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Visa-free transit at SVO on separate tickets

Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:43 am
by edblax
Hi folks

Have looked far and wide for an answer to this question, but there's a lot of contradictory information online, so we were wondering if someone on here might have a more definitive answer.

We had to leave Russia for a family emergency during the World Cup, and as it was cheaper to buy a return flight we have an Aeroflot ticket back to Sheremetyevo next month. We want to take that flight but then fly onwards to somewhere else in the region, and are wondering whether we can get by without a transit visa despite our flights in and out of Russia being on separate itineraries. We would be flying in to SVO on Aeroflot, and to simplify things we could book our flight out from SVO on Aeroflot as well. We won't have check-in bags.

We have found a lot of conflicting information - some saying we should be fine to check in online for the second flight and go straight to the gate, some saying that we should be able to check in for both tickets when we leave the US, and some (worryingly) saying that we won't be allowed to board our first flight without a transit visa.

Has anyone done this? Is anyone able to offer any more advice? Thanks!

Re: Visa-free transit at SVO on separate tickets

Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 1:23 am
by steven
I don't know anything about Russia, but what does the airline say?

Re: Visa-free transit at SVO on separate tickets

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:45 am
by edblax
It worked! But I'm not sure I'd recommend it to others. Here's a quick report.

First we called Aeroflot, the conversation went like this:
Aeroflot: You will need to get a transit visa
Us: But the Russian embassy says you can only get a transit visa if you stay longer than 24 hours, and we only want to stay a couple of hours.
Aeroflot: You will need to get a transit visa
Us: What if we check in online for our second flight, so we just stay in the terminal for a couple of hours and don't need to go through immigration?
Aeroflot: Please hold...
Aeroflot: We do not have any information about this. You will need to get a transit visa.

Well, this sounded like a challenge, and we didn't want to pay the 180USD each for the expedited transit visas, so spurred on by this post we decided to try our luck. We booked an onward flight to Istanbul that left SVO four hours after we were due to arrive from the US, and checked in online and printed our boarding passes when check in opened 24 hours before (which was 5 hours before our first flight on the first ticket).

Our first flight was on Delta from Washington DC to New York. We checked in at the self check in terminal which spat out paper boarding passes that had "VISA MAY BE REQUIRED - PLEASE SEE GATE STAFF" across the top. We presented ourselves to the gate staff, explained what we were doing, showed our boarding passes for the onward flight and the confirmation of our Turkish e-visas. They said we could board the flight to New York but may have to have another conversation with the Aeroflot staff at New York.

We weren't able to get through security at New York with our flimsy Delta boarding passes, so we went to the Aeroflot desk. The check in agent asked for a transit visa, then frowned and said "this isn't going to work" when we explained what we were doing. She called the shift supervisor, who called someone else, they all had a chat, and after waiting about 10 minutes they said it was okay and we could fly. They seemed to copy all the details of our onward flight into their systems, and then they gave us new boarding passes that got us to Moscow!

No hassles in Moscow - we just had to show our printed boarding passes to the security people to get through the transit gate into the departure terminal to board our flight to Istanbul.