Foreign travel is a big deal for most people around the world. It is not something that you do often and with the number of formalities that are associated with foreign travel makes the entire process seem quite daunting, especially for a newbie. Whenever you plan a foreign trip, there are a number of documents that you need to furnish for the embassy of the country you plan to visit in order to get a visa to that country. These documents may be referred to by different names and this can get confusing for quite a lot of people. The basic documents that most embassies require you to attach with your Visa application include:
- Passport: Original Passport with a minimum of six months validity on the date when the Visa application is to be submitted.
- Colour Photograph: You would also be required to submit a recent colour photograph of standard Passport Size.
- Proof of Profession: In case of an employee, a certificate of employment from the employer and in case the person is a student, then a copy of the student’s ID card.
- Proof of Financial Stability: This is proof of financial solvency depicting that the individual travelling to a foreign country is capable of covering the cost of travel, stay and return. This would include your bank statements and proof of other assets, etc.
But there is one more document that a lot of embassies require you to possess. This document happens to be a detailed documented description of your flight plans to the destination country and back. This document is called Flight Itinerary or Round-Trip Reservation. Let’s understand why this is a requirement and how you can book these tickets.
Flight Itinerary and Its Purpose
A flight Itinerary is a document that contains details of your flight plans and flight routes to the particular country that you intend to visit. It contains all the details of the actual flight such as the time, name of the flight, traveller’s name, booking ID, dates of arrival and departure to and from the intended country, International Air Transport Association (IATA) code (which is an airport identifier code assigned to all airports), as well as the price of the actual ticket. This is a great alternative to buying an actual flight ticket and risking your money, in case your visa is denied. A flight itinerary may also be referred to as a flight Reservation and it is referred to by many other names, such as:
- Booked Flight Itinerary
- Flight Itinerary for Visa Application
- Air Ticket Booking
- Dummy Ticket
- Dummy Air Ticket for Visa
- Flight Reservation
- Flight Confirmation
Because these flight tickets are referred by so many different names, it is natural for people to get confused. The aim of the embassy, while asking for these reservations, is to confirm if the individual travelling to their country has a definite place and resources to stay during their visit, and to confirm that they will be returning to their country of origin. The embassy accomplishes this objective by asking you for your Proof of Accommodation, which ultimately proves that you indeed have a place to stay during the course of your visit, an invitation to stay in the country from the host and the Flight Itinerary, which would include the details of your travel plans including your Round-Trip Flight Details.
Purpose of Flight Itinerary
There have been a lot of problems lately of illegal immigration and foreign nationals overstaying their Visas. This has forced countries to make their Visa processes more stringent so that they can avoid such situations in the future. Flight Itinerary is a tool that aids to keep a check on this. The easiest way for embassies to confirm travel plans would be to ask potential travellers to book flights directly and show the tickets. But embassies and consulates understand that Visa rejection is a harsh reality which may happen for various reasons and as such the ticket bought would be rendered useless, which can cause a monetary loss for people. Therefore, a majority of embassies in the world do not require visa applicants to purchase flight tickets. Instead, they require a visa applicant to get a flight itinerary.
Why Round-trip reservation?
Once your Visa application is approved, you can go ahead and purchase the tickets that you have booked or cancel them for rebooking for more convenient dates, ensuring the dates fall within your Visa validity timeframe. However, there are exceptions to these conditions, and you may be required to purchase actual round-trip tickets for getting Visa approval from certain embassies. Here is why:
It serves as a proof that you will not be extending your stay.
The most prominent reason why the embassy or the consulate of your destination country will ask you to get a flight itinerary or a round-trip reservation proof is to ensure that you will not be violating your visa duration. This purpose is served with a round-trip reservation or a two-way flight itinerary. A flight itinerary contains details of the dates of your departure and the date of your subsequent arrival from and to your home country. This indicates that you do indeed intend to return to your homeland within the timeframe of the visa. What needs to be noted however is that getting a flight itinerary does not necessarily guarantee you getting a Visa approval to your destination. It also largely depends on the visa interview as well the submission of other required documents, as indicated in the Visa application.
It helps Embassies in Deciding the Correct Embassy that you need to apply to
This scenario plays out in case you intend to visit multiple countries which have a treaty which requires no passport and checkpoints for crossing borders with one another, for example, the countries that fall under the Schengen Agreement. The signing of this treaty allowed for the creation of the Schengen area in Europe allowing for a freer commute between neighbouring countries. Under such circumstances, the consulate office analyses your flight itinerary and evaluates if it is the correct embassy to apply for the Visa or you need to apply from another country’s embassy. For instance, in case you plan to visit multiple countries and your maximum stay is going to be in one country, then you should be applying to the embassy of that country, instead of applying to the embassy of the country where you intend to keep your stay comparatively shorter than the other.
Ascertaining the Visa Length or Duration
What is going to be the duration of the Visa? This question is also answered for the embassy officers by going through your flight itinerary. It helps the consulate authorities in deciding the duration of your visa so that you may be able to fulfil the purpose for which you require to visit their country. Therefore, the flight itinerary serves multiple purposes and can be quite helpful for travellers as well as consulates.
How can you get a Flight Itinerary?
The procedure for getting a flight itinerary is quite simple. However, what needs to be kept in mind is that a confirmed flight itinerary and a confirmed round trip reservation may be chargeable, depending upon the airline you choose.
Some airlines do offer to do your flight itinerary bookings for free, with you having to pay for the flight ticket once your Visa is cleared. However, most airlines do not offer such conveniences and as such you might be required to purchase your flight itinerary after paying a small amount of money, which serves as a booking amount for when you do buy the actual ticket, once the visa application is accepted.
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Therefore, it is advisable to search online across various websites for different airlines for dummy tickets or flight itinerary services so that you are able to find the best deal for yourself. Alternatively, you could make use of the services of various booking agents or consultants who are experienced professionals and it would be quite easy for them to get you the best deals on a flight itinerary and a round-trip reservation.
But whichever way you go, you will have to do either of the following:
- You can opt for reserving a flight ticket, which is the cheaper option.
- You can purchase a refundable ticket.
Either way, you will be able to get a confirmed flight itinerary, which you can use as proof along with your other visa application documents. In case of buying a refundable ticket, there is a larger sum of money that you will have to pay up front, but the ticket is confirmed, and you will not have to face any hassles once your visa is approved. And in case your application is rejected, you will be required to pay a small cancellation fee that is charged for cancelling your ticket. You can also reserve a flight ticket, which is a cheaper option as compared to buying a refundable ticket. However, in most cases the reservation only lasts 72 hours and as such your reservation may be cancelled if you are not able to confirm your booking within the stipulated timeframe. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for you to consider all these minute details before you go ahead with your decision as it may lead to a monetary loss in case of Visa rejection or you may find yourself in the stressful situation of finding a suitable flight in case your Visa is accepted but your flight reservation expires.
So essentially, based on the two different methods, you have the following options for getting a confirmed flight itinerary.
- Refundable Ticket Purchase: This can take place under two circumstances. First is when the consulate of the country that you intend to visit requires you to purchase a flight ticket, or secondly if you are interested in just purchasing the ticket for convenience. By exercising this option, you can ensure that you will not suffer any loses in case of visa rejection. However, these tickets are usually more expensive as compared to normal tickets and there might be a cancellation fee attached to these tickets.
- Reserving a Flight Ticket with a Travel Website or Local Travel Agent: It is quite easy to do your travel reservations over the internet. There are a number of websites that offer flight ticket reservation options. You can check these websites and get the best deal for yourself. Alternatively, you can contact your local travel agent and get a flight ticket reservation for yourself. These intermediaries can hold the ticket reservation for you for approximately 10 days, after charging you a minimal fee. This method requires you to put in a lot of research yourself so that you are able to get the best option.
- Using the Hold Option to Reserve a Flight Ticket on the Airline Website: Certain airlines allow the option of holding the flight ticket reservations for 3-4 days for a small fee. But to avail this option, you may have to search quite extensively.
Through these options, you can procure a flight itinerary and complete all the necessary Visa application requirements with ease, without having to worry about the risk of losing your money in case your Visa application is rejected.
One thing, you must be aware of is that there are high chances of your air ticket getting cancelled even before you know about your visa status. This happens because the visa application takes about 2 weeks for processing while the booking is valid for a week only. So, when you are making a booking, always go with a travel agent who can offer a valid booking for 2 week’s time. You will find a few sites too who offer such flexible booking options. Another piece of advice, never go for fake or dummy flight reservation because if it is detected, the authorities might not issue a visa in future as well.
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