Please sign in to post.

Norwegian Air Requiring Visa Waiver - What to Do?

I have a flight on Norwegian that has a change in London. Their website is insisting that I sign up for the visa waiver program, and takes me to the U.S. site. I'm a U.S. citizen, traveling on a U.S. passport, and don't require a visa waiver (and can't apply for one if I wanted to), but Norwegian's site isn't taking "no" for an answer, and they have no customer service (the phone system just disconnects calls, and e-mails aren't answered). Does anybody have a suggestion, other than "Never fly Norwegian"? Thanks!

Posted by
11450 posts

Sorry my advice IS do not fly with an airline that does not respond to emails, has no customer service number .. that seems like a recipe for disaster.

So there is nothing on the website that enables you to contact them... ?? So odd.. sorry.. nope.. no contact with them means what if another issue comes up.. plane cancelled etc.. you have no way of addressing the issue. Is it worth saving 100 bucks.. fly an airline that answers you.

Posted by
17 posts

I don't want to change the topic, because I'm hoping someone will have something to suggest. However, to answer your comment, Norwegian has phone numbers, but they are not answered. You get put on hold and, after 15 minutes, the system disconnects and hangs up on you. They don't reply to e-mails. It's a lot more than $100 you'd save, or I wouldn't have booked with them, as they're a nightmare at the airports. They have no employees at the actual airports, so when the flight isn't leaving, there's nobody to speak with. But I had just as bad an experience with a full-service carrier. After 4 hours, they announced the flight wasn't leaving because the guidance computer wasn't working, but they refused to release the passengers. (If you don't know, you can't book two tickets for flights that you couldn't be on. For example, two flights leaving at the same time.) So nobody could book a flight on another carrier, because the first carrier was still indicating on the shared reservations system that we were on the flight that wasn't leaving.

Posted by
6334 posts

Customer service: 1 (800) 357-4159
Technical support: 011 47 815 11 540

Are these the ph #'s you've been trying to call?

Posted by
17 posts

Yes, those are the numbers. I finally got through after I don't know how many attempts, and the rep told me "Don't worry about it, you don't need a visa waiver." I said, "I know, but the site is telling me that my booking isn't complete without one." All he said is, "Don't worry, it's okay." I'm not comfortable that it's okay. I don't have any proof that that's what I was told. I know I don't need a waiver, but the airline might cancel the booking if they don't get the waiver number 72 hours prior to the flight.

Posted by
25742 posts

I haven't seen much negative in these Forums about Norwegian. Most seem to like them. A lot.

If there is a US site, is there a reason you are balking at using it?

Posted by
1063 posts

"they have no customer service (the phone system just disconnects calls, and e-mails aren't answered)."
That seems to be true for a lot of companies these days.

Posted by
17 posts

Nigel, I am using the U.S. site, and it's requiring that U.S. citizens, using the U.S. site, provide a visa number so that they may enter the U.S. I finally received a reply from Norwegian, telling me to check with the country itself as to whether a visa is required. But that's not the issue. The issue is that Norwegian's site says it will cancel my booking if I don't provide a visa number.

Posted by
9363 posts

A visa "waiver" means you don't need a visa. A waiver won't have a number associated with it. US citizens travel under a visa waiver to Europe all the time. It doesn't solve your problem, but it sounds like that is set up for people coming from other countries. I have only heard good things about Norwegian, but have never had occasion to fly with them.

Posted by
12203 posts

Does you trip originate in Europe? That may be the source of the problem. The airline is responsible for ensuring that all passengers coming to the US have valid documents for entry. Apparently their computer is not programmed to automatically recognize US passport holders on travel originating in Europe.

According to the person you spoke with, they are not going to cancel your ticket. Nor should they deny you boarding. But if you are not satisfied with their answer, and Laura's explanation, you might have to book a different airline.

Posted by
17 posts

It seems that their booking site isn't set up properly. My trip originates in New York, and has a stop in London before going on to another country. It's a one-way ticket (I'll be returning on a different airline), so I'm not entering the U.S. at all (as far as Norwegian can see). And, as I mentioned, even if I had a ticket for a flight to the U.S., I'm a U.S. citizen traveling on a U.S. passport, and don't need a visa or a visa waiver. The Norwegian site tells me that, to complete my booking I have to fill in a field with the number of my visa waiver, and to click on a box to be taken to the appropriate site. That button takes you directly to the U.S. visa waiver program outside the Norwegian site. Of course, I can't even fill out the application, because you can't select U.S. for citizenship or for the country issuing the passport on which you're traveling. I not only don't need a visa waiver, I can't apply for one just to satisfy Norwegian. But I'm concerned because their site says that if I don't provide the visa waiver info at least 72 hours prior to the flight, the booking isn't complete. That's what concerns me. Norwegian finally replied to one of my tweets and told me to check with the country to which I'm traveling. But I'm not worried about needing the waiver. I know I don't need it. I'm worried that Norwegian's computer system will cancel the booking because I haven't provided a waiver number.

Posted by
2778 posts

So what ountry are you actually flying to? After the stopin London?

Posted by
2778 posts

Maybe it is the one-way flight that is the problem. With no return date, they can think you might be staying in Germany more than 90 days-----in which case you DO need a visa.

Posted by
17 posts

If I wanted to stay longer in Germany, I'd need a visa from Germany. They're telling me I need a visa from the U.S. and they're taking me to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program site.

Posted by
2778 posts

One-way tickets are tricky. Depending on the destination country, some airlines will deny boarding if you do not have proof of onward travel---they are afraid the country will not let you in. the airline is responsible for checking on this.

And I can think of lots of reasons why Germany in particular would be wary of travelers coming in on one-way tickets.

Posted by
17 posts

You're getting confused by what you posted. Germany isn't asking me for anything. Norwegian Air is telling me i need a U.S. visa waiver, which is permission given by the U.S. to people from other countries to enter the U.S. If Norwegian Air is concerned that Germany will be thinking that I was going to stay in Germany, they still wouldn't ask me for permission to stay in the United States. And I can't apply for permission to stay in the United States because I am a U.S. citizen. There isn't any way to enter the information. The U.S. government site asks me what foreign country I am from. The United States isn't on the list.

Posted by
2778 posts

I think you are the one who is confused, and you keep changing your story.

Is it a visa waiver or a visa number they want? And where do they ask for this? Is it part of the booking process, so you can't buy the ticket without supplying the number? Or is is on some notice they sent after you booked the ticket? Where do you get this 72-hour cancellation thing? Why can't you rely on the agent who said don't worry about it?

Posted by
17 posts

I haven't changed anything I've said. You keep misreading it. Norwegian Air, NOT GERMANY and NOT the U.S. is asking me for the number of my United States visa waiver. That is a document from the U.S. government saying that I don't have to file the full application for a visa to ENTER the UNITED STATES. You need it to get INTO the United States when you are not FROM the United States. That's why the United States issues them. A visa is permission to ENTER a country, not to LEAVE it. (Only totalitarian countries require EXIT VISAS to get OUT.)

It's on the Norwegian Air website that it says, after you pay for the ticket that your booking isn't confirmed until you provide them with the number of your United States visa waiver. Which I cannot obtain, because, as a U.S. citizen, I don't need a visa to leave the U.S. (and I don't need a visa to enter the U.S.).

I don't feel comfortable relying on the agent, because he told me this on the phone. The Norwegian website says that I need a U.S. visa waiver and must supply the number no less than 72 hours before the flight. Which means that, 72 hours before the flight, their computer system could cancel my booking since it shows that I didn't get the visa from the U.S. It will just show that I didn't complete the information it is asking for. There isn't a person at Norwegian who reviews the booking and says, "He doesn't need a U.S. visa waiver because he's from the U.S." Their booking program might just delete the booking because the information wasn't complete. Even if I go to the airport three days before the flight, Norwegian has no customer service staff at the airports. I found that out when I took them to London in 2015. The flight was delayed and there was nobody to speak to about booking another flight (if you don't know about that, once you have a booking, the airline has to "release" you from that flight before you can book a flight on another carrier at the same time. That's how we found out that Norwegian has no terminal staff. Just pilots and flight crew.

Posted by
6334 posts

@Sasha, I don't think the OP has changed his/her story at all. It's a bit confusing but I understand the OP's predicament and concern.

OP - it sounds to me like there is some glitch in the Norwegian website as they should not be asking about a visa waiver for a ticket originating in the US, only for a ticket coming to the US. Since you don't feel that you can accept the agent's advice to not worry about it then there really is no other option but to book a ticket through a different airline even if it costs more. There shouldn't be a problem cancelling the booking with Norwegian since they're saying it's not complete w/out the visa waiver. If you can't get any further answers or assurances from Norwegian I don't see what else you can do. It doesn't look like anyone here has had this situation.

Posted by
17 posts

Right, Nancy. Except it's a non-refundable ticket. They'll probably keep the money. Remember, it wasn't until after I paid for it that I got the screen telling me I needed to provide my visa waiver number to complete the booking. They charged my credit card first.

Posted by
6334 posts

In that case, if I were in your shoes, I would accept the agent's advice to not worry about it. I would, however, keep trying to get a better answer from a Norwegian rep.

Posted by
2778 posts

It is confusing because sometimes you say visa waiver and sometimes you say visa. They are completely different. And you posted in the England forum when you are going to Germany. I know this problem is with the Norwegian Air website (you don't have to shout) but I mentioned Germany as a possible source of the problem, since you have a one-way ticket (thinking visa here, not visa waiver).

You didn't say until now where and when you saw this notice. So it came after you bought the ticket and paid for it. Did you get a confirmation number? Or just the advisory that the booking is not confirmed until you enter your visa waiver verification? Looking at the link Laura provided, I am thinking that this advisory appears as a blanket thing with bookings to/from the US, whether required or not. Here is what the Norwegian website says:

"Travelling to/from U.S and UK
When travelling to/from the U.S and UK, there are certain regulations regarding mandatory information which you must provide before your flight.

Advanced Passenger Information (APIS)
U.S and UK government authorities require that all airlines collect Advanced Passenger Information from all passengers prior to travel. You can register Advanced Passenger Information via My Travels.

You will be asked to provide all or some of the following information:

all names (first, middle and last names) exactly as written in your passport
date of birth
gender
passport number and country of issue
passport expiry date
nationality

72 hours for U.S
If you are travelling to the U.S, you are required to provide advanced passenger information at least 72 hours prior to departure. If your booking is made less than 72 hours prior to departure, you will be asked to provide this information at the time of booking. If you do not provide the information on time, you may not be permitted to travel.

If you're travelling on a flight to or from the U.S, you also need to provide:

your address in the U.S for the first night’s stay (except for citizens or residents of the U.S)
your redress number (if applicable). The redress number is a reference number issued by the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to travellers who have previously experienced difficulties obtaining entry to the U.S.
A visa may also be required for you to enter the U.S. See information regarding ESTA and the Visa Waiver program below."


Curiously, they only mentioned APIS as required 72 hours in advance, not a visa waiver. But you say they want a visa waiver. This is indeed strange. all I can say is we fly British Airways to and from London and before the return flight we always get a reminder that we need an ESTA (visa waiver) to enter the US. We get that notice even though we have flown with them many times and they have our US passport numbers. We know the advisory does not apply to us so we just ignore it. No problem.

Since you have a non-refundable ticket there is really nothing else you can do, except maybe keep calling and trying to get it straightened out.

Posted by
6506 posts

Their site definitely sounds messed up. Norwegian should have the software written such that if you are a U.S. citizen and have a U.S. passport (which details of course you have to enter on the site), it should never ask you anything about Visa Waiver (which is a U.S. program for certain European countries, and obviously NOT necessary for US-passport-carrying-person!).

I don't know why everyone's giving you so much back and forth with this -- you're absolutely right, their site is messed up, and it certainly would be a bit unnerving for me to be in a situation where the site was telling me to supply something that by definition I would not be able to supply, or it will cancel my booking!

What a mess.

Posted by
2778 posts

Spending way too much time one this, but----he did not state the problem clearly in the first place. He simply said was "booking a flight with a change in London" but did not say which direction. Nor that it is a one-way ticket. All of that is useful in understanding what the problem might be, but he did not clarify that he was flying FROM the US on a one-way ticket until post #5.

And he didn't describe where in the booking process the problem arose until after that. So someone reading this could not tell if this really is a computer glitch, or simply a case of mistaken understanding of the booking process and requirements.

Sometimes when a person complains of an issue like this I will try the booking process myself to see what is going on---I have done that for people who can't figure out the Trenitalia site or get weird error codes, just to try to understand ---and help. I wasn't going to do that here because I am not going to buy a ticket on Norwegian just to test the process. But my and her whole family have flown Norwegian couple of times from LA to Europe and back---one couple on their honeymoon---and none of them ever mentioned this booking problem. And we talk about travel stuff all the time.

So I don't know what to think. Maybe it is something related to the one-way ticket. Or maybe it is not a website problem at all----just a routine advisory for all passengers traveling between the US and Europe, regardless of direction and regardless of the passenger's passport. In which case it can be ignored. (It would not surprise me if they don't filter for those things, it is easier to just send it to everyone who makes a booking and let them figure it out).

I will suggest that if he want a better answer he should go post in the Norwegian Air forum on Flyer Talk. Those people are experts. Or the Air Travel forum on Tripadvisor, if he wants a wide range of opinions.

Posted by
2778 posts

Kim, maybe the software "should" be written to recognize that a US citizen traveling on a US passport which is entered on the website does not need an ESTA. But do you know of any cases where that is so? As I said above! we fly British Airways and always get the notice about passengers going to the US needing an ESTA. I just checked it and it said "important information for travelers to the USA--- wherever you live and whatever your nationality, you are responsible for providing the correct documents for entry into the US. . . ."
And then there is a red button to apply for an ESTA under the Visa waiver program.

Now granted this is not as threatening as what the OP describes for Norwegian---threatening to cancel the flight if an ESTA is not provided---it still could be confusing to an inexperienced traveler.

And if you think I am crazy about the one-way ticket perhaps causing a problem, here is a traveler who was denied boarding by Norwegian Air because he had a one-way ticket and apparently not adequate proof of onward travel. The travel in this case was to the US not from the US, but I am not sure that makes a difference.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i10702-k8531586-Wrongly_denied_boarding_at_gate_gross_error_by_Norwegian-Air_Travel.html

The airline has the responsibility of pre-screening for passengers who may not be admitted to the destination country for various reasons, a one-way ticket being a common one.

So while this is not related to the ESTA part of the OP's complaint, it may be a separate problem, best sorted out now.

Posted by
3178 posts

You have a ticket so stop fretting. It's a software bug, cheap airlines have crappy websites.

Posted by
31289 posts

argo,

My suggestion would be to just purchase the ticket through a travel agent. No guarantees, but h/she should be able to sort the problem for you. T.A.'s may have methods to contact airlines that aren't available to the general public.

Posted by
2778 posts

I think argo has left the building, so to speak.

Much ado about nothing.

Posted by
47 posts

Good Lord. I have flown Norwegian 3 times without any hassle. This VISA wavier deal can be ignored, as my wife and daughter had the exact same question just yesterday, and ignored it and flew into Gatwick with zero hassle.
Nice flight, on Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and 2 round trip tickets from LAX cost under $1,000.
Case closed.

Posted by
17 posts

Ken, I don't know what difference purchasing a ticket from a travel agent would make. They don't have any control over what the airline does. In Norwegian's case, they didn't have an airworthy plane available and, by the time they'd located one, they had lost their runway priority. (Apparently, you have to be ready for takeoff within a certain amount of time.) Sasha, I really think that you work for the airline (or an airlines consortium), as you've been nothing but nasty and insulting in your posts. RJ, I'm glad your experience was better than mine. My flight to Gatwick was delayed by 2 1/2 hours, then delayed again. It arrived about 6 hours late. All they did to compensate us was give us $15 vouchers at JFK to buy food (not enough for a meal at JFK) before the flight took off. If I had a connection at Gatwick, I would have missed it. Norwegian has no customer service staff at JFK, so there is nobody to whom you can speak. All you can do is call them on your mobile. I spent hours trying to get through to someone. When I finally did get a person, their answer is that they don't care to hear about the problem.

Posted by
71 posts

Your most recent post said if you had a Gatwick connection you would have missed it.....I thought your first post said you had a connection in London....did I miss something?

Posted by
17 posts

The previous trip was just to Gatwick, and it was almost 6 hours late. I didn't have a connection, but I did have a meeting in London for which I was late, since the plane, which should have arrived at Gatwick at 10 am, got in around 3:30. It took off from JFK not much before it was supposed to be landing at Gatwick. That's the one for which I said that IF I had a connecting flight, I would have missed it. The trip I just booked has a Gatwick connection with 90 minutes between flights. BOTH are Norwegian. They show it as one trip with a connection at Gatwick. I wouldn't have paired those flights on my own, knowing about Norwegian's on-time record.

Posted by
70 posts

What have you decided then about the visa waiver?

Posted by
12203 posts

Now you are talking of a previous flight? No context given. If you had such a bad experience with Norwegian before, why fly them again? It doesn't seem to be worth all this aggravation to save a few hundred dollars.

Posted by
17 posts

I don't know what you mean by "context". What context do you require for a statement that Norwegian flights tend to be many hours late, if they aren't cancelled entirely, and that they have no customer service representatives available to assist people? In fact, in 2014, Norwegian media reported that their own ministry of transportation was investigating Norwegian, as they have never seen so many complaints about a carrier before. (Note, too, the second article, that says that Norwegian has now "cave[d] in to" passenger complaints and now permits passengers on long-distance flights to obtain water at no additional charge. http://www.newsinenglish.no/?s=norwegian+complaints)

Posted by
12203 posts

I meant there is no context given for your post at 4:11 pm. You addressed Ken about travel agents and then in line 3 said "they didn't have an airworthy plane available . . ." without saying what event you were talking about. Up until that point you were complaining about the visa waiver issue but then you suddenly switched to a complaint about a flight to Gatwick.

Maybe I am dense but I have trouble following what you are talking about.

Posted by
17 posts

Okay, there are two trips. The one I already took was six hours late because Norwegian didn't have a plane. That one had no connections. It was going to London, and that's all. Except it was six hours late, because Norwegian didn't have a plane. The one I haven't taken yet has a connection to another Norwegian flight that leaves from Gatwick an hour and a half after the Norwegian flight from JFK is scheduled to arrive at Gatwick. Given that the previous flight I took was six hours late because Norwegian didn't have a plane that could fly, I am now concerned that I will not arrive at Gatwick in enough time to change planes and take the connecting Norwegian flight. In addition to being worried about making the connection, I am also worried because the Norwegian site is telling me that I must obtain a visa waiver from the United States. We all agree that I don't need a visa waiver because (a) I'm not entering the U.S., I'm leaving it, and (b) I'm a U.S. citizen, so I don't even need a visa or a visa waiver to enter the U.S. Even the Norwegian rep I finally reached on the phone agrees with that. However, the Norwegian website said that my booking is not final unless I provide the number of my U.S. visa waiver no less than 72 hours before the flight. That's an automatic thing from the Norwegian computer system, so it doesn't matter that a person has told me to ignore it. If the booking system is telling me that my booking isn't final without providing the number of my U.S. visa waiver, then it seems that the booking system will cancel the booking if I don't provide it with that number, which I cannot obtain, because U.S. citizens can't even apply for a visa waiver to enter the U.S. There is no such thing, but the Norwegian booking system seems not to allow that. It just keeps asking me for the visa waiver number, the way it asks for your passport number. Remember, too, that, as I found out when the previous flight was 6 hours late, Norwegian has no staff at the airports, so there isn't a way that I can go to the airport in advance to try to sort it out. There's nobody there. I have to wait until less than 72 hours before my flight and see if I still have a booking.

Posted by
12203 posts

Your earlier flight to Gatwick was six hours late because " they didn't have a plane." Have you never experienced a late flight before? Norwegian Air is a low-cost carrier and it is true they do not have extra planes sitting around at every airport in case of problems. But late flights can happen with any airline. Our daughter was stuck in Amsterdam for some 48 hours because KLM ( not a low-cost carrier) cancelled her flight, and it took that long to find a spare.

Your issue seems to have morphed from the ESTA issue to the possibility of the plane being late so you miss a connecting flight. This is a possibility with any connecting flight, regardless of airline, but only a possibility. Yet you seem to beliece that a missed connection is a virtual certainty for your next flight. So why in the world did you book Norwegian again, after your last horrible experience?

Posted by
25742 posts

Sometimes people just like arguing for the sake of arguing.

DNFTT.

Posted by
1786 posts

I'm stressed out just listening to all of this!

Argocommunications, I hope you report back to us what happens with your flight. I've only heard good things about the airline and was hoping to use them on our next trip. Now I wonder if that is a good idea or not.

Maybe if you post on "General Europe" you will get more help from people who have used Norwegian multiple times so you will get specific help or encouragement.

Posted by
681 posts

A few posts were deleted here. This is a reminder to keep arguments off the boards. I'm not issuing warnings here as it seemed to be due to miscommunication all around. A little more patience on all sides please.

Posted by
22 posts

I read through all of this a few days ago and was quite concerned as I have flights to and from Europe booked for June. I got this answer from Norwegian today in response to my question on their facebook page.

Norwegian Hi.
This is only a reminder for the passengers who need to apply for the ESTA.
Best regards
Lene

Posted by
5666 posts

Thanks for that info, LyndaC. Good to know how to reach them !

Posted by
87 posts

I have a Norwegian Air flight booked. Looking at the "My Travels" page I see a notice that says this: "When travelling to the USA, all passengers eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for an Electronic System Travel Authorisation (ESTA)."

As a U.S. citizen, I am not eligible for this program. I don't need it. This message isn't for me, it is for people from around the world traveling through the US. It doesn't apply to you either, you don't need to do anything about this, it will not effect your reservation if you don't fill this out, just make sure you have entered your passport information before your trip.

If that is the message you are seeing, there is nothing wrong and you are fine. If you are seeing a different message then I don't know what to tell you!

Posted by
117 posts

Yep, have flights to Gatwick scheduled for early March. I see the ESTA message, but it doesn't apply. And it seems clearly stated as to why. Good luck though.