19 January 2012

Budget airline fined over New Zealand visa error

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New Zealand immigration authorities have claimed they take immigration rules seriously after budget airline Jetstar was fined NZ$6,500 (£3,370) after a check in clerk allowed her to enter without a New Zealand visa, simply by changing her nationality.

New Zealand visa

A Chinese passenger was allowed to board a plane to New Zealand despite not having a valid visa.

The Chinese passenger provided her correct details at the check in desk but was prevented from boarding when a message appeared informing the clerk that the passenger required a New Zealand visa to be allowed to fly.

"In this instance the system automatically generated a `do not board' notice" said a spokesperson for Immigration New Zealand.

"The proper course of action when this happens is to call Immigration New Zealand. We work 24 hours a day so we can respond to cases like this."

However, instead of following the correct procedure, the check in clerk changed the passenger's country code from China (CN) to CH, the code for Switzerland and, as Swiss citizens do not require a New Zealand visa to enter the country, the passenger was allowed to board the plane.

The airline, Jetstar, claimed it was a mistake by the check in clerk, who had been informed of her mistake and was aware of the severity of her actions.

"The check in agent had received the directive, but thought she had entered the incorrect country code, so she amended the country code to CH" the airline said in a letter.

The Chinese passenger was later granted a valid New Zealand visa but the spokesperson for the New Zealand immigration authorities said airlines need to take more care in their admissions.

"It is our job to protect New Zealand from undesirable entrants. Hopefully this sends the message that this type of offending is serious".


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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