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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Documentation for travel

    Where can I find Passport, Visa and Health advice?

    ​The IATA Travel Centre is the most accurate information source available for personalized passport, visa and health requirement advice depending on your nationality and destination.

    IATA's immigration specialists constantly update this information. But rules and regulations change on a daily basis. Possessing the correct documentation does not guarantee entry to a foreign country. Local immigration authorities have complete control whether an individual is granted entry and under what conditions and airlines may also apply specific guidelines. Re-check requirements close to your departure. Please refer to the IATA Travel Centre Terms and Conditions.

    Passenger rights

    Can IATA help me with my airline/airport complaint?

    ​While IATA serves the airline industry, it is not a regulatory body, and cannot intervene in service disputes or other commercial matters involving airlines or agents and their customers. For any issue, approach the respective airline or agent directly.

    Is there a governmental authority?

    If you wish to escalate an issue related to any aspect of air travel, contact the Civil Aviation Authorities of the country in which the airline is registered. Directory of Civil Aviation Authorities

    What are my rights with regard to an incident or accident related to a journey by air?

    The Conditions of contract and other important information details airline liability with regard to passenger death or bodily injury, loss of or damage to baggage, and for delay. It also defines passenger rights and obligations for denied boarding, check-in times, baggage and the transport of dangerous goods. There may be some regional adaptation of the ticket notice. Please check out the ticket notice applicable to the country of departure indicated on your ticket: www.iatatravelcentre.com/ticketSome passengers may be eligible for compensation under European Regulation 261 for compensation and assistance to passengers in the events of denied boarding and cancellation or long flight delay.

    Are there consumer organizations that I can contact?

    Are there rules for persons with reduced mobility that airlines should follow?

    Yes there are. A resolution lays out service standards for passengers with reduced mobility on journeys involving two or more airlines (interline journeys). It requires that airlines have special equipment made available when necessary, offer priority boarding and organize individual briefings on safety procedures. It also provides for passengers with reduced mobility to be attended throughout the entirety of an airport transfer.


    How do I know how much baggage I can travel with free of charge?

    It’s important to ask your airline or travel agent when you purchase your ticket as the free baggage allowance can vary by airline, routing and class of fare. Free allowance baggage is generally defined as those items necessary for the passenger's journey, such as clothing and personal articles within certain limitations.

    How many pieces can I take?

    IATA has guidelines for baggage but the number and weight of baggage allowed free of charge can vary by airline, routing and fare. The "piece concept" defines the number of bags entitled by the passenger's ticket. Generally, two pieces of checked baggage are allowed per passenger, each piece weighing a maximum of 32 kilos (70 lb) and measuring no more than 158 cm (62 in) adding the dimensions: height + width + length. But check with the carrier because some airlines/airports have limits per bag which may be lower and for journeys with a single carrier, there may also be baggage limitation. The "piece concept" is generally in use on flights within, to and from Canada and the United States.

    What about cabin baggage - how many pieces can I carry on?

    Carry-on baggage must be stowed in the aircraft cabin which limits baggage to a size, weight and shape to fit under a passenger seat or in a storage compartment. Cabin baggage should have maximum length of 22 in (56 cm), width of 18 in (45 cm) and depth of 10 in (25 cm). These dimensions include wheels, handles, side pockets, etc. Baggage allowed onboard may vary from one to two pieces per passenger. Check with your airline as to what is allowed.

    Why do so many bags go missing?

    Actually, globally 98.2% of all baggage travels with the passenger as planned. And the vast majority of bags that are mishandled are returned to the passenger within 48 hours. This does not detract from the fact that arriving without your baggage is a significant inconvenience. Many baggage mishandlings occur at the transfer point due to punctuality issues, and these are often caused by air traffic control congestion. Sometimes it is simply not possible to move the bags between flights in the time available. IATA and its members continue to work hard to improve baggage performance further.

    What liquids, aerosols and gels am I allowed to bring on board?

    The International Civil Aviation Organisation, the UN’s aviation standard-setting body, has defined guidelines that more and more governments are adopting. The current restrictions for liquids, aerosols and gels from ICAO and in effect in most many countries are that they must be in containers 100ml or equivalent, placed in a transparent resealable plastic bag with max capacity 1-litre. At screening, plastic bags should be presented apart from other carry on items.

    Are there exemptions?

    Yes, a few. Medications, baby milk/foods, special dietary requirements are exempt. Consult your local airport’s website for more information.

    What about duty free items?

    Passengers should ask and make sure the liquid products they are buying will not be confiscated later on in their trip. Different countries have different requirements and determine if duty free purchased in another country is allowed or not. In certain countries, it will be placed in a sealed tamper-evident bag, with the proof of purchase. This is meant to allow the passenger’s purchases to go through other airports without being confiscated, although this needs an agreement between the countries concerned.

    What is RFID?

    RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is a technology incorporated into a silicon chip embedded in a tag. The tag can be updated with new information, which is the main difference from other technologies used such as bar code. This means that new information can be updated on an item’s tag as it travels around different locations. The technology also allows for tags to be read from a distance, through most substances, and for multiple tags to be read at one time, making it ideal for environments where items are stored in piles.

    Is RFID technology the way to eliminate missing baggage?

    It is part of the solution. RFID can fix about 20% of baggage mishandling issues. The IATA business case showed that this was economically feasible, and the baggage improvement programme is now looking to address the use of RFID and also tackle the other 80% of mishandling issues. It’s important to understand that over 98% of baggage arrives at its destination with the passenger as planned!

    What do I do when my bag goes missing?

    First, you report it to the baggage claims department on arrival. There you will provide information to the airline to help them track down your baggage. Most airlines use a global system called WorldTracer which a joint product provided by IATA and SITA, a technology group that is owned by airlines. All missing baggage information is filed on this system. Once a match is found, the baggage is returned to its owner. The vast majority of mishandled luggage is returned to the passenger within 48 hours.

    How do I make sure my bag is packed correctly?


    • Make sure your baggage is not overweight. Check before flying as baggage weight allowances vary by airline but as a general rule if you can't lift your bag, it is likely airline staff won't be able to either.
    • Please use something to identify your bag; a lot of luggage looks the same, if not identical. Ideally use an individualised strap rather than tying a cloth to the handle as this obscures the baggage label.
    • Please pack your bag uniformly. Heavy and dense objects can cause the bag to move as well as delays at security.
    • Please remove any labels and tags from previous flights.
    • Please place a luggage label on one handle of your bag
    • Does your bag have wheels? Please lock them, if possible, to prevent movement after check-in.
    • Does your travel insurance cover the cost of replacing the contents of your bag and the bag itself?
    • Have you listed the contents of your bag in case you need to make an insurance claim?
    • Is your bag over-packed? Please use another bag if this one was hard to close.
    • If you have straps on your bag please remove them and place them in your bag.
    • Please do not lock your bag as it may need to be searched.

    Travelling with pets

    What should I consider if I want to bring a pet?

    For common household pets – namely cats and dogs – there are a number of considerations. Before calling the airline have the answer to the following questions:

    • Is your pet going to travel within your own country, or will it be travelling internationally?
    • When do you want your pet to travel?
    • What is your pet's size and weight?
    • How many animals will be travelling?
    • Is your pet to be accompanied?
    • Do you intend to break the journey, or stopover at an intermediate station?
    • What is the pet's final destination?
    • Do you have a suitable container for your pet?

    Check the IATA Travel Centre Country Information section for customs regulations about travelling with pets

    Do I need a special health certificate for my cat or dog?

    Most airlines require a health certificate for any animal they are transporting, whether in the cabin or as an unaccompanied shipment.

    Check the IATA Travel Centre Country Information section for customs regulations about travelling with pets.

    Is there anything I should do to prepare my pet for travel?

    To prepare your pet, reduce the quantity of food the day before but give it enough water. You should take your dog for a walk before leaving for the airport and again before check-in. A light meal 2 hours before tendering the animal to the carrier will help to calm it and is a legal requirement in the United States.

    Check the IATA Travel Centre Country Information section for customs regulations about travelling with pets

    Can they travel in the cabin with me?

    Small dogs and cats may be allowed in the cabin, depending on airline policy. Some airlines will not allow pets in the cabin and will transport them in a heated and ventilated hold. Typically, cats and dogs actually travel better in the baggage hold because it is quieter and they will rest in a darkened environment.

    In addition, depending on the country of departure and destination, service animals (which are not pets and are defined as working animals that assist persons with disabilities) may be allowed (by law) to travel in the cabin.

    Check the IATA Travel Centre Country Information section for customs regulations about travelling with pets.

    Are there certain types of dogs that travel better than others?

    Transport of snub nose dogs, such as boxers, pugs, bulldogs and Pekinese, in hot season is not recommended. These animals have difficulty maintaining a normal body temperature in hot weather.

    Check the IATA Travel Centre Country Information section for customs regulations about travelling with pets.

    Are there any other helpful tips I should follow?

    The more advance notice the better as some airlines restrict the number of animals on a flight. Contact the airline you have selected to confirm that they accept your pet on the day and flight that you prefer. Reconfirm at least 48 hours before departure. Also it’s a good idea to find out how soon before the flight you have to check in. Pets become stressed with all the bustle at an airport, so keep it to a minimum. If your pet is allowed in the cabin, check in as late as possible. If it is going in the hold, check in early so that it can go to the baggage area and be put somewhere quiet and dimly lit in order to relax.

    Check the IATA Travel Centre Country Information section for customs regulations about travelling with pets.

    What if I decide to ship my pet via air cargo?

    The same general advice applies. Additionally, check with the airline to ensure the air freight facility is open so your pet may be claimed by the consignee. Also note that it is preferable to ship your pet on week days as more staff are working and liaison is easier all along the route.

    Where can I find more information?

    You will find additional information, on the Traveller Pet Corner of our corporate site, as well as on the customs regulations section of your destination country.


    What you need to know about aviation and the environment

    You will find answers on all your questions related to the environment on www.enviro.aero, the aviation industry’s environment site.


    What is interline travel?

    ​On a worldwide basis, a large proportion of journeys require the services of two or more airlines in order for the passenger to complete a single journey. The interline system is the global network of international air transport services linking most cities with scheduled air services. It has been facilitated by IATA's creation of standards accepted by carriers around the world.

    What does an interline ticket offer?

    The interline system provides a travel option that enables:

    • fully flexible fares
    • last minute changes/routings on other airlines 
    • provides a single ticket (fare) for a journey using 2 or more carriers
    • provides for baggage transfer at connecting points
    • interlining provides consumers with additional flexibility when:
      • direct flights are not operated on the day or at the time the consumer wishes to travel
      • the passenger wishes to stop at an intermediate city or cities
      • the passenger chooses to fly on different airlines on the outbound and the return journeys

    Does it cost extra?

    Yes a premium is charged for the additional flexibility these fares offer.

    What is an electronic ticket?

    An e-ticket is an electronic record that holds the information previously held on a paper ticket and stores it securely on a database. Electronic tickets follow IATA global standards and are therefore compatible with ground handling, distribution and accounting processes used by the global community of airlines.

    Is there a difference between "ticketless" and e-ticket?

    Yes. “Ticketless” is basically a way of recording the sale and is used typically by low cost airlines on point to point travel. It does not conform to industry electronic ticketing standards and therefore cannot be used for journeys involving two or more airlines.

    Are electronic tickets secure?

    Yes. E-ticketing was first introduced by the airline industry back in 1995. It is a process that has been tried, tested and widely appreciated in many markets. By introducing e-ticketing, all fraud related to paper tickets is automatically eliminated. The electronic ticket sits safely on the airline’s secured database. However, consumers should make sure they buy tickets from a trusted supplier – either directly from the airline or from an IATA accredited travel agent.

    Do I need to have access to the Internet to use electronic ticketing?

    No. While the Internet is both a sales and distribution channel, the e-ticket purchase can be done by phone or at a ticket office. The itinerary receipt can be mailed, sent by fax or e-mail, or picked up at a ticketing location.

    How do travellers using e-tickets prove they are booked on a flight?

    ​At check-in, passengers can present a valid ID such as a passport, an ID card, driver's license or credit card. Passengers should always be provided with an itinerary receipt. And IATA recommends that passengers take the itinerary receipt with them when they travel.

    Traveler alert! - Fake travel agency websites

    ​IATA is aware that there are fraudulent online travel and flight booking agencies operating internationally. These websites can appear highly professional and may even display the IATA logo to make their webpages appear legitimate. Because this is a growing concern, we urge you to use only verified agents (Accredited agents/agencies will provide their IATA code if asked and this can be verified online via the Check a Code website or through the IATA Customer Portal.  Please be cautious of any agent whose website states that they accept credit cards for payment, but then requests payment via wire transfer only.

    If you learn of or suspect an online agency of fraud, please contact information.security@iata.org. Please remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is

    Aviation Safety

    Is flying safer than taking a train or bus?

    ​Yes. Flying is the safest form of long distance transport with 1.61 accidents per 1 million flights.

    What is the industry doing to improve safety?

    ​Safety is our industry’s number one priority. IATA provides airlines with a wide array of tools and programmes to improve safety. Key among these is the IATA Safety Audit Programme (IOSA). IOSA is the world's first airline safety audit programme, based on internationally harmonised standards and requiring compliance with over 900 standards and recommended practices. Satisfactory completion of the IOSA audit is now a requirement for IATA membership. List of IOSA-registered airlines.

    What are blacklists?

    ​The European Union has created a blacklist of airlines which it is has deemed unsafe to fly in its airspace. EU Regulation on air carriers subject to operating ban (pdf) The blacklist itself is updated periodically and can be found on the EC website.
    IATA does not endorse any blacklists / safety rankings.

    Does IATA have a safety ranking for airlines?

    ​IATA does not consider airline safety ratings to be a valid measure of an individual organization’s safety performance. Furthermore, IATA does not believe that aviation safety should become a competitive issue as it would violate the industry’s position that safety is the highest priority of all involved in aviation. For more information on why safety rankings are inherently flawed, read our Position Paper (pdf).

    All IATA member airlines must pass the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) as a condition of membership in the organization. Many non-member airlines also chose to undergo the IOSA audit as well. IATA maintains a registry of airlines that have completed its IOSA certification. See the IOSA Registry.

    Self service

    What is a bar-coded boarding pass?

    ​Bar-coded boarding passes use IATA industry-standard 2D bar codes that record the boarding information that was previously recording on the magnetic stripe of old-style boarding passes.

    Why use them?

    ​Bar-coded boarding passes (BCBP) give passengers more options and greater flexibility when checking in and boarding their flight. BCBP gives passengers the option to print their boarding passes at home, then proceed to baggage drop-off or directly to the gate using one document for the entire journey, even on a multi-segment itinerary, further simplifying the travel process for the passenger.

    Do all airlines offer them?

    ​No, not yet. But an increasing number of airlines are as the industry as set a deadline for complete conversion to bar coded boarding passes by the end of 2010.

    How does mobile phone check-in work?

    ​Mobile phone check-in enables airlines to send two dimensional (2D) bar codes directly to a passenger’s mobile phone, personal digital assistant or smart phone. Passengers simply register their mobile number with their airline at the time of booking to receive a text message with a 2D bar code, or instructions to download it. The bar code becomes the passenger’s boarding pass and it is read directly from the screen of the mobile device, eliminating paper completely from the check-in process.

    Is this widely available?

    ​Mobile phone check-in is a relatively new phenomenon and is currently offered by a limited number of carriers. However, that number is expected to grow.

    Are bar-coded boarding passes the way of the future?

    ​Yes…at least the immediate future. By the end of 2010 all airlines will issue IATA-standard bar-coded boarding passes only. That means the magnetic-stripe boarding passes will eventually disappear.

    What are self-service check-in kiosks? How can I use them?

    ​Self-service check-in kiosks are machines that allow passengers to check-in and issue their own boarding card. There are two types of kiosks: dedicated kiosks that facilitate self-service check-in for one carrier and common use kiosks that allow passengers to check-in on multiple airlines using the same, shared kiosk. Self service check-in kiosks are usually located in the airport check-in area, but can also be found in off-airport locations such as hotels.

    Why has the industry moved to more self service?

    ​There are three primary reasons. First, to give passengers more control over their travel experience. Second, to save passengers time. Third, to allow airlines to more efficiently serve their customers.


    How will airport security affect my journey?

    ​Security measures are constantly being updated in line with current threats, which vary from country to country. These measures can often lead to longer times spent between check-in and boarding. Passengers should be aware of restrictions regarding baggage and the carrying of liquids and gels before they travel and should allow plenty of time to clear security on departure. See our FAQs on Baggage. Passengers should also check which rules will apply to their journey before purchasing duty free goods.

    Do I have to pay for security when I fly?

    ​The cost of security is borne by the airlines and is built into the price of your ticket.

    What are airlines doing to make security less troublesome for travellers?

    ​Although some of the measures in place can be inconvenient, it is necessary for everyone to take responsibility for security. IATA and its member airlines are working with many authorities worldwide to ensure that security measures are harmonised between countries, are easy to understand, and make use of efficient processes and new technologies to help achieve a smoother journey.

    Border control

    What are the automatic gates that are used at some airports when arriving into a country?

    ​Some countries offer automated gates on arrival that check passengers against a database of passport information and allow them to enter the country without seeing an immigration officer. They typically use a ‘biometric’ means of identification to validate the passenger, for example a fingerprint, photograph of an iris or a comparison of the face with the photograph in the passport.

    Can anyone use them?

    ​It usually depends on the country you are travelling to, and your nationality. If you are a frequent flyer, you should check with the immigration authority to see if you would be eligible and whether you need to register for the program. IATA is working with many authorities to encourage the use of this type of automation to help with queuing times.

    Healthy flying

    Is there a good general reference on the issues of health and wellbeing related to air travel?

    ​The World Health Organization (WHO) publishes a manual called ''International Travel and Health'' which is a good resource for travellers. The second chapter of the manual deals with modes of travel and health considerations; it provides a very clear general overview of health and wellbeing in air travel. The manual features a range of topics such as cabin air pressure, flight phobia, communicable diseases, etc. and also includes a list of precautions to take while travelling.

    Where can I find more information on specific diseases or groups of diseases and air travel?

    ​The Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) has an article called ''Health Tips for Airline Travel'' that is available online.

    Where can my physician find out whether my particular illness makes me fit for travel?

    ​The Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) article on "Medical Considerations for Airline Travel" is specifically meant for physicians. (Also change the link for the one mentioned above) Physicians can also check IATA's Medical Manual, providing guidelines on fitness to fly.

    Travel and cargo agents

    How to become an IATA-accredited travel agency?

    As of September 2016, travel agents can apply for IATA accreditation online via our Travel Agent Accreditation page.

    There are several steps to follow in order to apply for IATA accreditation:


    • Ensure you meet the local criteria as specified in the 'Travel Agent Handbook​'
    • Select your country of application and read the Application Guide
    • Submit your Application as specified in the Application Guide for your country​​ 
    • Pay the Accreditation fee as specified in the 'Application Guide ' (Agents in Europe, Middle East and Africa : you will be contacted for payment once your application has been accepted)
    • For any question and support, please register and login to our Customer Portal at www.iata.org/cs​ and contact our Customer Service teams via the 'Contact Support' tab once logged in

    Accreditation information for agents in Russian Federation.

    What is an IATA/IATAN Travel Agent Card, and how can I apply for one?

    An IATA/IATAN Travel Agent Card means global recognition of your professional experience when you show your valid ID Card to a travel supplier.

    Travel professionals who hold an IATA/IATAN ID Card receive exclusive access to education and travel rewards programs from industry suppliers such as hotels, airlines, attractions, FAM trips organizers and more.

    Industry suppliers often use CheckACode to validate your agent status on the spot. As such, IATA/IATAN ID Cards can be instantly validated on CheckACode.com.

    For agents based ​in the US, please visit​ IATAN site.


    How to become an IATA cargo agency?

    Any company involved in international ​air freight and complying with appropriate license and legal requirements can be accredited. 

    As an IATA Cargo Agent, you'll have recognition of your financial and professional competence. Airlines working with our cargo agents have access to a worldwide distribution network of approved agents to sell their product.​

    Please contact us via our Customer Portal for more information. Or if you are in the US, please go to the CNSC website

    How to receive assistance with issues related to BSP, BSPlink, CASS and CASSlink?

    • For Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, go to the Customer Portal
    • For other regions, check out the country pages under IATA by Region

    What are the processes behind the transportation of dangerous goods?

    For information about dangerous goods, please visit our Go to our Dangerous Goods FAQ page

    Preventing email and website fraud

    I have been contacted by a fake IATA website/email address, what do I do?

    Be vigilent by only using IATA-verified agencies. Please see our guidelines on how to report suspect fraudulent activities.

    How do I check travel agent accreditation?

    You can check the status of a travel agent by requesting their code and entering it into this code checking tool.

    IATA codes

    What are IATA codes?

    IATA is responsible for the programs that generate and manage the airport Codes (and other Codes) used by the commercial aviation industry or other entities whose activities related to commercial aviation. These Codes have become a vital part of the efficient operations for companies involved with aviation operations worldwide. As such, and given the importance of maintaining harmony, IATA owns and controls these Codes, and has a copyright in the complete lists of Codes. With such ownership we are able to prevent inadvertent and/or “rogue” changes to the Codes that would disrupt airline/airport/cargo and other operations.


    Our mission is to represent, lead and serve the airline industry

    Additional information