How to get a flight itinerary for your visa without losing money

Cory Mayfield
Updated on
June 1, 2020

Some visa applications require a flight itinerary as part of the supporting documents when applying for a visa. Depending on the country to which you are applying, there are a number of terms used to request this documentation. These include:

A flight or airline ticket is either a paper-printed or an electronic document, that is purchased from the airline or travel agency. This ticket proves that you have reserved a seat on the flight that will take you to and from your destination.

To make things even more confusing, immigration Departments do not recommend purchasing an actual ticket — they just want the itinerary. This is due to the fact that not all visa applications are approved and can result in you loosing money that you have spent on flight tickets. Adding to the pain, airlines and insurance providers don’t consider a visa refusal or delays in the visa processing as a reason for claiming a refund.

To get around this situation, immigration departments recommend that you hold a flight reservation and not actually purchase the flight tickets. If the immigration department wants to see purchased tickets, they will mention this as part of the visa application process.

Here we give you a number of tried and tested ways you can fulfil this requirement as part of your visa application:

1. Purchase a refundable flight ticket

Singapore Airlines website showing the cancellation fee on the booking page

Purchasing a refundable flight ticket is the best and safest option for producing a flight itinerary for your visa, as it is an actual, authentic ticket. However, it often comes at a high price — usually up between 2 - 3 times more expensive than a non-refundable flight ticket. In the event of a refund, most airlines will process refunds within a few days or weeks.

Even though it is a refundable flight ticket, some booking sites and airlines charge a a cancellation fee to cancel the tickets. For example Singapore Airlines charges AU$130 - AU$260 as a cancelation fee.

We recommend purchasing a refundable ticket directly from the airline’s website as this will eliminate the middleman when enquiring about a refund.

2. Use a local travel agent to hold a flight for you

Flight Centre offers the ability for you to hold your flight up to 7 days

Travel agents, such as Flight Centre and HelloWorld can create a flight itinerary for your visa that lasts up to 7 days, while charging a small fee for this service. This is the second best method of presenting a flight itinerary for your visa, as it is authentic and secure. We recommend using this method if you know your visa application will be processed in less than 7 days.

Australian travel agents that can create a flight reservation for you include:

3. Using a flight reservation website for your visa application

Dummy Ticket lets you reserve a 14 day flight itinerary for a small fee

There are a number of online providers who can create a flight itinerary for your visa application that is valid between 14 and 21 days for a small fee. These are great if you need a booking for a longer period of time. However be sure to check the Terms and Conditions to make sure they meet your needs.

Below is a list of online flight reservation providers:

4. Free ‘Hold my fare’ option from the airline website

Emirates Australia 'Hold My Fare' option is available when booking your flight

Several airlines allow you to create a flight reservation on their website for up to 72 hours free of charge. However, this varies from airline to airline, with some only holding for up to 24 hours. Others, like Emirates, allow you to hold it longer that 72 hours but charge you a small fee for holding it longer. You can often find this feature on the checkout of the airline website when booking a flight.

Some airlines that offer this service free of charge include:

5. Using a buy now, pay later option from airline websites

Qantas 'Buy Now, Pay Later' payment option when booking international flights

Some airlines such as Qantas, allows you to create a flight itinerary for your visa that can remain valid up until the departure date for a small fee. Although this option allows you to make a flight reservation for an extend period of time, it doesn’t lock in the price of your flight.

If you know you don't know how long the visa processing time will be, this option is  ideal. This also goes for harder visa applications which require lots of documentation, as you have technically bought the ticket but haven't paid the full price.

6. 24 hour flight cancellation for free

Expedia has a 24 hour cancellation policy that allows your to cancel free of charge

Some airlines and online flight booking website allow you to cancel within 24 hours of booking. This is due to a law in the US, however, it doesn’t apply to everyone.

Before purchasing the flight itinerary for your visa, be sure to check the fine print to make sure your cancellation is free. For example, an AirAsia flight booked on Expedia is not eligible for a 24 hour refund.

Some airlines and flight booking websites that offer 24 hour cancellations free of charge:

BONUS: How to check airline policies

Airline policies change all the time and it can become challenge to keep track of the changes. A great place to check if a particular airline or multiple airlines have a good cancellation policy is the Airline Policy website.

It is always a good idea to double check the airlines policy on the airlines website to make sure it hasn't changed. A quick Google search with the airlines name and the word "cancellation policy" should take you straight to the cancellation policy page of the airline.

Common questions from Aussie travellers

Below are a number of common questions and things you should be aware of when putting together your flight itinerary.

Should I buy a flight ticket before applying for my visa?

We recommend against buying your flight ticket before applying for the visa, unless there is a free cancellation charge. If your visa application is refused, then you will lose the money for your flight ticket. Once your visa is approved, only then should you purchase your flight tickets.

Should I use fake tickets as part of my visa application?

There are a number of fake ticket and flight itinerary generators on the internet. Although they use real flight data and look like real bookings, it is illegal. If you get caught out; you could be fined, prosecuted or even jailed. Visa applications are legal binding documents, to which you are agreeing that all information and documentation in this application is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.

Why do embassies and consulates require a flight tickets?

There are a number of reasons why they require travellers to submit a flight itinerary for their visa application:

Can I use a one-way flight ticket?

Embassies and Consulates don't care about your trip into the country; they care about whether you have a flight ticket out of the country. To put it simply, you are required to submit round-trip flight tickets (tickets showing your arrival and departure) which is shown on the flight itinerary attached to your visa application.

Purchasing a one-way ticket, is a huge red flag for the embassy or consulate as it shows you have no have no intent to leave the country you are travelling too. You flight tickets/itinerary should show both the arrival and departure date for your travels.

What should I do if my reservation gets cancelled before my visa application is approved?

Most consulates and embassies give you an estimated visa processing time to estimate how long you will need to hold your flight for. Be sure to give yourself some room in case it is behind schedule. At OpenVisa, we let our clients know how long they need to hold their flight tickets for, and the options they have available to them.

Based on the visa processing time estimate provided by the embassy or consulate, choose the option that best fits your circumstances. If the flight itinerary for your visa application runs out before the visa is processed, there is a good chance that your visa will be refused.

What does a flight itinerary look like?

Each flight itinerary looks different. An example of a Qantas flight itinerary is as shown: