Technically, it is a requirement for every Filipinos to secure a visa whenever they travel to a Schengen region, unless you’re one of those lucky exempted people because you might be using a different passport. But what I am going to discuss here is, if it’s just layover, do we still need to get one?
This scenario happened during our UK tour last August. Since we intended to visit UK only, then we just acquired a UK visa, which is different of course from a Schengen visa. We purchased a reasonably priced ticket from Lufthansa Airlines with this itinerary:
We didn’t have any problem going there. The flight was smooth, our visa was fine and the layover time was sufficient for us to reach the boarding gate, despite the distance. Anyway, we arrived safely in UK and spent 15 wonderful days there.
On our last night, we tried to check-in online as our flight was around 7:25 am the following day. It didn’t work as it keeps on popping that a visa is needed. We initially thought that what they are requiring is our resident visa in Doha, which we provided, however the same message keeps on showing. We tried doing this many times, but nothing happened.
We arrived at the Heathrow Airport around 2:30 am. I was surprised to see that it does not operate as early as that time. In UK, self service check-in is widely used, that is why we tried using that. But still, we see the same message over and over.
When the check-in counters opened, which was around 3:30 already, that was the only time we knew what was happening. They cannot accept us because we need to have a Schengen visa. Why? Because based on our travel itinerary going to Doha, we have 2 layovers. And those two places happened to be in a same country and in a Schengen region, thus a visa is needed, even though we will be staying only at the airport.
One of the guys at the customer service area explained this to us. If you have 2 or more layovers within a Schengen area, regardless of whether it is on the same or different countries, then a Schengen visa is required. They treat it more like a domestic flight, since you only need one visa to move from one country to another.
We were already worried and nervous during that time, and my mind was already calculating how much we might spend to buy or rebook a ticket. I even tried to argue, that we were clueless that there’s such a requirement. Anyway, I don’t know if I got them through my charm (haha) or Lufthansa Airlines got a good heart (indeed, thank you), but they rebook our tickets for free, yes, FREE! Instead of going Munich – Frankfurt – Doha, they rebook it directly to Frankfurt – Doha, so only 1 layover in a Schengen region and lesser waiting time. We were very fortunate because the airline we chose didn’t took advantage of our situation. Anyway, we arrived safely in Doha and ready to get back to our daily normal lives.
I hope you read the whole blog, it’s kinda long, I know but it’s informative. So the next time that you will book your tickets or plan for your trip, make sure that you already got all the necessary visas and requirements, so you will have a worry free travel.