Can One Fly to Any Country?

There is a heliport


There are many countries you can fly to directly from the US, which you could eaisly buy a ticket for, as to needing permission to enter the country that will depend on the country you bought a ticket to, and the passport you are travelling on. If you turn up at the airport, the airline may not let you travel and may not give you a refund for not having the right visa , that’s on you not them.
Also not only does your passport and where you are going matter, why you are going is important. There are many different types of visa needed , generally the simplest is a tourist or visitor visa, which may cover some business activities , but not all, and it varies as to what is allowed per country and some cases depending where you come from.
It is on you to know before you go.

In all cases you need permission to enter the country, but many countries have decided makings things easy is good.
Some countries have visa waiver agreements so there is no need to obtain a visa prior to traveling and you will likely just have to fill out an immigration form on arrival, again it depend son your passport not where you are traveling from and what you plan to do when you get there.

Many countries have now gone to electronics preauthorisation, so as mentioned up above Saudi used to be a massive pain to get into, but now for many countries you can easily apply on line for a tourist/Haj/ visitor visa. I am going there next month to present at a conference so normally a visitor visa would be fine for me, but I will also engage in some commercial discussions so I need to get a full business visa.

Some countries have very strict rules and need all sorts or preauthorisation . For example if you wanted to go to Turkmenistan, you can get the visa on arrival, yay! But you need to have a letter of invitation and that has to be approved in Turkmenistan by the state office for migration, with all sorts of extra supporting documentation a fees and may take a month or two for approval, but you can get the visa on arrival.
After a 4 hour wait in immigration.

So long story short, if there is a flight, you can buy a ticket, but you better make sure you have checked out the specific country entry requirements as they vary according to where your passport is from and why you are travelling there.
If you dont you may not be allowed to board, and if you are , you may not get in. Also there may be visa on arrival fees , and you may not be able to pay with a credit card, and they don’t always have change.

Some pretty comprehensive answers above. All I would add is to check the government websites and NOT rely on advice from friends and relatives, even if they have recent experience.

Countries change the rules frequently and often at short notice - even without COVID. Most of us skip over the boring Ts&Cs, but international travel is one time when you need to check and double-check. If your son books his flights through a reputable travel agent, he should be okay, but I would always want to check for myself.

Depending on how you view its status as a country, you can add Palestine to that list. Also Transnistria and possibly a few other breakaway countries.

In sanvito’s post, there’s a link to a Wiki list of countries and regions without an airport. The page includes a list of “states with limited recognition” without airports, which comprises Artsakh, Palestine, the Sahrawi Republic, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.

In addition to the airline (or other transportation company) being on the hook for the cost of removing you from the country if you arrive without the required paperwork, they may be fined. At one point in my Canadian government career, I handled the accounts for all these fines. As I recall at the time (early 80s) the company was only fined if it happened regularly, and, as well as airlines, a number of shipping lines were amongst the offenders.


yes, that other L-place.

This actually happened to a friend of mine, some years back. She went to Brazil to visit a friend - and did not know she needed a visa. The airline didn’t check either. So when she landed in Brazil, the folks there deported her.

The airline had to fly her back to the US. To Miami, IIRC; I think there must have been a Brazilian consulate there where she was able to get her visa.

I do not know if she had to pay for another flight to get back to Brazil at that point.

Thanks, all. I forgot to consider pre-Covid vs. post-Covid terms and conditions. How could I forget, right?

Given the restrictions which the US imposes on its own citizens, it’s certainly not true with Cuba.

Every country you can fly to direct from the US , you will have to go through immigration controls at the destination where the immigration officer will determine if you can get in or not.

Visa waiver programs , electronic visitor visas , visa on arrival and full on visas are all ways the country you are going to can pre authorize you to enter and speed things along.

The airline will not stop you buying a ticket but will say ’ you need to check your own entry sttaus"

The airline will check your entry status at check in and may refuse to let you board if they are not satisfied you will get in.

If they let you fly , that is not a guarantee.

On arrival the immigration officer will make a determination, and even with a valid visa waiver or tourist visa may still turn you back. Turning up in a country on a tourist visa wearing steel work boots and having work gear in your baggage is bit of a giveaway you are not there for the sun and shopping.

How do you know what you need, go to the relevant countries websites on immigration or the US Gov websites.

One time flying into Heathrow, a young woman (early 20’s) was trying to explain to an officer in his office what here story was. I couldn’t really hear what the problem was and all I know is 15 minutes later as I cleared immigration she was still in the office explaining.

There are plenty of stories of immigration turning back visitors if they don’t believe their story. Apparently a major source of suspicion tends to be “coming to meet my fiancé”; the suspicion being it’s not a short visit, the person may overstay their visa to shack up with said fiancé. Some countries (Britain?) have rules against allowing immigration of (potential) spouses under 21, to reduce the pressure for arranged marriages.

U.S. Customs agents can (and do) deny entry at U.S. airports too, even if the person has valid paperwork. This could be for any number of reasons - suspicion that you are coming to work, suspicion that you are being trafficked, evidence of intent to engage in illegal activities, etc…

This is a biggie. They will want to know how you intend to support yourself during your visit. I have heard of people turning up at Heathrow for a holiday in London with only a couple of hundred pounds in cash or credit. If you say you are staying with a friend or relative, they will at the very least, want to phone to confirm it. “You don’t know the number? The next flight back is in four hours.”

I was talking to our guide in Egypt several years ago. This was the year after the Arab Srping, and he’d been working with an American family when things got interesting. He had to take them to his house, then via back roads to the hotel when things were a bit quieter. (The crowds were angry at the government, not foreigners - but it’s never safe to be in the middle of an anarchic mob, especially that western tourists are basically walking moneybags as far as the locals are concerned.)

He mentioned that the family was grateful and wanted to have him visit them in America, but… Customs will want to see proof that the visitor is indeed just visiting. Every checkbox, he would fail. Steady job to go back to? Not in tourism during a time of unrest. Family? Wife? Kids? He was doing this because he was single, jobs in Egypt don’t pay that well. Bank account? Most ordinary workers in Egypt don’t have a bank account, credit card, or reason to need one… Relatives or friends in USA who can vouch for him? Maybe the family that invited him… maybe. He would set off every alarm bell for “someone pretending to visit so they can stay and work.”

We forget how privileged we in the Western World are to be able to go places with minimal hassle.

This is true. I remember flying into Heathrow, before I caught the train to Coventry, where I was going to spend a couple of weeks with friends.

On previous visits, all vacations, I’d stayed at a hotel in London, which presented no problem. But claiming to be on vacation while staying with friends in Coventry of all places? That raised a lot of red flags, for some reason.

After HM Customs made a call to my friends in Coventry (I had their number and was able to provide it), my friends confirmed that they had invited me and they were expecting me and were willing to host me during my two-week vacation. So, all was fine. But holy hannah! Given the seriousness with which the UK officials took it, I thought for a moment that I’d be returned on the next plane back to Canada!