Swindled By Air Baltic

A learning lesson to:

(1) Avoid Air Baltic and (2) make sure your travel visa is valid at time of take-off, not landing (though this last part is questionable!)

On a flight from Warsaw to Moscow I had a layover in Riga, Latvia. I had my Russian VISA from the consulate in Toronto. Flights were booked. Everything was fine. Until Air Baltic screwed it all up!

Long Story Short: Russian VISA started August 17th. My flight landed on August 16th at 23h45. Everyone I asked said that would be fine because I’d get to customs after midnight. Air Baltic check-in staff didn’t like that idea.

By the time the plane landed, taxied to the gate, passengers disembarked, and I arrived at customs, it would have been August 17th. VISA valid. But Air Baltic staff said my VISA had to be valid at the time of take-off. In all my research, they are the only ones that had ever said this. They refused to allow me to board.

SO I thought this was a gimmick to force me to buy a ticket on another flight. So I told them I would give my business elsewhere. I went to Aeroflot who told me that I had every right to get on my original flight. My VISA would be verified by passport control in Russia, not at a flight check-in desk with Air Baltic.

Air Baltic still said “no.”

SO I bought my ticket from Aeroflot and flew out the next day…..hundreds of Euros later and a very very bad taste in my mouth toward Air Baltic, who I will never support again.

Lesson learned: make sure your VISA is valid for the date of take-off. And MAYBE the check-in staff were just doing their job. Maybe this is an Air Baltic regulation. Or maybe they were trying to milk more money out of me. But the staff were not kind, not understanding, not helpful, and their online customer service agents were just as unwilling to help.

With enough flight options out there, it’s easy enough to simply pick another airline. Which, in the future, I’ll do.

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