Approached for Onward Travel: Cairo to South Africa

It is common to be asked to provide proof on onward travel when you are flying to a new country. Some countries allow you to stay visa free for a certain number of days; you just need to be able to prove that you will be leaving before that visa free time period is over. You are usually asked when you check in for the flight. In Cairo, it happened a bit differently.

We had just checked in to our business class flight on Qatar airways. From Cairo, we were heading to Doha and then from Doha, heading to South Africa. We went about business as usual and headed straight for the lounge after clearing immigration. After a while, we noticed a man who was walking from group to group asking them a question. Once he got to us, he asked us where we were going. We said Cape Town, and we could see his eyes light up Рhe finally found who he was looking for. 

He asked if we could provide him with proof of onward travel leaving South Africa. I usually download my proof of onward travel the night before, but this time I forgot. I tried to connect to the lounge wifi, but failed repeatedly. This wifi was brutal. I then switched on my data to use a 3G connection and that proved to be almost just as bad. I had my ticket information in a PDF file attached to an email and I could not get the attachment to load.

After what felt like 15 minutes (it was probably only 5) of this man awkwardly looking over my shoulder waiting, I finally got the PDF to load. I gave him my phone and he started to jot down information before he asked, “Can I just take a picture?” I said sure and he proceeded to whip out his phone and take a picture of what was on the screen of my phone. When I asked him if he also needed proof for Brittany, he said no. That was weird – I usually need to provide proof for both of us.


The whole event was weird and unprofessional. I have no idea who this guy was. I assume he must have worked for Qatar, but I don’t know for sure. He is also very lucky he found us. We could have been anywhere in the airport. If he didn’t find us, would he have asked every passenger as they boarded for Doha where there final destination was in a last ditch effort to find us? I doubt it. After all, he apparently didn’t even need Brittany’s proof of onward travel. If you’re going to ask for proof on onward travel, ask when the passenger checks in, that’s how every other airline does it.

Have you had any experiences of being asked for onward travel after checking in?

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