The number of documents that an embassy or consulate asks the visa applicants to submit in order to receive a visa, are confusing for many people. Especially when the applicant cannot quite understand what he or she is precisely asked to submit, the type of the document, where he or she should obtain it, and what to do in order to receive it.
What is the Flight Itinerary?
Amongst the documents that the embassy or consulate of your travel destination country in your home country may ask you for is a flight itinerary. Depending on the embassy, this document might be referred to by different names as:
- Flight itinerary
- Booked / Confirmed Flight Itinerary
- Air Ticket Booking
- Flight Reservation
- Flight Confirmation
- Flight tickets
- Dummy Air Ticket for Visa
- Dummy Ticket
- Confirmed flight tickets
- Round trip flight tickets
- Proof of onward travel
For many this might look complicated or even confusing. However, all the above mentioned mean one same thing:
The Flight Itinerary is a detailed flight plan to and from the destination country you want to get a visa to go to.
This simple document contains:
- Your name,
- A flight name,
- A valid flight reservation number or booking ID,
- Arrival date,
- Departure date,
- Airport IATA codes,
- The price of a real Flight Ticket, and
- Details of any connecting flights, (applicable only if you are planning to visit more than one country with the same visa).
This does not mean you will have to purchase actual flight tickets before you receive your visa. Also, one does not need to pay for a flight itinerary, aside of a minimal service or processing charges to your travel agency.
Most of the embassies in the world do not obligate visa applicants to book a flight, because they are aware that in case of visa rejection, then it will be inevitable for the applicant to lose his or her money. They even indicate in the list of required documents, that applicants are not obligated to buy the tickets but rather only the flight reservation.
After you get your visa, you may just purchase the ticket you have reserved or cancel it and buy others in more convenient dates, within the time of your visa validity.
However, there might be exceptions where embassies or consulates in specific cases will ask you to actually purchase a round trip flight ticket.
Why do Embassies and Consulates Ask for it?
Not every foreign mission in your country will ask you for a Flight Itinerary but many will. Though it might seem as meaningless to some, there are some very good reasons why the embassies require it.
As a proof that you will not be overstaying
The core reason why the embassy or the consulate of your travel destination country asks you for proof of a book reservation is that they want to make sure you will not overstay your visa, and will get back to your home country before it expires. Since the Flight Itinerary shows the departure and arrival to your home country, this is a convincing document that you will return. This means you have to book a round trip flight reservation, because otherwise your reservation would be meaningless.
However, this does not assure you that the embassy or consulate will issue you a visa. You will have other documents to submit alongside the Flight Itinerary, so you will have to be careful with them too.
Deciding the length of the visa
Another reason is to decide the length of your visa. The officials at the embassy or consulate where you are applying at will decide on the length of your visa based on the Itinerary Flight, so that you can get granted with a visa that allows you to stay at your destination country for as long as you need to, and not for a shorter period.
Deciding at what embassy you should apply
They also want to make sure you are applying at the right embassy, in case you are planning to visit more than two countries. For instance, if you are applying for a 10 day visa, with which you plan to stay 7 days in France and 3 days in Germany, then you must apply at the French Embassy in your home country. But in case you are planning to spend 5 days in France and 5 others in Germany, then you will have to apply at the embassy of the country where you are planning to land first.
How to Get the Flight Itinerary for any Visa Application
You can get e flight itinerary in different ways. One of them is getting refundable flight tickets, or just purchase a flight reservation which is way cheaper. The thing is that most flight reservations only last 24 hours, whereas a visa application confirmation might take up to fifteen days. Therefore, you should try to find a way how to hold the booked flight reservation for longer. You can do it in different ways depending on your choice. Keep in mind that you should always book a round-trip flight reservation.
Refundable flight ticket
If you have decided to purchase a ticket, or the embassy (or consulate) has obligated you to actually buy one, this is the safest way to get your money back in case your visa application gets rejected. Most airlines offer valid tickets which are fully refundable, but the thing is that they are way more expensive than the normal tickets. Their price is not just twice bigger than a normal, but five to ten times more expensive.
They might also charge you with a fee if you wish to cancel the flight and get your money back. Depending on the airline, the refunding will take from a few days to a few weeks. However, if you wish to book a ticket of this type, then you should do it directly from the airline’s website.
Local travel agent
Even though the local travel agents will charge you with a fee for their service, this is a very good option since they are capable of holding a ticket for seven days or even more. They usually charge you with 10% of the fixed ticket price, though it is not fixed.
Visa ticket booking websites
You can also get a flight reservation through booking websites, which can hold your tickets for up to seven days, or sometimes even more, depending on the website. You will have to pay for these, usually from 15 to 25 euros.
Ticket hold option for a fee by airlines
Not all airlines offer flight reservation booking, so one should do quite a research in order to find the right airline that offers such services. There are some airlines that will hold your tickets for a small fee from 5 to 20 dollars. The length of the time they will hold the ticket depends on the airline, but most of them can hold your ticket for around 3 days.
Free ticket hold option by airlines or flight booking websites
Some airlines will hold your reservation for up to 48 hours. Find the ticket and call the airline to confirm if they hold the reservation for more than 24 hours. On the other hand, some flight booking agencies also offer to hold your ticket for up to three days for free. These are harder to find but with a little bit more of a research you can succeed.
If you are planning to visit Europe with a group of people, whether it is friends or family, then you can book Group Flight Tickets, which often are shown in a single document. Make sure your name and reservation number of the booking ID are included in this document when you submit it for a visa.
One Way Flight Ticket Reservation
Keep in mind that your ticket must be a round trip one. The main reason embassies ask for a flight reservation is to make sure that you will not overstay your visa, and booking a one flight ticket reservation does not prove the point that you will not overstay your visa.
Something very important when you hand over your documents is that your flight itinerary should be plausible. It must be consistent with your travel dates and your activities must be arranged in a way that makes your plans credible, because if not it will affect your visa application.
There exist many websites that can provide you with fake flight reservations, which are done with photoshop and look exactly like real. They cost very little, but it is strongly suggested not to use those. In case the embassy or consulate you are applying at finds out that the flight reservation you have submitted as purchased is fake, this will be used against you. Not only you will have your visa application rejected but this might affect the rejection of other visa application of yours for a visa to that country in the future.