Make Sure You Have the Right Visa Before Beginning a Mileage Run

Dec 25, 2015

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TPG reader VegasRugbyPhil commented on my flight review of the American Airlines 787:

I was suppose to do the PVG run with a 2.5hr layover and return (mileage run) in early December but upon checking in, AA advised they had a new policy effective Nov 16 that prohibited exactly what/why I was doing the run. However, I advised them they allowed me to still purchase the flight (as I only decided to go 3 days prior) […] They showed me their internal memo Dated November 16 that basically started by saying, “It is that time of year when we get folks doing mileage runs…”. They would not give me a copy of the memo but I did read it.

We at TPG were a bit concerned after reading this report, as we’re the type of crazy folks to do a mileage run or two, and we often encourage you to do the same. We reached out to American Airlines for comment about this memo. Thankfully, we got a quick response and — good news — it’s not the end of mileage running on American Airlines.

Boarding pass airline ticket featured shutterstock 215557999
If you want to use the Chinese transit visa, make sure that you have proof of onward travel. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

An AA spokesman explained that the airline didn’t (and doesn’t) take issue with the mileage run itself, but was simply complying with Chinese immigration law. This traveler could have possibly taken advantage of the country’s 72-hour transit visa policy with a different routing, such as ORD-PVG-NRT-ORD, since he’d be flying from the US but “connecting” to Japan, but the simpler ORD-PVG-ORD routing would have required a Chinese visa, which he didn’t have.

Unlike in J. Keith’s visa-less experience, everything worked out just fine for Phil. While it’s ultimately your responsibility as a traveler to confirm that you’re eligible to enter the country you’re flying to, AA very generously rebooked this reader on a round-trip flight to Hong Kong later the same week — which meant even more miles! But, this serves as a warning to all of us mileage runners that we need to be extra cautious about having the right visas.

Save time, hassle, and earn more points/miles using Allied! Photo courtesy of Allied's website.
Check with Allied Passport to see what visa you need for your mileage run. Photo courtesy of Allied’s website.

Our friends over at Allied Passport & Visa have guides for most countries to help you determine what visa you may need and whether you can get the visa on arrival or in advance. If you need to apply for a visa in advance, use Allied Passport’s helpful sample applications to make sure you get your visa application right.

When you use Allied’s visa (or passport) services, let them know that we sent you for $5 off. And, since Allied Passport is coded as a travel purchase, make sure to use the right travel bonus spending card, like the Citi Premier Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Have you ever had a visa issue prevent you from traveling?

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