyone?
Really appreciated!


  • jpsartrejpsartre Forumite
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    Did she have separate tickets? If so, that might have played a role.
  • Hey man,
    FLL to Barcelona was on Norwegian airlines and Barcelona to Edinburgh was vueling airlines. They were booked at the same time on kiwi.com, who’ve we’ve sent a refund request to also but they said it’s up to Norwegian airlines.
  • unforeseenunforeseen Forumite
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    But were they separate tickets?
  • I would imagine it was separate tickets so she technically wouldn't have been in transit so she would have needed a visa in Spain. Airline staff were correct if so.
  • Kiwi offer quite a unique model, in that they offer non protected routes but guarantee to reroute you in case of delay or cancellation. However they do (rightly) state that it is for the passenger to ensure they have the correct visa. This is all very clear on their website.

    I'd agree with Gleeful, OP did not have the correct visa for the routing, and any refund will be a goodwill gesture (and unlikely).
  • Thanks guys for your advice! We had staff at the other airport tell her that she should’ve been allowed to board, but we’ll wait and see. At the very least, we hope to highlight the customer service from Norwegian at FLL.
  • jpsartrejpsartre Forumite
    4.1K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    Norwegian's contract was to get your girlfriend to BCN and as such, they needed to ensure that she satisfied the appropriate entry requirements into Spain (or Schengen). The root of the problem was booking separate tickets from a shonky 3rd party site.
  • Caz3121Caz3121 Forumite
    15.2K Posts
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    kiwi cobble together separate tickets. They cover themselves on their website
    Airport transit visas — if your passport typically requires a visa to visit most countries, then you need to do your research before booking a trip. Even if you’re just transiting through a country, you’ll usually need a visa. This is especially true when flying with multiple airlines, low-cost airlines, and when you have multiple PNR numbers in your booking.
    If you’re missing a visa, the airlines may not allow you on board which could leave you stranded at an airport

    A visa is required for a South Africa passport holder arriving in Spain so the airline were correct to deny boarding
    If she was checking baggage she would have had to go landside and enter Spain to collect it for rechecking with Vueling
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