uk – Transit Without Visa through Heathrow for travel from Canada – is it still valid during COVID?

I am a Canadian permanent resident with Indian passport. I will be traveling on BA flight from Toronto to Mumbai on a single ticket which has a layover of 23 hours in London. This means I would have to leave Heathrow.

I tweeted Heathrow Airport and asked them about the quarantine mandate (Canada is not on the exempt list) and they said I am exempt from the 14 day quarantine as long as I quarantine for my entire stay in London (just a night) and travel only from Heathrow to hotel and hotel back to Heathrow to take the connecting flight.

However, just to be sure, I wanted to check if anyone has been through a similar situation in recent times and if they had any trouble at the UK border?

Traveling to Europe with US refugee travel document

I will use my US refugee travel document and need to know whether it is machine readable?

At the bottom of the photo page of a machine-readable passport or travel document, there are two lines of coded gibberish including upper-case letters, numbers, and <<<< characters, as in this example:

Example

You would be able to recognize your name in the first line and your date-of-birth and the document’s expiry date somewhere in the second line. These lines are what the machine actually reads.

When it’s time to check in for my flight, will I be able to use the Delta kiosk at the airport to scan my passport to get my boarding pass. If I go to the check in counter, will they enter the passport information manually, or can they scan it?

Probably the kiosk will scan it fine. Otherwise the check-in desk certainly can.

What else would I need to take, just in case, to show the airlines and passport control in Germany that I can enter Germany visa free for up to 90 days?

See the question that Zach linked to.

Once they stamp my passport in Germany, will I be able to go by train to Belgium and the Netherlands. If the authorities stop the train by the border and check my document, will I be alright? What about going to other countries, like Spain or Italy; would I have issues flying there if I am already inside the Schengen area?

According to the linked question above, Belgium and the Netherlands would be OK.

Neither Spain nor Italy allows visa-free travel on US refugee travel documents (this is a question that is not harmonized at the EU level), so even though you may be able to go there without being stopped at the border/airport, you wouldn’t be lawfully present and could get into trouble if local police took an interest in you for any reason. Which kind of trouble is unclear; it could range from a fine to being detained and subsequently banned from the entire Schengen area.

Whether you could fly to Spain or Italy depends on the airline. Ryanair, for example, is (in)famous for insisting on verifying the visa status on foreigners on Schengen-internal flights; some other airlines take a more laissez-faire approach, as long as you document you’re the person a ticket was bought for.

air travel – For UK/USA bound flights, are details entered during online check-in, such as date of birth or passport number ever checked by airlines/immigration?

Is passenger information (as entered during online check-in) other than name and visa ever validated by airlines?

For US/UK flights the information you entered during online check-in seem to be always thrown away. What seem to happen in practice nowadays is that your passport is always scanned/swiped during the “document check” (which happens either during check-in, or at the gate) and the information you have entered during online checkin is overwritten. The gate agent explained it was faster for them to do it this way than cross-check the data and correct mistakes. You can watch it yourself when they do it.

Is that information ever validated by immigration?

It depends on how you define “validated” (I assume we’re mostly concerned about the practical aspect, i.e. “what happens if the airline transmitted the incorrect information I entered, and it doesn’t match my documents?)”. However some of us routinely travel with two passports, and usually the information from only one of them is transmitted. For example, I routinely fly to Istanbul showing only the US passport to the airline, but enter Turkey using a different passport (which the airline knows nothing about) – never had any issues.

Even if they did, you can’t be blamed for this because you did not transmit this information to immigration yourself. More, the law puts this responsibility (and liability) on airlines, not on you. If they let the inaccurate information through, it is their fault – and their fine.

Update: last month I have requested (FOIA) the CBP arrival records for my Mom, and they had inaccuracies. In one case she missed the flight and took a later flight 7 days late, but CBP had record of her arrival in USA on the date of the missed flight – and this arrival was NOT recorded in CBP database. Thus it is pretty evident that this information is not checked at least by US immigration.

Will you be denied on-board because you’ve made a mistake during
check-in?

Every time I get a new passport, when I do online checkin, I typically make mistakes in passport number and the expiration day. It has never been a problem, and I was never denied boarding. This included multiple flights to USA/UK.

Final: since the data you entered during online checkin is always overwritten during the document check, it is impossible to be denied boarding for the mistakes/typos made during online checkin*. Even if for some reason the airline decides to verify it, they would simply enter the correct the data and let you through. As mentioned in previous version of this answer, I have done this in 2016, and I have done it a lot in 2017 (being pissed off that airline requires you to enter a shitload of data which they throw away anyway).

(*) of course you can still be denied boarding for other reasons, like bringing a wrong passport. But this was not the scope of the questions.

eu – Train fare 4 Euros higher for travel to airport than to its two adjacent stations

Is it legal to have a higher train fare for travel to/from airport when adjacent stops are way cheaper?

I frequently travel to an airport that is connected to its serving city by rail service.
A one way train fare to/from the airport to/from the city is 5 Euros. It’s roughly a 15 minutes train ride.
However, travelling on the same identical train that stops at the airport and boarding/alighting from any of the adjacent stops costs 1.10-1.20 Euros.

E.g.

  • 1 station before the airport’s station to the city: 1.20 Euros
  • Airport’s station to the city: 5 Euros
  • 1 station after the airport’s station to the city: 1.10 Euros

I find the 5 Euros fare quite good compared to some prices that can be found elsewhere. However, I don’t find this to be ethical and was wondering if there might be any justification for the 450% higher rate (e.g. arguing that the airport’s station infrastructure is what adds to train fare).
If this is indeed Price Discrimination, is it legal?

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schengen – Travel Spain-Poland – Travel Stack Exchange

I had a scheduled flight on Sept. 18 to Wroclaw to start my PhD program.

Poland banned direct flights from Spain (https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/informacje-dla-podrozujacych), so the only option left is doing transit on Franfurt (Lufthansa flight).

In the airport webpage (https://www.frankfurt-airport.com/en/news/information-on-the-coronavirus.html) it stated that quarantine requirement does not apply to travellers in transit through Germany. But in the Bundespolizei page there is some points I do not understand very well (https://www.bundespolizei.de/Web/DE/04Aktuelles/01Meldungen/2020/03/200317_faq.html?nn=5931604#doc13824392bodyText9). The point 3. is the problem, as far as I understand, Traveling within Schengen zone (to Poland) does not require an exemption from travel restrictions, or that is what I understand reading the webpage of the Polish government linked above.

Does this means I should have no problems (or will not need additional confirmations) with my flights?

Sorry if the question seems too trivial but I want to be as sure as possible. Thanks in advance.

safety – How to find safe places to travel during the pandemic?

Having recently returned form vacation, allow me to offer the opposite perspective on travel as the other answer. Having postponed two trips earlier in the year due to airline cancellations and covid restrictions, I pushed my vacation dates as far as possible to increase my odds of safe travel but eventually came the deadline when the choice was between using my vacation days or losing them. Depending on the law where you are, it is possible you are faced with the same situation.

Normally, travelling is nothing but exciting for me but this time I was incredibly worried and repeatedly checked things to reassure myself that my safety while travelling was similar to that of staying home.

The first step is what looks like a self-correcting problem: Places with high incident of covid-19 put in place heavy restrictions on travelers. Other than a few outliers who deny the pandemic, those that are open to travelers are both safer and consider people from where you are coming from more likely to be safe. This made it a very short list to start with. At the time, there were about 13 countries that allowed Canadian travelers like myself. Among those 10 had lower covid incidence.

Step 1: Find countries that you are allowed to go to.

The next step was to determine if there was a direct international flight or connecting flights which allowed me to reach a destination without going through a country that was not on the list obtained from the previous step. This cut down the working set by more than half.

Step 2: Discard countries that you cannot reach without passing through a country you are not allowed to travel to, even if transit is allowed. This is because any problem with flights, including cancellation of the second leg would result in a difficult situation.

Given that the remaining countries are comparable to the safety of staying home, any one would do. Remember, there are chances that you are not completely safe already where you are and the only reasonable expectation is to not lower your level of safety.

There is no way to absolutely certain to be safe, one must judge yourself an acceptable risk level.

Many countries require proof of a negative covid test taken within a certain number of hours before the flight, often 72h, but sometimes as few as 24h. This made it impractical because it takes time to get test results back and it is really difficult here to be guaranteed to have them without such tight window. When I took the test here after returning, it took 4 days to get it back due to high level of demands, even though it was advertised as little as 2 days.

Step 3: Discard countries from the list for which you cannot be certain to provide them with test results within the required time-frame.

After this step, the list came down to three. One was eliminated due to excessive flight costs and the other because it seemed way too hot, above 40C at the time while I managed to stay within 32-38C for end-of-summer travel.

Once I decided and bought the tickets, I check the rules every day to make sure there was no change. Additionally, I started reading local news from my destination regularly to keep ahead of developments.

A huge part in safety is your own behavior and preparation. To stay safe, I took washable masks to wear each day, one disposable mask per day, sanitizing wipes, latex gloves and a large quantity of sanitizing gel. It turns out what was needed the most were masks as the hot weather made me want to change them twice a day, so I hand-washed them in the evenings. I barely used my own sanitizer or alcohol wipes because every place I entered had their own station with sanitizing gel which visitors were required to use. Gloves and wipes were frequently provided.

air travel – COVID-19 canceled flight (Norwegian from Spain to Finland), refund request accepted, still not received?

I made a flight reservation with Norwegian back in June 2020 for flying from Spain to Finland in August 2020 (I hold EU citizenship).

Some weeks later, still in June 2020, I got notified that my flight was canceled (likely due to the current COVID-19 pandemic). Thus, I chose the option of reimbursement for the flight cost.

The total cost of the purchase was split between Norwegian Reward Points and actual money (roughly 150 EUR). As of October 2020, neither have the Norwegian Reward Points been reimbursed to my account nor have I received my money back.

I have called Norwegian’s customer service several times throughout the months: at first, I was told that due to the high amount of reimbursement demands, I would likely have to wait until the end of the summer for my money to be reimbursed; I have afterward called more times and I have gotten told that due to privacy concerns, the customer service agents cannot see any further information other than the fact that “the reimbursement has been approved and it will be handled”.

What are my customer rights? When can I expect to get my money back from Norwegian? What kind of action could I take given these circumstances?

air travel – Do the UK or the Italian government keep a registry of entries/exits for EU citizens?

Italy doesn’t record entry/exit for EU/EEA citizens.

Italy is member of the Schengen Area, so their rule apply first.

According to this Wikipedia page, recording the entry and exit is not required. GDPR, in particular, requires that all personal data processing are done only when they are required by a need or regulation.

If you are a EU/EEA citizen, which includes Italy, there is no need to record about your travel.

Excerpt from Wikipedia

Please do not confuse this with the systematic passport control even for the EU/EEA citizens. Border Police needs to scan your passport to ensure it is not stolen and there is no arrest warrant on your name both on Local and European databases.

What do I need to travel to the US?

I have a valid J1 visa with exception to the the travel ban. I have my flight ticket. It flies to one of those 13 airports.

What else do I have to do officially before I fly?