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Malaysia Airlines turns away NZ visa-holders

written by Hannah Dowling | July 7, 2020

The airline has reportedly been denying passengers from boarding flights back to New Zealand, despite them having appropriate visas for entry into the country.

Reports have surfaced that multiple individuals have been refused from boarding a Malaysia Airlines flight from Cambodia to New Zealand due to their paperwork, despite being holders of exemption visas that were signed off by New Zealand Immigration.

New Zealander Nina Duhamel and her Argentinian partner Ramiro attempted to board flight MH755 from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 3 July, the first leg of their journey back to Auckland, via Kuala Lumpur.

Prior to booking the flight, Duhamel and her partner were able to secure him with an exemption visa, granted by New Zealand Immigration, which works to allow non-New Zealand citizens into the country, despite the current border restrictions.

Despite bringing a printed version of the exemption visa with them to the airport, the couple report they were told by the staff at the Malaysia Airlines check-in desk that only Duhamel, a New Zealand citizen, was allowed to board the flight.

The couple stated they showed the check-in personnel the visa document, which explicitly states that the visa provides an exemption from New Zealand’s border controls, however they were told by multiple members of staff that they would have to wait.

Despite making calls to New Zealand Immigration and the closest New Zealand embassy, the couple were unable to resolve the matter in time to catch the flight.


Malaysia Airlines initially attempted to label the couple as a ‘no-show’, offering no options to change the dates of flight. The couple are following up the matter with the airline in the hopes of securing seats on the same flight route, departing 17 July.

Further, Duhamel reported that they were not the only individuals to be refused boarding that day.

Upon arriving at Phnom Penh Airport, Duhamel stated that there were “already lots of people who had obviously been refused boarding”, all of whom were “very angry, crying, and off to one side trying to sort things out”.

She also stated that they came across another couple in the same situation, with one individual on an exemption visa, who were also turned away at the check-in desk.

An Immigration NZ spokesperson confirmed that Ramiro had all the correct and necessary documentation to enter into New Zealand, and the department was following the matter up with staff in the region.

In a statement, Immigration NZ said it “strongly encourages travellers to contact their airline before they travel”.

“We also encourage travellers to remind airline staff that the eVisa letter is a valid document and ask the airline staff to contact INZ if they have questions,” it said.

“INZ is making some enquiries in Phnom Penh to find out more about the circumstances of this case and if necessary will also contact Malaysia Airlines.”

The news comes as Air New Zealand announced that it will close bookings on all inbound international flights into the country for a period of at least two weeks, as locals continue their attempts to fly home as the pandemic period worsens.


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