The India e-Tourist visa and the Transit Airport Troubles

The online check-in had already presented me with issues it shouldn’t have: it tried to force me to enter details of our German visa – we don’t need one – and I couldn’t get past that part of the process. Except, if you cancel the check-in process and start again it start’s from where you left off and forgets about the mistaken need for a German visa, until the next passenger and then you have to repeat the quit/start-again process.

I thought this would be the only visa problem, I was wrong.

At Heathrow check-in they thoroughly checked our visas for India, no problem, everything’s fine. We went through security with a bit of an issue, but after that it’s plain sailing we thought.

We had two hours in in Munich airport before our transfer to the Mumbai bound flight left, plenty of time as our baggage was handled automatically.

The Lufthansa announcer at the gate informed us we all needed our boarding passes stamped before we’d be allowed to travel. No problem, everything’s correct and in order, this will be easy.

“This is not a visa, this is only the application form.”
“It’s not, it’s what you get sent when the application is granted, that’s why it’s got the barcode and our attached passport photo. It’s a new visa style, for short term tourists, have you seen them before?”
“No, you must have a stamped visa in your passport, you cannot fly to Mumbai”.
We had to talk to another officer who suggested looking for emails on my phone, which wasn’t working, the airport WiFi was dead and although I knew I should be able to use data on my contract in the Euro it just wasn’t working. Turns out I hadn’t switched ‘data roaming’ on!

Eventually I got emails stating the visas had been granted.

And this was enough to get us through.

So, the key lesson is: if you’re travelling on a new style visa it’s probably likely airport staff in places won’t know about it so take every last little bit of information you have. An untrained, or rather unaware, member of transit airport staff almost stopped us getting to India, she had the final say and we in the end were lucky.

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