A guide on providing proof of onward travel
This guide will very briefly touch on the reasons why we have to provide proof of onward travel but is not an opinion piece on the hassles of it all.
It’s meant to be a guide on how to accomplish providing proof, showing 3 legitimate paid websites and a 4th free way to do it yourself.
If you are happy in the knowledge that you need to provide proof of onward travel and want to see how, then please skip ahead using the table of contents to the relevant section.
For those who have some questions about the process, I will answer the more obvious ones without all the fluff and beating around the bush.
Why do we have to provide proof of onward travel?
Long story short here, but it is necessary for governments to know that you are not planning to illegally immigrate to their country.
They can do this by either asking for the proof that you’re leaving the country in the way of a plane ticket, or will sometimes accept a bank statement that shows sufficient funds for the duration of your stay.
As is written in my visa guide of South and Central America, some countries can be relaxed on this, whereas others won’t be, the problem is that you won’t find out until you’re at the customs desk, you might find you have a stickler for the rules.
In Southeast Asia and other regions around the world it is becoming very unlikely that they won’t ask you to provide proof of onward travel.
Who does this apply to?
Anybody who is travelling one way into another country. If you’ve booked a holiday from start to finish then you will not have any dramas as your proof is in your tickets home.
This is only an issue for those who make up their plans as they go, never knowing how long they will be in any given country because they want the freedom to change plans on the fly.
This can also apply to people who require proof of a flight into a country for a visa application.
If you need to prove a flight in for a visa application, you can possibly get away with this method, so long as the validity is long enough to last until the visa is granted
Who is enforcing us to provide proof of onward travel?
Although it is the requirement of the government, it is actually the airlines themselves who will give you grief and ask for you to provide proof of onward travel.
The reasoning is because they don’t want to fly you anywhere that you will be denied entry, because it is then their responsibility to fly you back, which they have no interest in doing.
So long story short, the government requires proof, the airline enforces it. There’s nothing you can do about it at the end of the day so there’s no point stressing, just get it done.
Now on to the part that is actually important.
How to provide proof of onward travel?
The only true and proven way is by having a plane ticket, a real plane ticket that is, not a forgery.
Some people have had success with showing bank accounts with sufficient funds, others by having train or bus tickets, but this is not a given. Unfortunately it can lead to the unwanted situation of you being denied access to your flight and quickly having to buy a ticket and a much higher cost.
Fortunately some legitimate companies have sprung up, jumping on the opportunity to make money of course but they are a godsend nonetheless for one way travellers.
3 Legitimate websites who provide proof of onward travel for a small fee
The following 3 websites I have gathered together to help you getting stung by a scam operation. In my opinion it’s worth sticking to the tried and tested methods, it beats trying to save $3 on some website that is shadier than that beautiful “girl” with the big Adam’s apple you saw in Thailand.
The bookmarks folder on my laptop contains all 3 of the websites I use to provide proof of onward travel.
These guys have the best reviews of the 3 paid websites that I will share here today and they’re my go to choice.
Cost: $12 US
- A well known company with a great track record
- You can have your ticket sent to you at a later date and just pay the $12 in advance (plus a $1 fee for the delayed ticket purchase)
- Tickets valid for a minimum of 48 hours
- Tickets can be extended for up to 20 days
- Tickets are 100% real and verified, so if the airline checks they will see nothing wrong
- Some might prefer one of the options below for having a ticket worth 14 days without needing to be extended, or simply because they prefer the other websites’ operations
This might get confusing for some, with a similar name to the website above, but even if you used the wrong one it wouldn’t matter.
They have very good reviews, although the sample size is very small.
Cost: $12 US
- 100% real tickets, no fakes
- Receive tickets almost instantly
- Tickets are valid for a minimum of 48 hours
- They seem to be lacking a lot of the extra features that are available on the website above, it’s a very basic set up
Last, and probably the least appealing option is Onewayfly.
Their reviews have a few bad ones in there, but this could be disgruntled people who made mistakes, because overall they’re considered good.
Cost: $19 US
- The validity period is 14 days which makes it good for visa applications
- They will let you buy the ticket from them if you don’t wish to cancel (don’t do this though because it won’t be cheap)
- They will let you state what date you want the ticket to be active from (bestonwardticket.com do this as well for cheaper)
- Costs more than the others
- Is slower to deliver than the other two, sometimes taking 12 hours
1 Free method to provide proof of onward travel yourself (with some drawbacks)
So there’s some good and bad here, but we’ll start with the process that you can go through to accomplish what you need, then we’ll discuss the downsides to using this method.
The website interface
- The website front page has the option to filter results by refundable flights.
- This is on Expedia.com only (expedia.com.au has this option too but I’d recommend staying with the US website).
- Use the US website to do this, don’t use your local Expedia website.
- Follow the link above, or scroll to the bottom of the Expedia website and click the American flag under “Global Sites”.
- This WILL NOT WORK IN THE APP, you need to use the website.
- If you have already done a search and missed the option on the home screen, then click the “show options” button shown here.
- After you click “show options” you will see the dropdown as displayed above, then click “refundable flights” and search
- Results will pop up showing the green text Free Cancel w/in 24 hrs.
- Click this flight to go on to the next step if you’re sure that you want to book it.
- See here the confirmation in the next screens that this flight is refundable.
- However also note the important flight information on the right of screen that suggests Garuda International will be applying their own fees.
- Again, come to the traveller information page and you will see further evidence of Expedia telling you that this flight offers free cancellation.
- The image above is the top of the page, then the image below is the same page but at the bottom as you scroll.
How to cancel once you have booked?
Once your information is filled out, you will make your payment and then Expedia will send you an email.
This email should have its own link to cancel the flight!
Don’t ever delete any correspondence with Expedia until you have your money back in your account.
If you lose the email then you can also cancel your trip by using the following method.
- Go to the Expedia website and click the circled option labelled “My Trips” as shown above.
- Scroll down until you find this section and follow the instructions thereafter to cancel your flight.
- The flights can also be cancelled via phone call.
My recommendations to provide proof of onward travel
I think that for most people I would recommend they use Expedia to provide proof of onward travel. Assuming that they’re comfortable enough with the process and having their money possibly tied up for weeks, and aren’t travelling for such a long time that they won’t be able to cancel.
The more frequently that you fly, the more this starts to apply, because if you did this ten times successfully for example, then you’ve saves $120. However if something goes wrong you risk wasting hundreds of dollars!
For those who aren’t catching a lot of flights or don’t want the hassle, then Bestonwardticket.com is the best of the options for paid websites. They get you tickets quickly, they have good customer service and a proven track record!
Downsides to the free method with Expedia
Unfortunately the free method isn’t as good as it might appear at first glance. I will try to break down some possible downfalls here so that you’re aware what you’re getting yourself into.
One thing to note is that the flight that you’re booking should be at least 7 days away for the free cancellation to take effect.
Not releasing money back to customers
There’s a number of growing complaints against Expedia not releasing money as suggested they would.
There’s even those stories of people booking $2,000 flights that were fully refundable and Expedia just flat out refusing to honour the agreement in the hope that people don’t have the will power and tenacity to keep fighting them.
The comments section of this great and detailed post about using Expedia is kind of saddening to see Expedia behaving this way.
Only having 24 hours to cancel
This can make it hard to do if you’re using it for a long haul flight where you may be delayed and not get to a place with wifi in time to cancel.
I have also heard of people being unable to cancel via the email link or the “my trips” section of the website and having to try and call up. This seems so unlikely for a company like Expedia that it almost screams SCAM!
I find it hard to believe their website is failing just as people go to cancel their bookings, it seems to me like they just want to try and catch people out.
This can be difficult to be able to make a phone call if you’re in transit, or trying to find a SIM card once you land to get the internet again.
Airlines still charging their own fees?
This one I am unsure about, as I have never booked with an airline that has stated that it will charge fees out of fear that I’ll lose money.
From my understanding the airlines can either hold your reservation for 24 hours without charging you, or they can make the booking straight away and offer free cancellation within the 24 hour period. However, although some airlines honour this (US airlines have to), others don’t need to.
This confuses me then as to whether the airline is allowed to charge you a fee of their own, separate to the guidelines of Expedia. I think it is very possible, so I don’t want to risk finding out.
I’d love to hear some clarification on this from someone at some stage, I don’t want to be the guinea pig and find out the hard way that the airline will in fact charge their own fees. It is something to watch though. Avoid Garuda airlines and be sure to read all individual airlines policies before booking with them, regardless of what Expedia say.
Who should avoid the free method?
- If you’re unable to have hundreds or thousands of dollars tied up by Expedia as they hold on to it and take their time returning your funds, then avoid them. Note that only the expensive flights are refundable, not the cheap budget airlines, so there will be a bit of money tied up at once
- If you have a long haul flight, with little to no wifi access or ability to make a phone call, then avoid them
- If you think the whole thing isn’t worth the stress and would rather simply pay $12 for another company to sort out your ticket, then go with the stress free option. It is the simplest way to provide proof of onward travel
I hope this has been of some help, if you have had any issues with Expedia or any of these companies please let me know. It’s good to share information for everyone.
Safe travels 🙂