Gerry was denied boarding a flight to Mumbai (from Abu Dhabi) as he didn’t have a valid visitor’s visa. Gerry relied on the mistaken assumption that the confirmation email he received from the Indian High Commission was confirmation of his visa, rather than confirmation of his application. Gerry believed that his electronic visa confirmation from Bhutan, which had allowed him to travel to Bhutan, contributed to his mistaken assumption.
Gerry lodged a claim with his travel insurer for lost deposits and additional expenses incurred as a result of not being able to enter India, and having to remain in Abu Dhabi for four days.
When the insurer declined his claim, Gerry complained to FSCL.
Gerry believed it was reasonable for him to think he had a visa. Gerry asserted that the information he received from the Indian High Commission was ambiguous and indicated acceptance. Alternatively, Gerry believed that, even though he didn’t have his visa at the time, he could have applied whilst in transit and obtained one on arrival. The airline employee in Abu Dhabi who refused his boarding failed to inform him of this fact. The airport employee’s ‘misinformation’ contributed to the fact Gerry couldn’t board. Therefore, his decision not to board was ‘out of his control.’
The insurer believed that the document that was provided from the Indian High Commission was clearly identifiable as confirming receipt of the application only. It was not confirmation that Gerry’s visa application had been approved.
The insurer relied upon the exclusion clause which stated it would not pay for
Any interference with your travel plans by a government, government regulation, or official authority including but not limited to refusal of a visa
After reviewing the evidence, we determined that it was unreasonable for Gerry to have relied on the document which Gerry received from the Indian High Commission. The ‘confirmation’ email was simply confirmation that the application had been received by the High Commission. This was stated explicitly in the email. Gerry was responsible for ensuring that his application has been approved.
We looked at Gerry’s claim that he was erroneously denied boarding by an airport employee because he could have obtained a visa upon arrival in India. In order to get an online visa application approved, the traveller must apply (four days) prior to travel. Whilst the E-Visa would have been valid for the airport Gerry was visiting, because Gerry didn’t have the visa prior to travel, the airline employee was correct in their understanding of the requirements.
Unfortunately for Gerry, we determined that the insurer had acted reasonably in declining his claim. It was clear that Gerry’s inability to enter India was attributable to interference with travel plans by refusal of visa.
Key insight for consumers
Before travelling, check that you will meet the entry requirements and ensure that you have a valid entry visa for the country to which you are travelling.