The Quirks of getting a UAE Transit Visa from Etihad


When we were working on booking the trip to Australia, I suggested we build in as large a connection in Abu Dhabi to at least be able to spend a night there. While I’ve been to Abu Dhabi a lot of times, I’ve never managed to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque there, and Shipra has never seen anything outside of the Abu Dhabi airport. So it made sense to build in a longish layover if possible.

In the end, we managed to get an approximately 23 hour long layover which would be because the EY A380 flight from Mumbai arrived at 23:00 hours, and the EY A380 flight to Melbourne departed the next evening at about 22:00 hours. We planned to be able to get out of the airport and catch some sleep at the Hyatt Capital Gate before we got out to see the mosque. A longish itinerary won’t be possible because we did not want to tire ourselves out before getting on our 13 hour long flight to Melbourne.

We did seem to run into a bit of an issue however. As an Indian citizen, the Visa is always the issue. While there are many a travel agencies which would sponsor a visa for you when arriving in the UAE, I was very keen to get a Transit Visa issued since it fit our purpose and was the cheapest visa option around. Here were all the options Etihad would be willing to sponsor, through their visa processing partner TT UAE Visas:

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Like you can see, the Transit Visa was the cheapest option, and given that we were going to do a quick layover, it would fit our bill. We were led to believe that it was an easy process. We tried applying 14 days out but were informed we could only apply 12 days out, and applications could be made at least 3 clear working days out for a transit visa. So closer to our date, we tried applying again. The process appeared to be largely simple.

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What they did not explain were the hurdles. And anything that appears easy is not!!!

We were booked to travel on Etihad, but our tickets were issued by American Airlines. So when we started filling the form, I ran into trouble on screen 3 where they requested the e-ticket number. This is a sample of the screen.

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Like you would see, the Visa processing company wanted the e-ticket number, and they would only take an Etihad e-ticket number (issued with first 3 digits 607). That set me off on the wrong path. Since my ticket was not issued on the 607 number series but 001 series (AA stock), this wasn’t going anywhere.

I then contacted the hotel to check if they could help us in visa issuance who directed us to a vendor, where the base case scenario was to apply for a Tourist Visa. This was a no go because costs would creep up big time now. Next, I reached out to Thomas Cook in India, and they had a slew of Visa options available online.

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This layover was quickly getting wasted since I would now be paying more for two visa issuances than my hotel and transport combined. So I figured I had nothing to lose and I went back to the TTUAEVisas portal and filled up the form again. In the e-ticket number I filled up the number from my AA issued ticket anyways. I either could get a visa or I could not, the choice was theirs. But I’d like to believe that I at least gave it a shot.

The next page had the next bouncer. I had all the paperwork scanned and ready. Now they told me they wanted it only in JPG format, and they wanted specific excerpts. For instance, cropped out leafs of the Passport with the personal information, visa copies of the USA et al.

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By the time I came to this stage, I had already wasted a few hours with the e-ticket number issue and how to resolve it. I was not backing down now. So, I patiently set about extracting JPGs from the PDFs that my scanner spewed out and putting it in the format that met their guidelines. It was at least an hour’s work per person.

Eventually, I uploaded everything and the pages would frequently error out. That meant I’d have to start with the visa application number again sometimes. Once on the third attempt I was able to pay for the Visa and I got the confirmation that my application was accepted. I repeated the process for Shipra as well, and now that I knew all the steps, it took me slightly lesser time.

Our applications were sent for processing the next day, and lo and behold, within 24 hours, we had the transit visa in our mailboxes. With a very clear message on top of the visa image which mentioned that I could only travel with Etihad, South African Airlines, Air Seychelles, Air Berlin, Air Serbia and Jet Airways to utilize this transit visa.

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Bottomline

Clearly the visa process for a UAE visa was not as simple as it appeared. It was a shot in the dark for me, but I eventually was willing to risk the money to find out how this works. And there was no problem in the end. So, if you have one of those Etihad tickets issued by another carrier, feel free to apply for a UAE transit visa with them, as long as you have good skills in cropping documents for your visa application.

Have you run into the same problem as I did ever?

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Comments

  1. All-

    Just got my UAE short term tourist e-visa through ttsuaevisas. On my e-visa, my last name is repeated twice !! Did anyone face the same issue? It showed correctly in the receipt which I received on making the payment. Some software glitch I suppose. Does anyone know if this can be corrected? Planning to call their customer service tomorrow.

    One more thing, the tts website does not show options to include accompanying family members. On my e-visa, accompanied by wife/children says ‘None’ whereas I am travelling with family (wife, kids and my parents). Will that be an issue at the port of entry?

    • All my UAE visas till date ( issued via TT ) have had my last name repeated. I guess that’s because they integrate the father / husband’s name together with your name. I have even had my birth year mentioned wrong , but none of these issues have ever posed a problem while entering the country. Just ensure your name’s spelling , passport details , and photograph are correct.
      Secondly , you require separate visas for all your family members , and that accompanying family members column will by default be shown as None.
      I would still suggest you call the helpline to clarify these doubts , for your peace of mind.

  2. Did you input the ticket number starting with 001 & left out the last 3 digits or did you leave 001 out and input the rest?

  3. I am surprised you didn’t call the TT helpline right at the beginning. They are quite helpful. I faced the same issue last year , and I was clearly told to ignore the 607 prefix. They were kind enough to even expedite my visa issuance , as I had to avail it on my return leg , but wanted the papers before I left India.

    • @delhi_traveller even I got my visa in two days but I know a lot of people don’t stake out that kind of money on this because of this 607 hardcoding. Flyertalk is full of experiences.

      • Ohhh…true , too much money being charged…I paid 58 usd the last time , but in March 2015 , the cost of the transit & tourist visa was the same. Ended up spending almost 30000 for all of us , just for a transit of 15 hours.

          • We did. First time , because we hadn’t seen Abu Dhabi. Second time because Etihad gave us a free stay at the Ritz Carlton , so the visa cost didn’t pinch us much.

              • Etihad doesn’t arrange for your visas when you are availing their ‘Premium Stopover’ , which until last year did not have a pre-requisite that your ticket has to be ‘issued’ by Etihad , but is now required. ( My ticket was issued by Air Seychelles )

  4. I was in the same boat last year and a phone rep told me that only flights booked directly with Etihad are eligible. I guess you were lucky.

    Worst thing is that they refused tourist visa because it requires minimum 24 hr stay!

  5. Not sure if this is public news (unlikely) but Jet domestic pilots seem to be on strike. Been on five Jet flights in the last ten days, not one was delayed by less than an hour. Ostensibly its the weather, but the lady at the gate said a lot of pilots are on strike.

  6. Why do u need a transit visa man? Are you going out of the airport and using a differnt PNR?

    i dont see, why you need transit visa as long as u dont need to leave airport man

  7. I’ve Bangladesh passport. Planned a 3 day stay in Dubai, prepaid Burj Al Arab hotel stay and hotel applied for guest visa 2 weeks prior to arrival. Visa wasn’t issued which i was notified 2 days before departure. They were unable to provide any reason for not issuing the visa. Changed plans and went to Maldives instead. Moral of the story- always have a plan b. After some research, i found out that UAE government has some unclear “restrictions” for Bangladeshi applicants when it comes to transit or tourist visa.

  8. If you know the right people, you can get a transit UAE visa in a few hours. I have managed to get one a few times even after I left US on an Etihad flight and just emailed a friend I wanted to come out of the airport for a few hours. Unfortunately, airlines and hotels just contract this out and doesnt make it easy.

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