Obtaining a flight itinerary for visa can be the most challenging and confusing aspect of the visa process. Embassies and consulates require confirmed flight tickets, but they do not advise purchasing actual tickets prior to visa approval. Confusing, isn’t it?
Consulates often request one of the following:
- Flight itinerary
- Flight reservation
- Travel itinerary
- Confirmed flight tickets
- Round-trip flight tickets
- Round-trip airline tickets
- Proof of onward travel
- Proof of return ticket
All of these terms essentially mean one thing: A Flight Itinerary.
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What is a flight itinerary for visa?
A flight itinerary for visa is essentially a flight booking made in your name that can be submitted as a flight ticket for your visa application. This can be a fully paid and confirmed flight ticket or a flight reservation held in your name for a specific duration.
A flight reservation must be verifiable online on the airline’s website using a PNR number. The reservation must have details such as your full name, flight dates, flight numbers and airport codes.
Visa applicants sometimes refer to a flight itinerary as a dummy ticket for visa. However, you will not see the word dummy ticket being used in official visa guidelines from the embassies.
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Why do embassies and consulates ask for a flight itinerary?
There are many reasons why embassies or consulates ask for a flight itinerary. They want to see your flight itinerary to determine your visa validity, to understand your travel plans and whether you require visas to other countries en route.
01. To determine your visa validity
The consulate would like to know how long you plan to stay in the country. You will, of course, mention this information in the visa application. But a flight itinerary will confirm this information.
For example, a Schengen visa is issued for the exact amount of days you request in your first application. If your itinerary is for 12 days, you will get the visa for 12 days.
When I applied for my Schengen visa from the Spain consulate, my itinerary was for 21 days. My Schengen visa was issued with a validity of 30 days.
02. To understand your travel plans
A travel itinerary will help visa officers to understand whether you will be traveling directly from your home country or country of residence. Or you will be traveling from a third country. This also helps the visa officers request any additional documents.
For example, if you will be traveling from a third country, the embassy can ask for proof of residence in the third country or a complete round-trip ticket starting and ending in your home country.
For my Malaysia visa, I submitted a flight itinerary for India-Malaysia and Malaysia-Vietnam, assuming that flights into and out of Malaysia would be sufficient. The embassy later asked me to upload complete round-trip tickets starting and ending in India (my home country), including any other countries. They wanted to make sure I was not going to remain in a third country and would return to India.
03. To determine whether you require a visa to third countries
If your travel itinerary includes a third country for which you require a visa, the embassy will ask you to prove that you have a visa to enter the third country. Similarly, if you have a stopover in a third country, the embassy would like to see if you have the proper visa to transit via a third country.
For example, you are traveling from Dubai to France, France to the UK and then back to Dubai. The France embassy will notice that you will be traveling to the UK from France. If you require a visa for the UK, France will contact you asking to provide a copy of your UK visa.
For my Schengen visa from the Spain embassy, my flight was via Mexico. I was planning to attend a friend’s wedding in Mexico before heading to Spain. The Spain consulate asked if I have a visa to enter Mexico. I had to explain to them that I can use my US visa to enter Mexico.
Should You Book Flight Tickets Before Visa Approval?
No. You should not purchase your fight tickets before your visa approval. Embassies and consulates acknowledge that a visa application does not guarantee approval. They recommend submitting a flight reservation and not a fully-paid flight ticket.
If your visa application is denied or delayed, you will lose the money spent on the flight tickets. Airlines and insurance providers do not consider visa refusal as a valid reason for refund claims.
Do not purchase your airline tickets until your visa application is approved. If the embassy requires proof of fully-paid tickets, they will explicitly request them.
How to Get Fight Itinerary for Visa Application?
There are paid and free ways to get a flight itinerary for visa. Some airlines and booking websites offer the option to hold flight reservations for free. However, not all airlines serve every route. You will have to explore different airlines and booking websites to find the option for holding reservations for free.
Alternatively, you can get a flight reservation for visa by paying a nominal fee. Some airlines and third-party agents offer this service for a fee.
Here are 10 proven methods (4 free and 6 paid) to obtain a travel itinerary for visa application.
01. Purchase a Fully Refundable Ticket [Paid option]
Purchasing a refundable ticket is the most reliable and foolproof option for your flight itinerary for visa. This type of ticket leaves no room for questioning its authenticity.
Most airlines offer fully refundable flight tickets but at a higher price. Generally, the cost is 5 to 10 times higher compared to non-refundable or regular-priced flight tickets. Most airlines process refunds relatively quickly, typically within a few days to a few weeks.
However, it’s important to note that even with a refundable ticket, certain booking sites and airlines may charge a cancellation fee. For example, Etihad Airways charges $30 and CheapOair charges $150 on cancellations of fully refundable tickets.
Book fully refundable tickets directly on the airline’s website. Call the airline first to inquire about their cancellation policy on refundable tickets. Ask if they charge an admin fee or tax for cancellations and refunds on fully refundable tickets.
- A refundable ticket is a valid, confirmed and fully-paid ticket. It removes any concerns about the consulate verifying its authenticity.
- The upfront cost of a refundable ticket is significantly higher, usually 5 to 10 times more than a regular ticket.
- Some airlines and booking websites charge an admin fee to cancel fully refundable tickets
- Refunds can take several days to weeks to process, depending on the airline.
- To receive the refund, you must keep the credit card used for the purchase active.
02. Use a Visa Ticket Booking Website [Paid option]
There are several online travel agents offering flight reservations for a nominal fee. These agents can hold a reservation for up to 3 weeks. They also provide express service if you are in a rush.
- Dummy Ticket | Price $19 USD | Booking valid for 2-3 weeks
- Visa Reservation | Price $40 USD | Booking valid for 2 weeks
DummyTicket is one of the oldest agencies in the business of providing flight itineraries for visas. They have a 4.6 rating on Trustpilot. Read my dummyticket.com review for more information.
03. Use a Local Travel Agent to Hold a Flight Reservation [Paid option]
Travel agents have the ability to hold flight reservations. They can hold tickets for up to 7 days without payment.
You can visit any local travel agent in your city and request a flight itinerary for visa. They will typically charge a small fee for this service.
- By paying a nominal fee, you can hold a round-trip flight reservation for a duration of 7 days.
- This option is suitable only if the visa processing timeframe does not exceed 7 days.
04. Use an Onward Ticket Booking Agency [Paid option]
There are onward ticket booking sites that offer flight reservations valid for 48 hours for a nominal fee. These reservations are commonly used as proof of onward travel, but they can also be used for visa purposes.
- Onward Ticket | Price $16 USD | Ticket valid for 48 hours | Instant booking | 5% discount with code VT5
- Best Onward Ticket | Price $12 USD | Ticket valid for 48 hours
OnwardTicket is my go-to option for proof of onward ticket these days. They have a 4.6 rating on Trustpilot. Read my Onward Ticket review for more information.
- These reservations work as proof of onward travel or a return ticket for Visa on Arrival.
- For a small fee, you will have a legitimate and verifiable round-trip flight reservation for your visa.
- This option is not suitable for visa applications with processing times longer than 48 hours.
- For Visa on Arrival, you must time it correctly so the ticket remains valid while obtaining the visa at the airport.
05. Use Paid Ticket Hold Option by Airlines [Paid option]
Some airlines provide the option to hold a confirmed flight reservation for a nominal fee for a specific duration. The fee and duration vary among different airlines. Typically, the fee ranges from $10 to $45 to hold the ticket for approximately 3 days.
Airlines for destinations in Europe
- Aegean Air Hold My Booking | 7-day hold for €6
- TAP Portugal Time to Think | 2-day hold for €8, 5-day hold for €12 and 10-day hold for €15
- British Airways Hold Flight | 3-day hold for $10
- Iberia Pre-booking | 3-day hold for €10
- Wizz Air Fare Lock | 2-day hold for $15
- Air France Time to Think | 3-day hold for $36
- KLM Airlines Time to Think | 3-day hold for $36
- Turkish Airways Hold the Price | 3-day hold for $45 and 7-day hold for $65
Airlines for destinations in North or South America
- United Airlines Farelock | 3-day hold for $5.99, 7-day hold for $8.99 and 14-day hold for $12.99
- Copa Airlines PriceLock | 3-day hold for $8.99 and $7-day hold for $13.99
Airlines for destinations in Asia
- Singapore Airlines Secure My Fare | 3-day hold for $11
- Qatar Airways Hold Flight | 3-day hold for $20
- Emirates Hold My Fare | 3-day hold for $30
Airlines for destinations in Oceania
- Air New Zealand Fare Hold | 3-day hold for $45
- These reservations are verifiable bookings, so they can work as flight itineraries for visa applications.
- For a small fee, you will have a verifiable and confirmed flight reservation for your visa.
- It can be time-consuming to search for airlines that offer ticket hold options for your desired destination.
Note from Thirumal
I’m compiling a list of such airlines, I will publish an article with the list soon. Stay tuned!
06. Purchase a Non-refundable Flight Ticket [Paid option]
Only purchase non-refundable flight tickets if you are one hundred percent confident that your visa will be approved. I have personally booked non-refundable flight tickets on multiple occasions, but it was for a visa that I had applied for and received approval for in the past.
You can use any flight search engine to find the best deals on non-refundable flights, but below are my recommended ones.
Recommend flight search engines:
- Skyscanner | Great search engine to find the cheapest flight tickets
- Momondo | Also a great search engine with great discounts
- A non-refundable flight ticket is a confirmed and fully paid airline ticket. There is no need to worry about the consulate verifying its authenticity.
- If you book a non-refundable ticket in advance, you will get it at a much lower price compared to buying it after visa approval.
- In the event of visa refusal, you will lose the money spent on the non-refundable ticket.
- Airlines, embassies and insurance providers do not consider visa refusal as a valid reason for ticket cancellations and refund claims.
07. Use Free 24-Hour Ticket Cancellation by Airlines and Booking Sites [Free option]
Certain US-based airlines and online ticket booking websites provide options for free cancellation within 24 hours of booking. These sites allow you to cancel a flight ticket 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
- United Airlines | Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
- American Airlines | Free cancellation within 24 hours of booking
It’s important to note that tickets from budget airlines, such as AirAsia, cannot be canceled even when booked through online booking websites. To ensure that a ticket can be canceled for free within 24 hours of booking, review the fine print carefully on the checkout page.
- This option serves as excellent proof of onward travel or a return ticket when obtaining a Visa on Arrival.
It’s important to time it properly so that you are still within the 24-hour period when obtaining the Visa on Arrival. After completing your Visa on Arrival process, you can cancel the ticket for a full refund.
- These tickets must be canceled within 24 hours; otherwise, cancellation and refunds are not possible.
- This option may not be suitable for visa applications with processing times longer than 24 hours.
08. Use Free Ticket Hold Option by Airlines [Free option]
Some airlines provide the option to hold a fare for a certain duration. When booking a ticket, you are given a specific period of time to make the payment. This booking can serve as a printable itinerary for your visa application. Although the booking indicates a specific time frame for payment, it is still acceptable for visa applications.
- Copa Airlines Price Lock | Free hold for 24 hours
- Qatar Airways Hold My Booking | Free hold for 24 hours
- There is no need to keep track of the hold duration. If unpaid within the specified duration, the booking is canceled automatically.
- This option is not suitable for visa applications that take longer than 2 days for processing.
09. Use Award Miles and Hold Option [Free option]
Certain airlines provide the option to hold a flight reservation for up to 5 days when purchasing an award ticket or using airline miles. The held reservation can be used as a printable itinerary for your visa application. Though the reservation indicates a specific time frame for purchase, it is still acceptable for visa applications.
- American Airlines | Free hold for up to 5 days using AAdvantage miles
- Turkish Airways | Free hold for up to 7 days for Miles&Smiles members
- Singapore Airlines | Free hold for up to 7 days
- Cathay Pacific | Free hold for up to 7 days
- This option works perfectly fine for visa applications that take less than a week to process.
- This service is offered free of charge to members of airline award programs.
- To utilize this option, you must have a frequent flyer account and a certain amount of miles.
- Not all airline websites provide the online option to hold award tickets. In such cases, you may need to contact the airline directly and request them to hold your award ticket.
- This option is not useful for visa applications that take longer than 5-7 days for processing.
10. Print non-Verifiable Itineraries from Airline Websites [Free option]
Some airlines allow you to print or email a flight itinerary from their website. These flight itineraries look similar to a reservation that can be used for visa applications.
- Print Trip Summary from Qatar Airways website
- Email a Price Quote from British Airways website (* does not work anymore as this feature has been removed from BA website)
- This option is suitable for visa applications that do not require verifiable itineraries such as the UK visa.
- This option is not applicable for visas that require verifiable itineraries such as Schengen visa.
BONUS: Use a Fake Ticket Generator [Risky option]
There are online tools available for generating fake airline tickets. These tools can create a fake flight itinerary that closely resembles a genuine booking. However, it’s important to note that these bookings are fake and cannot be verified.
Using a fake flight itinerary for visa application is an extremely risky option. Such fake itineraries must be used at your own discretion.
Available fake ticket generators:
- FakeFlightTickets | Price $5 USD | Downloadable fake ticket
- KeyFlight | Free service | Downloadable fake ticket
It is important to understand that submitting a fake flight itinerary for visa application is illegal and against the law. If found, you may face visa refusal or a permanent ban. Please be aware of the potential risks involved when using fake flight itineraries.
- It’s convenient to generate fake flight itineraries whenever needed.
- These tickets are fake, and their usage for visas is illegal.
Embassies and consulates do not recommend purchasing flight tickets before visa approval. Instead, they ask you to submit a flight itinerary for visa application.
A flight itinerary is essentially a flight booking made in your name. Such a flight reservation must be verifiable online on the airline’s website using a PNR number.
Though many countries are doing away with flight itineraries for visa applications, it is still a common practice for embassies to ask for them. There are many ways to obtain a confirmed flight itinerary for visa, but not all options are free. Some options require a nominal fee or claiming a refund.