Exploring third country en route, through transit visas

Surprise bonanza

Emirates is offering two nights free stay in Dubai hotels.

You have 24 hours to kill in a third country before you board a connecting flight. Why not get out of the airport to explore the city? Many countries allow this with a transit visa. Emirates now offers even a free stay at Dubai for flights from Bengaluru to Europe, the Americas or Africa. 

But the ease of getting a transit visa differs from country to country, airline to airline, according to a Bengaluru-based visa consultant. "For every country, there are specific guidelines to be followed. There are nations that insist on the visa even to change flights within an airport," he explains. 

The Emirates offer is this: Passengers travelling First and Business Class with the airline in October, November or early December get two nights' free accommodation at a Dubai hotel. The offer is valid for all flights from Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi. 

Those who book their tickets between September 24 and October 3 for travel ending December 10 will get the offer, provided the transit time is 10 hours or more. 

Beyond airlines, many countries require the passenger to get the transit visa in advance. But there are also places where this visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport. However, consultants warn that visa on arrival would mean spending time in queues and additional cost. This could range from Rs 3,000 to Rs 12.000. 

To boost tourism, transit visas are sometimes offered free for travellers. In March this year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had announced free transit visas for the first two days. The 48-hour free visa was for travellers stopping over in the UAE with confirmed onward journeys. 

The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism had announced that the visa could also be extended for up to four days. The fee was 50 Dirhams (about Rs 964). 

For Indian travellers with a layover in Singapore, a Visa-Free Transit Facility (VFTF) is now in vogue. The condition is that they should be in transit in Changi airport for more than 5.5 hours and have the next departing flight within 96 hours. 

Besides, they should hold a valid visa/long-term visit pass for the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Germany or Switzerland. Within the 96-hour duration, such passengers are offered travel packages to two destinations in Singapore. 

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