How many times have you checked in on your one-way flight and been denied boarding as you have no proof of onward travel? It hasn’t happened often to me, but when it does, it has a major PIA factor.
Some countries do require a proof of onward travel ticket to board a plane landing there. You need to prove that you will be leaving the country. Most often, my planned method of departure was to be overland – and those tickets were difficult to purchase. I don’t travel that way anyway – I don’t necessarily know what I will be doing tomorrow, no less what I will be doing in 3 weeks.
Most often, the ticket agent sticks to their guns – and you have to purchase an onward travel ticket you have no plans on ever using. Promises on easy refunds abound. As you could have predicted, obtaining a refund for your fully refundable onward ticket was not exactly as straightforward as the ticket man had promised. It has never worked out very well for me. Ensure that you buy the cheapest onward flight possible.
If you spend a lot of time reading up on the visa/entry requirements for countries around the world, you’ll realize that a high percentage of countries do require visitors to have an onward ticket in order to be granted entry. However, this is a rule that I have never seen enforced by immigration officials – and proof of onward travel seems to depend entirely on the whim of the air line or maybe that particular ticket agent. It always seems arbitrary when it happens to me. I never buy return flights anymore.
So it definitely does happen and unfortunately, there is often no way to know ahead of time if the rule is going to be enforced. And this is a problem for any traveler whose travel plans are open-ended or mostly overland, and therefore doesn’t involve any onward flights.
In order to avoid a similar situation, be prepared. But that doesn’t mean that I’m purchasing onward tickets all of the time. Instead, before I fly anywhere, I actually ‘create’ my onward tickets these days.
While some might think this is a bit ‘questionable’ of a trick, it is a workaround that saves me a great deal of hassle by eliminating the fear involved with hearing those dreaded words – ‘where’s your onward ticket?’ Here’s what to do:
1. On your computer, open an old Travelocity.com (or similar) flight confirmation that you may have and copy and paste the contents into a Microsoft Word document.
2. Search online for an actual onward flight from the country you’ll be visiting. (For example, if traveling to Brazil, look for flights from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, Argentina on a date before your Brazilian visa expires.)
3. Write down all of the flight information for one of the suitable flights, including the flight #, dates/times, duration, total miles of the itinerary, airline and type of aircraft.
4. In the Word document, replace the old flight details with the new details you’ve just written down and update any other dates found on the confirmation.
5. In the “Cost and Billing Summary” section on the Word document, change the price details to match the actual cost of the flight you found during your online search.
6. Convert the Word document into a PDF file (for a cleaner look) and print out a few copies.
*Alternatively, you could just sign in to Expedia or Travelocity, search for a flight and proceed all the way up until the ‘purchase’ stage. Then print out the final itinerary that displays on the screen and use that as your confirmation. I prefer the above method as it uses an actual paid confirmation format.
And then, when an airline check-in staff, or even an immigration officer, asks for proof of your onward ticket, simply hand over your confirmation and you’ll quickly be on your way.
Well, can I really guarantee the success of this trick? Nope. So you’ll have to use it at your own risk. However, it’s worked for me each and every time, although the number of occasions that I’ve actually needed to show this proof is tiny compared to the number of countries I’ve entered on a one-way ticket. You just never know.