18/07/2024

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5 Ways to Get Flight Reservation for Visa Applications (FREE & Paid)

15 min read
5 Ways to Get Flight Reservation for Visa Applications (FREE & Paid)

Getting through visa applications can be a bit tricky, especially when your passport isn’t exactly a world traveler’s dream — in fact, if you own a weak third world passport like me, I’m sure you know the struggle! (Flight Reservation for Visa Applications)

But don’t stress! Getting a flight reservation or a dummy ticket is actually pretty simple. In this guide, I’m breaking down five (5) easy methods – some would cost you a bit, but others are totally FREE – to help you breeze through any visa process with this type of requirement.

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What is a Flight Reservation?

A flight reservation is essentially a document outlining the details of your planned travel or flight itinerary to a specific country.

Now it helps to note that consolates or embassies might use various titles or phrases to refer to a ‘flight reservation’, thus potentially causing confusion to just about anyone. Some of those phrases are as follows:

  • Confirmed roundtrip flight rickets
  • Flight itinerary plan
  • Travel itinerary
  • Proof of onward travel
  • Proof of return tickets

These can be quite puzzling because terms like ‘confirmed‘ and ‘reserved‘ don’t usually mean the exact same thing, right? But to clear it once and for all, these all essentially mean one thing: a flight reservation.

Moreover, embassies do NOT advise you to fully pay or confirm a flight ticket for your visa because if they deny your application or if their approved travel period for you does not align with your confirmed flight, then they are definitely NOT going to cover your costs.

“Do proof of onward travel and flight reservation mean the same thing?”

Yes, “proof of onward travel” and “flight reservation” essentially refer to the same concept. Both involve demonstrating that you have a planned and confirmed departure from the destination country.

If any distinction exists, it’s that the former is commonly requested during immigration processes, while the latter is typically a requirement for visa applications.

READ MORE HERE: How to Get Proof of Onward Travel

“Why do embassies or consulates require a flight reservation for visa applications?”

Embassies and consulates typically request a flight itinerary or reservation for a visa application process to verify your intentions.

They aim to determine the validity of your visa, comprehend your travel plans, and assess whether you might also require visas for other countries en route. It will also help verify your intentions, confirm your travel plans and accommodation arrangements, as well as aid in cross-verifying information provided in your application, ultimately ensuring a thorough evaluation of your visa application.

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What does a Flight Reservation look like?

A legitimate flight reservation must indicate:

  • Your full name
  • Your flight dates
  • Your flight number(s) & airport codes
  • PNR (Passenger Name Record) number

A Passenger Name Record (PNR) is a record in the database of a computer reservation system (CRS) or airline hosting system consisting of 6 numbers and letters. It contains information about a passenger’s itinerary for a specific journey, including details such as flight segments, seat assignments, and other relevant information. Thus, embassies or consulates usually use this to validate your flight reservation — in fact, you can also check it yourself!

“Is the PNR number the same as an e-ticket number?”

Not at all; an e-ticket number (also often referred to as a booking reference number, flight confirmation number, or flight ticket number) is a unique identifier used by airlines to identify COMPLETED or fully-paid flight tickets — which is NOT what you need to submit when applying for visas…. unless of course, an embassy specifically asks for it, BUT this is rarely asked for.

“How can I check the flight reservation using its PNR code?”

Much like checking a fully confirmed or purchased airline ticket, the process is straightforward! Simply navigate to the official online website of the airline where your flight reservation is made, locate the “Manage Booking,” “My Trips,” or a comparable section, and then enter your PNR number along with your last name or other necessary details.

Within seconds, you’ll access and view your itinerary seamlessly!

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How to Get a Flight Reservation?

Frequently referred to as a dummy ticket, obtaining a flight reservation is a breeze! I’ve outlined the top five methods, covering the optimal choice, as well as both FREE and paid alternatives.

#1. (BEST / Paid) Ticket Booking Service

Many websites provide the option to ‘rent’ a plane ticket that can be valid for about 48 hours in exchange for a fee. These reservations are commonly used as proof of onward travel, but they can also serve as flight reservations for visa purposes.

My go-to platform for this is OneWayFly, which I’ve consistently relied on for various visa applications, including Schengen visas in the past.

PROS

  • Easy, convenient, & hassle-free: Booking your flight itinerary is super straightforward and everything can be done online. It’s also automatically cancelled so you don’t need to do anything afterwards. (Feel free to check out the simple guide I’ve shown below by clicking the ‘+’ toggle to expand the section)
  • Affordable: The basic service only costs $16!
  • Fast processing: You can get your flight reservation immediately (if you have specific requests, such as a preferred airline or flight number, the processing time can be as quick as 8 hours.)
  • Scheduled receipt: With its 48-hour validity, you have the flexibility to receive your flight reservation a day before your visa application appointment.
  • Legitimate and reliable: Their service works for any nationality and they have a 4.8 rating on TrustPilot!

CONS

  • 48-hour validity: OneWayFly retains your flight reservation for 2 days, but as long as it’s valid on your visa application date, there’s no issue. If it expires, OneWayFly can even swiftly recreate it. Rest assured, the embassy won’t reject your visa if the reservation expires; they’ll just request a resubmission of the flight reservation. Personally, I’ve never had problems with this!

⚠️ Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Book a Flight Reservation on OneWayFly

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#2 (Paid) Travel Agent/Agency Service

If you’re not aware, your nearby travel agents or travel agencies can absolutely handle booking a flight reservation for you! They’re usually well-versed in the details of travel and can help you out with this matter.

However, it’s worth noting that the fee they charge for this service typically starts at $20 or more. On the bright side, they often offer flight reservations that remain valid for 7 days (although many also provide options for shorter durations, such as a day or two, similar to OneWayFly).

PROS

  • Long validity: Some tour agents or agencies can often hold a flight reservation for 24 hours up to 7 days.

CONS

  • Limited flexibility: Some tour agency bookings may have less flexibility in terms of changing dates, flights, or other components of your flight reservation.
  • Communication & time challenges: Given the fact that you’ll likely have to deal with them in person, it can cause delays in time or cause miscommunication.
  • Relatively more expensive: Costing about $20 and more, their service is often more expensive than online ticket booking services like OneWayFly.

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#3 (Paid & FREE) 24H Ticket Cancellation Or Hold Option Service

• • • (FREE) 24-HOUR TICKET CANCELLATION
Great news! Some ticket booking platforms and US airlines offer the benefit of free flight cancellation within 24 hours of booking. However, it’s important to be aware that if you present this type of proof to the embassy or consulate, it can only be verified within a day. As a result, it is only most effective as proof of onward travel OR as evidence of a return ticket when obtaining a visa on arrival at your destination. Additionally, it’s crucial to remember to cancel the reservation within the specified 24-hour window, or you won’t be eligible for a refund.

For this kind of service, the following websites can be used:

  • AeroMexico (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • Alaska Airlines (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • American Airlines (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • British Airways (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • Delta Airways (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • Expedia* (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • Hawaiian Airlines (FREE cancellation within 24 hours, if booking at least 1 week before departure)
  • KLM (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • KoreanAir (FREE cancellation within 24 hours, if booking at least 1 week before departure)
  • Orbitz* (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • Priceline* (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • Travelocity* (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • United Airlines (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)
  • WestJet (FREE cancellation within 24 hours)

PRO TIP: Exercise caution when booking with platforms marked with an asterisk (*) above, as while they provide a 24-hour cancellation service, certain budget airlines, such as AirAsia, may not be included in this scheme. Therefore, it is crucial to meticulously review the fine print on the checkout page to ensure you are well-informed about the cancellation policies applicable to your specific booking.

PROS

  • Refund eligibility: If you cancel within the 24-hour window, you are generally eligible for a full refund or the avoidance of charges.

CONS

  • Limited duration and options: As you can see, not all airlines provide this service. Plus, since it’s only valid for 24 hours, it’s often only useful for visa-on-arrival applications or as proof of onward travel.
  • Time-sensitive: You must remember to cancel this ticket within 24 hours, or else, you’ll have to pay for it in full.

• • • (FREE + PAID) HOLD OPTION
Did you know? There is a “hold” option for flights and it’s often provided by some airlines or booking platforms that allow you to reserve a flight itinerary temporarily without completing the actual purchase. When you choose this option, the airline or platform sets aside the selected flight itinerary for a specified period, usually ranging from a few hours to a few days and this can serve as proof of a flight reservation for visa applications.

For this particular service, it can either be provided for FREE or for a fee:

PROS

  • Authentic & verifiable: These can serve as proof of flight reservation for visa applications.

CONS

  • Relatively more expensive: Often costing about $25 and more, this kind of hold service is often more expensive than online ticket booking services like OneWayFly (about $16~ only).
  • Limited options: Searching through all these websites to find flights that suit your itinerary can be a time-consuming process.

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#4 (FREE) Book with Airline Miles, Hold Awards, or Credit Card Points

Are you a member of any frequent flyer programs? Well, guess what — some airlines can offer you the opportunity to reserve a flight for a period of up to 5 days by simply using your airline points, miles, or hold award program.

Once you avail of this, your reserved booking can serve as a printable itinerary to meet the requirements of your visa application. As of now, the frequent flyer programs that offer this service include the following:

PROS

  • Cost-saving & free: Using frequent flyer miles often allows you to book flights without spending actual money, resulting in significant cost savings.

CONS

  • Frequent flyer status: Naturally, to use this option, you often need to be a long-time member and accumulate a certain number of miles or points.
  • Complex program rules: Each frequent flyer program has its own set of rules and restrictions, making it necessary to navigate and understand the specific terms and conditions.
  • Limited: There aren’t a lot of airlines that offer this kind of option and you will have to check with yours to see if they can do this.

As for when I mentioned credit card points, some credit card providers with associated rewards programs actually offer the possibility of booking refundable tickets using your accumulated points. It’s a viable option, but be sure to contact your provider to confirm if this service is available to you.

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#5 (Paid) Book a Flight Ticket in Full

Securing a flight reservation for visa applications might lead you to consider the most foolproof option: simply booking a fully paid flight ticket (you can do this visa SkyScanner for example). While it ensures authenticity for your visa application, it’s also the riskiest — denied visas could pose significant issues and the embassy won’t refund you for your troubles.

PRO TIP: Perhaps you actually have a budget-friendly flight path for your visa application, in which it can be offered by airlines like RyanAir or AirAsia. If that’s the case, booking directly is an option with costs ranging from $20 to $100. However, this isn’t usually the case; additionally, with OneWayFly‘s affordable cost of only $16, opting for their service proves more sensible, right?

Alternatively, you may think, “I’ll just buy a fully refundable ticket!”

Indeed, you can do this, BUT this option comes with a higher price tag, often 5 to 10 times more than regular or non-refundable tickets.

Now, if you still opt for this route (not my top recommendation unless you’re absolutely certain about what you’re doing), please ALWAYS make sure to read the fine print. Refund processing times vary — some airlines are swift, while others may take days, weeks, or even months! Additionally, be aware of potential additional cancellation fees. So, please always exercise caution and ensure you’re well-informed before making a decision.

PROS

  • Full compliance: You’re demonstrating to the embassy that you possess the financial capability and confidence in your travel plans.

CONS

  • Highly risky: If your visa is denied, you’ll have to shoulder the costs on your own and you might even need to purchase another ticket for a separate trip or reapplication. Even embassies do NOT recommend this option.
  • Higher cost: Fully refundable tickets are typically more expensive than regular or non-refundable options, often costing 5 to 10 times more.
  • Refund processing time: While some airlines may issue refunds promptly, others might take days, weeks, or even months. This delay can be inconvenient if you need to reapply for a visa or make alternative travel arrangements.
  • Cancellation fees: Some airlines may charge additional cancellation fees, reducing the amount you receive upon refund.
  • Limited availability: Not all flights offer fully refundable options, limiting your choices in terms of airlines, routes, and schedules.

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FAQ

Do proof of onward travel and flight reservation mean the same thing?

Yes, “proof of onward travel” and “flight reservation” essentially refer to the same concept. Both involve demonstrating that you have a planned and confirmed departure from the destination country. If any distinction exists, it’s that the former is commonly requested during immigration processes, while the latter is typically a requirement for visa applications.

Why do embassies or consulates require a flight reservation for visa applications?

Embassies and consulates typically request a flight itinerary or reservation for a visa application process to verify your intentions. They aim to determine the validity of your visa, comprehend your travel plans, and assess whether you might also require visas for other countries en route. It will also help verify your intentions, confirm your travel plans and accommodation arrangements, as well as aid in cross-verifying information provided in your application, ultimately ensuring a thorough evaluation of your visa application.

How much does a flight reservation cost?

Typically, a flight reservation may cost around $25 and up. However, OneWayFly offers a more budget-friendly option at just $16. The total fee is paid upfront, with complete transparency—no hidden charges or additional payments later. Prices include: standard one-way ticket reservation (valid for 48 hours) for $16, round-trip flight reservation (valid for 48 hours) for $30, hotel reservation for $20, with optional add-ons available: request to delay the reservation for $2 and special requests for $6.

When should you book your flight reservation or proof of onward travel?

For a more secure reservation, it’s advisable to book one or two days in advance. This minimizes the risk of flight cancellations or rescheduling. If this isn’t feasible, consider receiving your ticket closer to your visa application date. Service providers like OneWayFly offer this flexibility.

After getting a flight reservation, how do I cancel it when I no longer need it?

Unless explicitly specified by the airline or booking platform, there’s usually nothing else that you need to do after acquiring the service. For example, service providers like OneWayFly automatically cancels your reservation once its validity expires. So yes, no refund application or further action is required from your end.

Is the PNR number the same as an e-ticket number?

Not at all; an e-ticket number (also often referred to as a booking reference number, flight confirmation number, or flight ticket number) is a unique identifier used by airlines to identify COMPLETED or fully-paid flight tickets — which is NOT what you need to submit when applying for visas…. unless of course, an embassy specifically asks for it, BUT this is rarely asked for.

How can I check the flight reservation using its PNR code?

Much like checking a fully confirmed or purchased airline ticket, the process is straightforward! Simply navigate to the official online website of the airline where your flight reservation is made, locate the “Manage Booking,” “My Trips,” or a comparable section, and then enter your PNR number along with your last name or other necessary details. Within seconds, you’ll access and view your itinerary seamlessly!

Can I just forge or fake a flight reservation? It looks easy!

I highly advise you NOT to do this. Providing false information, especially for official purposes like visa applications, is against the law and can lead to serious consequences, including visa rejection, legal action, and travel bans. That being said, it is essential to maintain honesty and integrity in all aspects of travel planning and document submission. So if you require a flight reservation, consider using legitimate services or actions such as those that I have listed in this article.

Can’t I just book in full a flight ticket even before my visa is approved?

Sure you can, but this is highly risky. If your visa is denied or if the granted validity period doesn’t align with your booked flight ticket, you risk losing money, and the embassy won’t provide a refund for the flight ticket.

Can I reserve a flight without paying?

Yes you can. There are limited options available through airlines or booking platforms that allow you to reserve a flight for FREE. Please refer to this article for those options as I have listed them in detail.

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Overall

I hope this list of the 5 best options to book a flight itinerary or reservation for a visa application will help you save time, money, and effort — much like how it helped me!

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