Denied Entry to Another Country: Who’s at Fault?

passport-controlOne member recently had the unfortunate experience of being denied entry to a country because they did not have the correct visa. This member inadvertently flew with Qantas to Papua New Guinea without the necessary visa, and was sent on the next flight back to Australia after being stopped at the border.

I had a rather interesting experience this week heading to PNG via Cairns. Check in at the airport was smooth and no issues. Flew into Port Moresby and it seems i did not have the necessary visa to be cleared into Port Moresby. PNG does not offer visa on arrival for Australia citizens it seems, i was sent on the next flight back to Cairns.

While this member accepts responsibility, they were left unimpressed by Qantas’ actions. All airlines have a responsibility to check that its passengers have the appropriate documentation when travelling overseas. So, it is not clear how Qantas staff in Australia allowed this member to board the flight without a valid visa. In fact, it is in Qantas’ interests to check this as the airline was likely fined for transporting them to Papua New Guinea without a visa.

I guess i need to take some of the blame or possibly all of the blame but the Qantas reaction was very interesting especially to a Platinum holder. Upon arrival into Cairns i was advised by the ground staff that Qantas would be fined for allowing me on the plane ($5000) without the necessary visa and the staff were puzzled that there Sydney team let me on the plane in the first place. I was than told i am on my own in Cairns as its 100% my fault and that i shouldnt complain to Qantas and cause any problems.

While Papua New Guinea does appear to offer visas on arrival, these are only available to tourists. Our member was ineligible because they were travelling for business.


While our members agree Qantas should have checked for a visa at check-in, the consensus is that the passenger is ultimately at fault. Our members do not believe the passenger is owed compensation from the airline.

So the question is then whether Qantas check-in should have asked you if you were travelling on business or holiday. They found out the costly way that they probably should have asked you (their fine), but I don’t think they owe you for not having the correct documentation to enter the country.

This case serves as a timely reminder to make sure you check the visa requirements before travelling overseas.

Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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