Around the World in 100 Hours: Transiting Colombo

United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco

The crux of this trip was a first class fare out of Colombo. This meant that we bought tickets originating out of Colombo, so we didn’t have a single itinerary that indicated specifically that we were only transiting through Sri Lanka.

While we never planned to leave the airport, and the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization System website says that “ETA is not a pre-condition to board a flight/vessel to Sri Lanka”, we thought that it might be wise to apply for an ETA prior to the trip anyway. For trips under 2 days, you can get a transit visa for free.

After submitting my application, I received an email saying that I should receive a response within 24 hours. In actuality, I ended up receiving the approval 74 hours after I applied, which was after I had already finished transiting through Colombo.

In the end, it didn’t matter that I didn’t receive explicit approval as the transit process was uneventful. Although the check-in agent at Seoul asked if I had an ETA for Sri Lanka when I was checking in, I just showed my ticket for onward travel and printout of acknowledgement of ETA application and she seemed to be fine with that. Once we arrived in Colombo, we just headed to the transit desk to collect our boarding passes for our next flights. We had no need to clear immigration (unless we specifically wanted lounge invitations and special stock for our boarding passes), so we didn’t need the ETAs.

The airport itself was fine for a short layover. If you’re looking for free wifi and don’t have lounge access, you should be able to just sit outside one of the airport lounges and pick up the signal. At the time I visited, there were no passwords for the wifi, and I was able to pick up each lounge’s wifi in the other lounge across the hall.

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