Miami International Airport, passengers entering Passport Control
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There’s a key step many people are missing on their way to their destination, and it could put a halt on their travel plans. That step? The all-important visa.

A British couple recently learned the hard way that it’s crucial to check visa requirements for your destination before leaving for the airport, The Independent reported. And it's just as important to print out the requirements and carry them with you.

Travelers Ian and Jane Swann were attempting to check in at Christchurch airport for their early morning Qantas flight to Sydney, with a connection to Beijing, when they were refused entry.

“They say we do not have a visa and their information is we require an approved visa prior to boarding flight,” Jane Swan told The Independent.

The pair, who had been in New Zealand visiting their son, also planned a stop over in Beijing, and didn’t have a visa for the stopover. They didn't expect to encounter any problems because a recent rule change loosened immigration regulations there, allowing transit visitors to stay up to six days. However, it appears the gate agents weren’t aware the rule change had taken place.

The Swans were indeed in the right, and weren’t required to carry a visa. Still, the couple was forced to book an entirely new flight with Emirates through Dubai to get home.

“We spent some 54 hours in transit back home — an exhausting, stressful and expensive time for us, and not the way this trip of a lifetime should have ended,” the Swans said.

On the bright side, Qantas is admitting to their mistake. “We apologise for the inconvenience caused to the Swann family who were incorrectly denied travel from Christchurch to Beijing for allegedly not having the required visas,” the airline said in a statement. “We’re working with our check-in team to ensure this mistake doesn’t happen again and have reached out to the customer to offer compensation.”

While planning your next excursion check out Visa HQ, where you can search by your citizenship and destination to see what’s really required. Then print that page out to present to a gate agent so you can ensure you make it to your intended destination on time.