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Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

Isla de Margarita
posts: 1,044
reviews: 36
Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

I know this forum is frequented by people from the travel and airline industry-

Tell me if I am off base on this complaint.

Months ago I purchased a round trip ticket from American Airlines for travel on 14/10/12 from Caracas, Venezuela to Bangkok, Thailand.

The booking took me from Caracas to New York (JFK) via San Juan, P.R. In JFK I was to transfer to Cathay Pacific for my New York-Hong Kong-Bankok portion.

No problems till arriving JFK tpo check into a 1:30 a.m. flight on 15/10/12.

Upon check-in, in spite of my bags being checked to Bangkok and having been issued boarding passes all the way to Bangkok,

I was refused boarding due to the fact that I had no visa for Thailand.

After purchasing my tickets in June of 2012, I researched the requirements for United States citizens traveling to Thailand and, according to the Royal Thailand Consulates web site (N.Y.) it stated clearly that U.S. citizens where eligable for a "visa on arrival" which means no visa needed to be secured before travel.

Just to be sure I checked the web site of Cathay Pacific Airways and it clearly states : NO VISA REQUIRED for U.S. citizens.

In spite of this I was refused boarding by Cathay Pacific personel in JFK.

This meant that at 2 a.m. after the flight had left at 1:30 a.m. I had to find a hotel and go into Manhattan the following day to secure the visa at the Thai consulate- a process that took all day and incurred considerable costs.

At the Thai consulate, when I explained my case and showed the related documents to Thai consulate (passport and tickets) they asked why I was there and that I needed no visa to enter Thailand as a tourist!!!

I secured the visa only to appease the C.P. people.

Upon return to JFK with visa in hand I asked to talk to the station manager (a different person from the one that refused me boarding) and was told: quote "that was a bad call by the manager on watch last night!!!

Please you experts out there help me on this one.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 27,758
1. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

Have a look at the CP forum on Flyertalk - or post your tale there - as they are more likely to have knowledge of getting redress. What's really surprising is that airline staff have access to a database of visa requirements and so should know that US citizens can have a VOA. And the US State Department's advice says that also - unless your passport has less than 6 months to run or you were intending staying over 30 days. The only other thing I can think of is that if you are from one of the US "colonies" then your citizenship might be fully US - though I thought that had been sorted out in 1917



Also ensure that you keep EVERY receipt for anything you bought as a result of the delay

Edited: 8:21 am, October 18, 2012
posts: 2,788
reviews: 7
2. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

What was the date of your return flight?

Cookham Dean...
Destination Expert
for Prague, Bohemia
posts: 23,925
3. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

Did you travel with your wife? She has a Venezuelan passport....


Edited: 8:30 am, October 18, 2012
Florida - Alaska...
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Province, Outdoors / Adventure Travel
posts: 3,662
reviews: 1
4. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

Based on the post Tilly referenced it seem that you may hold dual citizenship? If so, which passport did you use when you checked onto your first flight with? If you used your Venezuelan passport, then that passport is in your booking record and that is could be what the airline staff may have used to refuse your boarding (though the originating check in crew, should have also checked that). And if that passport is in your record, it could also limit any claim you have against the airline.

If you used your US passport all the way, then write a polite but detailed letter to the airline with copies of your receipts. They might offer you a voucher towards future travel, but don't get your hopes up for much more.

Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 14,145
reviews: 71
5. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me


I agree with #4... System limitations mean that in most cases, you can only "use" one passport for manifest purposes-- and this 'manifesting' is what drives a carrier to deny you boarding or otherwise based on TIMATIC processing which is how most refusals are identified.. and also how destination countries pre-clear incoming passengers as well..

With that said, IF you traveled under and submitted a VE passport at the point of ORIGIN-- then in most all cases, that information is what is transmitted down-line to all other segments on that booking..

Since it's clear that VE passport holders DO need visas for TH entry, but US passport (among many others) do NOT require visas*, I think the question will be-- what status did CX see you as being at JFK? Were you classified as a VE national or a US national?

IF that's as a VE national, then it appears based on what you've written CX acted correctly and in accordance with what is currency Thai MoFA regulations over VE nationals.. HOWEVER, IF you were shown as a US national, then I think CX erred..

(*for travel as a tourist and meeting the various other requirements)

Therefore, I think, like #4, it really hinges on what did CX show as being your passport details at that time..

A point of note, CX does NOT have an obligation to check with you, or inquire with you, if you hold a second passport or otherwise-- while that would be a good pro-active idea and one that would (and I suspect probably would have) remedied your issue right there at JFK; you the passenger do ultimately bear final responsibility to insure that your travel details are correctly shown in their systems (to the extent you provide data like passport selection if applicable) and that given your travel status, that you hold all necessary entry paperwork for your final destination and/or any en-route transit points, if applicable.

Therefore, I really do think -- based on what's known or disclosed to this point -- the question will be-- what status did CX "see" you as being at JFK? Were you classified as traveling under a VE passport, or a US passport?

As a side note, most passenger interline agreements-- like AA's with CX-- do have language about how any fines and other consequences for carriage of a non-admissible passenger are dealt with.. but in most cases, the bulk of, if not all, of the fines does end up being the final carrier's liability..

Travel Safe,

Edited: 9:18 am, October 18, 2012
posts: 311
reviews: 7
6. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

I would guess the OP should have entered USA using the US passport: I understand it is a requirement for dual citizens. Also, the OP had already had the boarding pass for the flight from JFK (<<having been issued boarding passes all the way to Bangkok>>). To my feeling, this suggests that they should have shown the "correct" (US) passport at the original check-in in Caracas.

Is there any chance that for whatever reason the OP needed to show both passports at the check-in in Caracas, and the check-in agent entered the VE passport details in the system?

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 27,758
7. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

< To my feeling, this suggests that they should have shown the "correct" (US) passport at the original check-in in Caracas. >

If OP has Venezuelan citizenship then they need to enter & leave Venezuela on a Venezuelan passport. This is pretty much standard throughout the world and OP would have had to enter and leave the US on their US passport.

From the looks of it the first manager looked at the manifest for the flight from the US and saw "Venezuelan, needs visa" and denied the boarding without checking if OP had another passport.

Definitely a complaint to the powers that be in CP.

Dublin, Ireland
posts: 194
reviews: 3
8. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

Why would the OP research Thai visa requirements for US passport holders and then proceed to make the booking using the Venezuelan passport details? Even if it was necessary to use the Venezuelan passport to exit that country was it first established that it would be a problem to do so while using the other passport details on the travel itinerary?

Either way it sounds like a counscious decision in respect of the dual citizenship issue and the choice of passport on the travel itinerary been required of the OP during the booking process and this conscious decision would have alerted the OP to the potential conflict that might arise as a result (and did arise at JFK). I'm not casting doubt on the story but the narrative doesn't quite add up. Were Cathay staff at JFK notified of the dual citizenship issue?

Fortaleza, CE
posts: 7,968
reviews: 378
9. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

What help are you seeking? Trip is over, right? Are you seeking compensation fromt eh airline and are looking for evidence to back you up? Or are you looking for info for future trips?

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 48,335
reviews: 15
10. Re: Cathay Pacific refusal to board me

Whilst it is suggested that those with dual citizenship (one of which is US) use their US passport to enter and depart the States, it is not a requirement.

I have travelled with a friend who holds US and Canadian citizenship; he crosses borders with the latter passport (by land and at airports) frequently and without any problems.