Today I learned something that may seem like common sense to some and something very surprising to others. While travel planning for a group going to Spain that Lindsey and I are facilitating in March, we of course purchased the plane tickets for our team composed of Americans and Mexicans. However we ran into a snag. When a Mexican citizen flies to Spain and has an hour long layover in an American airport, they must have previously gotten a transit visa or else the airline will not let them on the plane. We should have thought of this but for some reason it came as a surprise.
Lesson learned: be careful to always investigate the visa requirements even for quick connections in not only any US airport but also in any other airport especially when you are making plans for someone who is not an American citizen.
As I think through all this, I find myself wondering how beneficial this is for the US economy to not be able to somehow allow foreigners to sit in a secure area of the airport while awaiting connections. The reason the US government requires the visas is that the foreign national could theoretically (and some probably have) leave the airport and enter the US even while holding a plane ticket. This would pose a security threat. However I’m sure in many cases like the one I just experienced, it would benefit the US economy to find a way to make this type of situation work without visas being required. After all, today $2500 worth of flights was taken out of the American economy and put into the British economy because the UK will allow a Mexican to get a transit visa on the spot to enter the country after a flight with British Airways.
If you find this confusing, you are not alone. We sure do live in a confusing world.