Getting a travel itinerary for visa application is the most difficult and confusing parts of visa process. Consulates insist on providing with confirmed flight and hotel bookings. But they do not recommend purchasing an actual ticket. They just want an itinerary. Did you see how confusing is that?
Often times the consulates ask for one of these –
- Flight tickets
- Flight itinerary
- Flight confirmation
- Confirmed flight tickets
- Confirmed flight itinerary
- Round trip flight tickets
- Proof of onward travel
They all mean the same thing. “Flight tickets”. Consulates understand the fact that a visa application does not result in a guaranteed approval. Therefore, they only recommend you to “hold” a flight reservation, not actually “purchase” the flight tickets.
If your visa application is denied or delayed, you will lose the money that you have spent on the flight tickets. Airlines and insurance providers do not consider visa denial as a reason for refund claims. So, do not purchase your flight tickets till your visa application is approved.
If consulates would like to see purchased tickets, they will specifically ask for it. For example, Chile visa application mentions that you may have to show your purchased ticket on visa approval.
Not every airline service every route. You have to play around with different airlines and different booking sites to avail the hold option. Below are 14 proven ways to get a travel itinerary for visa application.
Flight itinerary for visa application
1. Purchasing a refundable ticket
This is the best and fool proof option for your flight itinerary. A refundable ticket is a purchased ticket. No one can question it’s authenticity.
Most airlines offer this option at a higher price. Usually 5-10 times higher than a non-refundable or sale ticket. Most airlines process refunds fairly quickly within a few days to a few weeks.
One thing to keep in mind is even though it’s a refundable ticket, some booking sites and airlines charge a fee to cancel the tickets. Few examples –
- Cheapoair – Cancellation fee of $150 USD on “refundable” tickets
- Etihad Airways – Cancellation fee of $75 USD on “refundable” tickets. Etihad calls this some kind of “tax”.
Important tip: Always purchase a refundable ticket directly from the airline website. I suggest you call the airline first inquiring about the cancellation policy of their refundable tickets.
Refundable ticket is a valid ticket. You do not need to worry about the consulate verifying it’s authenticity.
You need to pay for the ticket first which usually is about 5-10 times more than a sale price ticket. Refunds take from a few days to a few weeks depending on the airline. You also need to keep the credit card open to receive the refund.
2. Using a local travel agent to hold a flight reservation
This is the second best method. Travel agents can hold tickets for up to 7 days. They may charge a small fee for this service.
For just a small fee, you will be able to hold a ticket as long as 7 days.
This option is good only if the visa processing takes maximum 7 days.
3. Using a visa ticket booking website
There are quite a few online travel agents providing this service for a small fee. They can hold the ticket for up to 7 days. They also provide express service if you are in a hurry. Few examples –
- Dream Euro Trip – fee €25.99
- Flight Reservation for visa – fee €26.00
- Travel Visa Bookings – fee $25.25 USD
- Travel Visa Guru – fee $14.00 USD
4. Using award miles and hold option
Some airlines will let you hold your reservation for up to 5 days if you are purchasing an award ticket or using your airline miles. The held reservation is a printable itinerary that you can use for your visa application. The reservation might say that it need to be purchased within a given time. But, it is still an acceptable option for visa applications. Few examples –
- American Airlines – hold up to 5 days using Advantage miles.
This option works perfectly fine for visa applications. This service is offered free of charge for the airline award members.
You must have a frequent flyer account and a few thousand miles to avail this option. It may not be useful for visa applications that take longer than 5 days to approve.
5. Free ticket hold option by airlines
Quite a few airlines have the option to hold a fare for up to 48 hours. Few examples –
- Free 48 hour ticket hold option – Copa Airlines
- Free 24 hour ticket hold option – United Airlines (only if you select pay in-person option) and American Airlines.
This service is offered for free of charge by the airlines.
This option may not be useful for visa applications that take longer than 2 days to approve.
6. Free ticket hold option by online booking sites
There are some online booking sites that let you hold a reservation for free. Few examples –
- Yatra.com – Hold for 3 days for free of charge. It’s an India based booking website, but anyone can hold and book international tickets.
- Agent.ru – Hold for the number of days the airline permits. I will write a detailed article on how to use their hold option soon.
7. Ticket hold option for a fee by airlines
Some airlines allow you to hold your ticket for a small fee for a few days. Different airlines have different hold days and different fee. Usually, the fee is $5-20 USD depending on the hold days. Few examples –
- United Farelock – Hold for 3 days for $6.99 USD and 7 days for $8.99 USD.
- Aeroflot Deferred Payment – Hold for 2 days for $17.40 USD.
8. Email price quote or itinerary option from airlines
Some airlines allow you to print an itinerary or email a price quote. These look similar to a reservation which can be used for visa application. Few examples –
- British Airways – Email price quote option.
Works perfectly fine for United Kingdom visa applications. I have used a British Airways price quote email for my UK visa application and it worked perfectly fine. UK is not asking for flight itineraries anymore for their visa applications. If they does for some reason, you can always use this option.
You may not be able to use this option for visas other than UK.
9. 24 hours ticket cancellation option on United, Expedia, Priceline and Orbtiz
A few airlines and online ticket booking websites provide options for free cancellation within 24 hours of booking. These sites allow you cancel a flight ticket within 24 hours of booking. Few examples –
- United – Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
- Expedia – Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
- Priceline – Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
- Orbitz – Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
- Travelocity – Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
Important Note: Certain budget airline tickets, such as Airasia cannot be cancelled even when booked on Expedia/Priceline/Orbitz. You must read the fine print on the checkout page carefully to make sure the ticket is can be cancelled within 24 hours. If you are in doubt, call the booking site (Expedia/Priceline/Orbitz) before purchasing to make sure the ticket can be cancelled within 24 hours.
This is a great option as a proof of onward travel if you are availing visa on arrival. You just have to time it properly so that you are still in the 24 hours period when availing the visa on arrival. You can cancel the ticket right after you finish your visa on arrival formality.
These tickets must be cancelled within 24 hours. After that, you cannot cancel and cannot get a refund. This option may not be useful for visa application that take longer than 24 hours.
10. Using an onward ticket booking agency
There are a few onward ticket booking sites that provide this service for a small fee. They cancel the ticket after 24 hours on your behalf. Few examples –
- Flyonward – They will book tickets and cancel them after 24 hours on your behalf for a fee of $9.99 USD. They also provide 48 hour tickets at a higher price.[UPDATE: As of August 2017, Flyonward is not responding to queries and they might have shutdown their business]
These are great as a proof of onward travel for visa on arrival. You have to time it properly so the ticket is still valid while going through the visa on arrival formality. For a small fee, you will have a legitimate and verifiable flight ticket.
This option may not be useful for visa applications that take longer than 24 hours.
11. Purchasing non-refundable fight ticket
I have done this a few times. I suggest this option only if you are 100% certain that your visa will be approved.
You have the actual ticket. No need to worry if the consulate verifies it’s authenticity. Since you bought it early, it probably was cheaper than purchasing after the visa approval.
In case of visa denial, you will loose the money since the ticket is a non-refundable ticket.
Hotel itinerary for visa application
Hotel itinerary is much easier to obtain than a flight itinerary. These days many hotels and hotel booking sites offer refundable or pay at check-in options.
12. Refundable or pay at check-in option
These options sometime do not even require credit card information. Just make a note of when the booking needs to cancelled. Create a calendar reminder to make sure you cancel these bookings right after your visa approval. Few examples –
No pre-payment is necessary. Just book refundable hotels/hostels and cancel once your visa is approved.
You have to remember the date by which the reservation needs to be canceled. Otherwise, you will be charged for the booking.
Not all “pay at check-in” are refundable. Read the description carefully when making a hotel booking.
13. Pay deposit option
Some booking sites let you hold a reservation by paying a small deposit upfront. Few examples –
- HostelWorld – You pay 20% of the booking as non-refundable deposit. You can cancel the booking after your visa application is approved. You will lose the deposit, but if you pick a cheap dorm room for a few days, 20% deposit will not be that much.
For a small deposit you can book a hostel dorm bed. You can cancel it right after your visa is approved.
20% is still a big amount if booking in cities like Paris where a dorm bed costs about €10.00 per night. You must make sure to remember the date by which the reservation need to be cancelled.
14. Non-refundable hotel/hostel
Book a non-refundable hotel/hostel only if you are 100% certain that your visa application will be approved.
If you are re-applying for a visa that was approved previously with the same documentation, then there is a good chance that your visa application will be approved this time as well.
Even in this case, I do not suggest to book a non-refundable hotel. But if you see a really good hotel deal that you can’t pass up, you can probably consider.