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Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

Level Contributor
21 posts
Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

I am a Romanian(EU) citizen and U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident. I booked a flight with Norwegian Airline, Budapest (BUD) - New York (JFK) via Oslo.

When showing up for check-in, the airline personnel examined my passport and said it needs supplementary inspection.

I have the valid I-551 stamp on my visa page, which proves US permanent residence for up to 1 year. (I didn't have the physical Green Card on me, as it wasn't issued yet). The visa page has the mention "Upon endorsement, serves as temporary I-551 evidencing permanent residence for up to one year".

They took my passport to investigate further. I was close there. They looked clueless. Kept telling me silly nonsense that my visa is expired. Then they deny me boarding for reason that I don't have my GC on me, and that was it.

I am going to rebook another flight, this time with a competent airline. Can you guys recommend some airlines that knows the US travel regulations well, and won't cause me this kind of unjustness

61 replies to this topic
UK
Level Contributor
9,165 posts
26 reviews
1. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

I've just checked this out on Timatic (which is the source all airlines use to determine whether or not a passenger has the right documents), and while this would suggest that you were right and they were wrong, I can see how an airline can misinterprete this.

It says (irrelevant bits snipped)

=========

Visa required, except for Residents of the USA if holding:

- Permanent Resident/Resident Alien Card (Form I-551);

=========

The stamp in your passport says that it serves as a temporary Green Card. They read the rule to mean that only the physical card will do. They were treading on the side of caution, but it looks to me like they were probably wrong.

You could easily have the same problem with other airlines (especially if they use the same handling agent). You should take this up with Norwegian, and get them to put you on another flight. And if your (and my) interpretation of the rules is correct then you should be entitled to Denied Boarding Compensation.

Edited: 16 April 2015, 14:54
Level Contributor
21 posts
2. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

Thanks for the response. How do I "take this up with Norwegian"?

After being denied, I said I need to file a complaint. They gave me a call-center number and the person on the phone instructed me to file a request/form (called Expense Refund form) on their website, which I did. But this can take up to 1-2 weeks and 3 weeks to receive my money back from them.

I need to fly ASAP and can't wait that long. How do people who need to be put on another flight urgently handle things?

Level Contributor
21 posts
3. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

Quote from Timatic: staralliance.com/en/services/visa-and-health/

If the passport shows a stamp "processed for I-551 temporary

evidence of lawful admittance for permanent residence valid

until receipt of I-551 employment authorized , such stamp is

to be considered Form I-551.

UK
Level Contributor
9,165 posts
26 reviews
4. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

"Expense refund" implies that all you're after is a refund of your ticket - so it looks like they sent you to the wrong department.

I suggest you phone them - numbers are here:

…custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/28

Explain that you were wrongfully denied boarding, and that you want (a) denied boarding compensation and, more importantly (b) a seat on the next available flight.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
Level Contributor
14,188 posts
63 reviews
5. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

For your future travel, you should apply for I-131, reentry permit, or often called the white passport. You apply for it with USCIS, very easy.

A reentry permit is a permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR) or a conditional permanent resident to reenter the U.S. after an extended period of stay abroad. Normally, LPRs are expected to reside in the U.S. on a permanent basis. However, in many circumstances, an LPR needs to travel frequently or to reside abroad for an extended period of time ranging from a few months to a few years and the reentry permit is the document which would allow its LPR holder to maintain their LPR status while spending time abroad. The actual reentry permit looks a bit like a U.S. passport – a booklet with a tamper-proof photo page with biographic information and a number of stamp pages.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
33,966 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

The I-331 form, which results in a I-327 re-entry permit is only required if a permanent resident plans to leave the US for more than a year. It's doesn't look to be relevant in this case as the OP was looking to return to the US on his I-551 temporary stamp in his passport. The I-551 stamp is proof of lawful permanent residence, and is issued so he can travel between being granted the residence status and the actual permanent residence (Green) card arriving. The I-551 stamp is valid for one year, and the Green Card usually takes between 3-6 months to be delivered. My Green Card took 4 months to arrive back in 2001 and I traveled outside the US and back four times on the I-551 stamp without any problem.

This is a case of the airline messing up. Norwegian is new to the transatlantic market and I suspect the check in agent hadn't seen one of these stamps before. That's no excuse. Adrian should be (have been) rebooked at no charge, AND receive 600 Euros compensation for involuntary denied boarding.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
Level Contributor
14,188 posts
63 reviews
7. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

Correct, however a white passport is easily recognized by most or all than a stamp, as it is an official passport like small book, in fact, it looks just like a passport, it can prevent such misunderstanding. It is often used by those with no passport or passports not accepted or recognized by some countries. How long duration of visits is not relevant.

For future travel, no use this time.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
33,966 posts
6 reviews
8. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

"For future travel, no use this time."

----------

It will hardly be of use for future travel once Adrian receives his actual Green Card (unless he does want to exit the USA for more than a year). And at $445 (including the biometric fee) I wouldn't do that. Far simpler to carry a printout of the Timatic report and point out the relevant bit to any useless check in agent that does it again.

Level Contributor
21 posts
9. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

@macbini: I don't intend to make future long trips outside of the US, so no need for a reentry permit.

@d. USBusinessTraveller: I am still waiting on feedback from the request/complaint I've made with them. They said it takes a few days.

Where would I find a Timatic report?

Edited: 18 April 2015, 01:45
San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
58,833 posts
149 reviews
10. Re: Airline denies boarding on US flight to Permanent Resident?

As always I agree with USBT for his practical advice.

As far as the Timatic info is concerned. There was a link in #2 Star Alliance has access to that info and that is a public site for you to use. I have not used this airline . Are you still abroad. Is there a GSA or office of the airline close to where you are ? Have you called them or made a visit if possible. I would do that instead of waiting for an email reply. They have a live chat on their website but they are typically level 1 agents but at least they may give you a number or contact to escalate to.

staralliance.com/en/services/visa-and-health/

Edited: 18 April 2015, 02:06
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