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  • PvT 3 posts

    In February I was denied boarding due to insufficient documents, as BA ground staff in Cape Town did not understand the visa rules for seamen.

    The Flight was CPT / LGW / TFS, and was purchased as two separate tickets.

    As a seaman I carried: Valid Passport, valid Schengen Visa, Bermuda Discharge Book and Bermuda ID, Employment letter from my employer, Letter of Invite from Port Agent in Tenerife.

    BA claimed I required a UK Transit Visa for LGW, even after checking my bags in on for the LGW to TFS flight and issuing boarding passes to final destination.

    Before the flight departed, I tried changing the dates, but this could only be done by the Call Centre which was already closed for the day (Flight controller noted this on the PNR). I managed to speak to the Call Centre later but they stated that I missed both flights due to insufficient documents and was charged 100% no-show fee.

    I eventually flew on Swiss, but arrived 22 days after my initial joining date.

    Ironically, I flew TFS / LHR / BGI a week later with the same documents, and was issued a visa on arrival at LHR to sleep in a London Hotel.

    I want to approach CEDR as it has now been more than 8 weeks of lodging my complaint.

    As this is not a ‘typical’ denied boarding, what should I claim for?

    NorthernLass 8,204 posts

    Welcome to HFP.

    What passport do you hold, presumably not Bermuda as this shouldn’t cause any issues entering the UK?

    Could the problem have been that your LGW-TFS flight was on a separate booking, so you weren’t technically in transit, but entering the UK? Had you obtained any further documentation by the time to took the Swiss flight?

    Also, how did you get BA to check your bags through?!

    strickers 722 posts

    I think this is something very niche and here is probably not the place to ask? The rules for travelling as a seaman are quite specialised and beyond the knowledge of most people. You might be lucky and someone will know but I’d be surprised. Is there a seaman’s forum where you can ask?

    NorthernLass 8,204 posts

    I did come across a similar case once (OH has family in Bermuda)! This is from an immigration solicitors’ website:

    “Crew members and contract seamen can enter the UK if their object is to leave again with their ship. A transit visa is required for non-visa nationals, except for people holding a document issued by a country which has ratified the 1958 International Labour Organisation (ILO) seafarers’ identity documents convention No. 108.”

    OP wasn’t leaving with their ship, but on a flight to TFS.

    Hence wondering about OP’s passport/nationality. Obviously the Schengen visa wouldn’t grant anyone permission to enter the UK, so presumably that was for TFS.

    I agree this is niche and might require some professional legal advice if intending to challenge BA’s decision.

    PvT 3 posts

    Thank you all.


    @NorthernLass
    : I hold a South African Passport.

    The CPT to LGW was the remaining leg of the LHR / CPT / LGW trip I flew on previously on BA, and the LGW / TFS flight was also a BA flight, but separate ticket (I did a FQ with BA for CPT to TFS and booked the same flight to ensure minimum connection times was adhered to)

    As both flights was booked with BA, the check in agent managed to link the two flights and managed to check my bags to TFS. The first leg was in WT Plus and the second WT, so had to pay for the additional bag between LGW and TFS.

    Bermuda is party to ILO and we have a vessel registered there, thus we are able to hold Bermuda Seamans ID (Called a discharge book). So in essence, I was entitled to enter the UK as non-visa passport holder as the Bermuda Ship ID allows for it.


    @strickers
    I will have a look around those notice boards as well. I have seen a couple articles where Wizzair denied tourists boarding due to insufficient documents.

    I think I might have to lodge a case with the CEDR and see what outcome can be reached.

    NorthernLass 8,204 posts

    I imagine that the vast majority of people, including BA ground staff, aren’t aware of the ins and outs of fairly unusual circumstances like yours, and they may well have been erring on the side of caution with you holding a SA passport.

    Have you lodged a complaint with BA via their website? If so, have you had a formal response to that? It will help if you can show CEDR that BA has given you their “final position” on denying your claim.

    If you have a look in the “delays and cancellations” thread (and any others asking for advice on how to deal with BA), there’s lots of useful information about things like writing to their legal department before going to CEDR – this often makes them sit up and take notice where ordinary complaints don’t.

    I think also CEDR staff aren’t particularly highly qualified in legal matters and might also struggle with this, especially if BA decide to fight it.

    I’d be really interested if you kept us updated on this, it’s a bit different from the sort of stuff people usually post!

    NorthernLass 8,204 posts

    Just FYI – it’s BA policy nowadays not to check bags through on separate bookings, which is why I was surprised. Did they have to retrieve your luggage when you were denied boarding, presumably?

    I’m also wondering if any of your fellow sea-farers have experienced anything similar or if a staff association would be able to assist.

    JDB 4,621 posts

    @PvT – I think you may struggle a bit with CEDR on this. BA relies on Timatic and ostensibly you can’t travel to the UK on a South African passport without a visa. While the seafarer’s documents might theoretically assist you, BA is allowed to rely upon the official and independent guidance it has and you weren’t joining a ship in the UK. Your trip was also rather complicated by being on two tickets (quite unusual if you were on a DG25 or DG40 ticket) and travelling via LGW which I’m not sure offers airside transit when you have separate tickets. Did you apply for a Direct Airside Transit visa or a Visitor in Transit visa that would have facilitated your trip?

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