When folks were detained at US airports following Trump’s ban on travel from Muslim countries, and sent back to where they came from, who paid for those flights? My assumption is that the government (and therefore the US taxpayers) paid for them, but I haven’t heard anything specific one way or the other. If it is the US government paying for the airfare, how much is all of this costing us?
The airline is typically stuck with the bill, if they board a passenger who does not meet current eligibility rules for immigration into the destination country. To protect themselves against this risk, airlines pay special attention to boarding passengers documents, and often deny boarding to a passenger who does not meet what the airline believes to be the current regulations.
Airlines can and often do require that a boarding passenger have a return or an onward flight, if the destination country has such a requirement, and nearly all countries do, even though rarely enforced for travelers who seem reputable. Last summer, I was denied boarding on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Dire Dawa to Djiboutil. I had a Djibouti visa, but no onward ticket out of Djibouti. The airline required me to buy a ticket back to Addis Ababa, before they would give me a boarding pass. Theoretically, Djibouti could have refused to admit me, put me on the next flight out of Djibouti, and the airline would have been responsible. But, of course, Djibouti immigration did not ask to see my outbound ticket, it’s basically a scam by Ethiopian Airlines.
In that case, I was told the ticket was refundable, but when I tried to refund it, it was refused. I protested the credit card billing, won the case, and got my refund from my credit card, which refused to pay the airline for the unused ticket.
In a similar instance, I knew a Bolivian woman who was flying fron the USA to Chile, and was told by Chile that she needed a visa, which she did not have, and was refused entry into Chile. She was immediately put on the next plane to Buenos Aires. Braniff paid all the associated costs for straightening everything out, because Braniff put her on the flight to Chile without verifying that she had the necessary visa.
But with Trump’s ban, these people had already passed background checks, had visas, many were already living in the country legally. So the airline would have no reason to think they wouldn’t be admitted - why should they be on the hook for it?
And in some cases, already in the air.
Ignorance is no excuse. Airlines acknowledge that they have the responsibility to repatriate any passenger they board who is refused entry in the country of destination. At the checkin desk, they have access to databases that kee up to date on such things. In the history of the aviation era, there has never been, perhaps, a government that willfully changed a rule during the course of a flight. But these are unprecedented times.
“Muslim” ban? Shorthand…
Agree with jtur88.
The airlines ate the cost of returning anyone they carried in violation of the sudden ban. They’ll also be on the hook to refund any now-useless tickets. Net of any change fees or other refund policies specific to the individual tickets.
The idea that the government would compensate companies for the consequences of its surprises is … naïvely quaint. Or is that quaintly naïve?
(sorry, couldn’t help myself)
I don’t know what first world country you come from… but in most of the rest of the world (including the U.K), the airline does try to get the cost of the return flight back from the deportees.
I am very sure that they will not admit liability, nor refund, the already-sold tickets. Tickets are sold according to endless terms and conditions; it seems unlikely that this very obvious liability would not have been covered.
In both cases, my evidence is both hearsay and anecdotal, and in both cases from people involved in the illegal marijuana trade to the U.K.
The traffic of “terrorists” to the U.S.A. may be different, but I doubt it. International Airlines are very much interested in profit, and only interested in the laws of the countries they fly into and out insomuch as they do not affect the profit margin. They’ll happily fly person X into Saudi Arabia but deny them a flight to New York, purely based on the chances person X may be denied entry.
It’s a pretty universal convention (don’t know if it’s actually enshrined in an international treaty) that if an airline brings someone to a country and they are denied entry, it’s on them to return to their passenger to their country of origin.
For that reason (to avoid paying for that) in recent years, to avoid paying for that, have started doing basic immigration checks when you check into your flight. One of the issues with the current ban, is that even when it was overturned in the courts the airlines were still getting advice to turn away travels from the banned Muslim countries.
Its a really irritating system, as irritating as US immigration officials can be they do at least usual know the immigration rules they are enforcing, the airline clerk at the London checkin desk, not so much. I’ve had a situation where I was on a slightly less common type of visa, and they almost refused to let me on the flight as they’d not heard of it.
You seem to have misunderstood me.
The OP was asking / assuming the US government was picking up the tab for the confusion. Not so. Whether any airline will try to extract payment for an unplanned return flight is up to them. But generally they can’t.
As to refunds, my point was that the airlines will lose business over being unable to carry certain passengers between certain places. Which lost business will not be compensated by the US government.
Each and every already-sold ticket has terms and conditions for who gives or gets how much under which circumstances when the contracted transportation can’t be provided. Those terms, whatever they are, will be followed.
Bottom line: I’m talking about the relationship between the airline and the US government. You seem to be talking about the relationship between the airline and the passenger. Different questions have different answers.
Actually this is covered in the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization treaty:
Its a bit early to justify the action , and the lack of compensation, when its not complete and it hasn’t hardly settled yet. The federal courts only imposed an injunction on the presidential order. That isn’t final, but anyway how can you say that the lack of comepensation is justified… What NEXT ? The federal court may well order COMPENSATION ! YOu are acting like you are the federal court and giving your decree… seriously you are preempting the court. Its surely got to wait …
Meanwhile the various airlines aren’t going to make the president irate by telling him how much they are suing the government for at this stage.
They will … I am sure they will had the USA gov a bill for all the trouble caused.