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Philippine Airlines Halts Visitors to U.S. Under Visa Waiver Program

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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As first reported by LoyaltyLobby, Philippine Airlines is having to rebook passengers on other airlines thanks to its expired agreement with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection that would have allowed the airline to view and verify passenger enrollments under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Because of this, the airline can only transport customers with a valid visa or who are current U.S. citizens. Because a large percentage of travelers enter the country under the Visa Waiver Program, this is a major issue for Philippine Airlines which can no longer fly these customers until the agreement is put back in place.

What Is the Visa Waiver Program?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has a service called the Visa Waiver Program, where citizens of 40 countries worldwide can enter the U.S. for a period of 90 days or less for business or tourism without a visa. To reciprocate, each of those 40 countries must allow U.S. citizens into their country for 90 days or less without a visa for both business and tourism purposes.

This data is verified by global airlines before passengers are transported to the U.S., and in this case, Philippine Airlines cannot verify the VWP information.

Philippine Airlines’ Response

Philippine Airlines Visa Waiver Program
Image Credit: Philippine Airlines

There is a note on the Philippine Airlines website explaining the situation:

NOTE: Philippine Airlines’ application for renewal of the required carrier agreement with the US Customs Border Protection is currently in process.  We are temporarily unable to accept non-immigrant visitors to the US under the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP)pursuant to Title 8, U.S.C. § 1187(a)(5).

Because of this, the airline is placing passengers on other flights to the U.S. and providing cash compensation. This can happen as soon as the day before departure, so if you’re one of the travelers affected, you’ll want to be diligent about checking your itinerary for any rerouting instructions. Philippine Airlines also doesn’t have many partner airlines, so the carrier may be placing you on any airline with available seats to the U.S., including through other connecting cities.

If you have a preferred routing or airline you’d like to be placed on, calling Philippine Airlines may result in you getting your desired option, but if not, the airport ticket counter may be able to assist as well.

Hot Tip:

While cash compensation should be offered as part of the rerouting, you’ll want to ensure this is confirmed with the phone agent you speak with or directly at the airport.

Final Thoughts

If you’re not a U.S. citizen or are flying to the U.S. with a visa, you’ll want to pay special attention to your Philippine Airlines itinerary to see if the carrier has placed you on another airline for your transport to the U.S. The agreement between Philippine Airlines and the CBP may be resolved quickly, so for the latest updates, you’ll want to check directly with the airline.

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About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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