Proof of Onward Travel – a Story and a Solution

Proof of Onward Travel – a Story and a Solution

By |2018-09-11T09:22:13-04:00June 3rd, 2010|Travel Tips & Advice|235 Comments

Proof of Onward Travel

You’ve just spent two months traveling around Australia and now you’re about to spend another two months in Southeast Asia. And while you enjoyed every single minute of your stay in Oz, you’re ready to explore the intriguing cultures of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

You arrive at Melbourne’s International airport 2 hours prior to your direct flight to Kuala Lumpur and you quickly join the long check-in line at Malaysia Airlines. Thirty minutes pass until you are the ‘next one in line’ and you then eagerly hand over your passport and ticket confirmation number to the airline agent.

She types away on her keyboard, asks if you have any luggage, checks to make sure you packed that luggage yourself and then goes back to typing away on her keyboard again. At that point, clear visions of the Malaysian jungle slowly begin to materialize in your head and you smile widely, unable to hide the thrill of traveling to unexplored lands.

And you remain in that blissful trance, right up until the moment you hear the airline agent say…
Can I please see your proof of onward travel?

You now stand there confused, unaware of what she is trying to ask you. You hear the question repeated and yet you still cannot grasp it’s meaning.

“In order to enter Malaysia, you must provide proof of onward travel out of Malaysia. You only have a one-way ticket,” she explains.

“What? I’ve never heard of that,” you reply, and a most unwelcome fear begins to swell up inside.

“We cannot let you board your flight without proof that you will be leaving Malaysia.”

You had planned to fly into Kuala Lumpur, to cross into Singapore by land, take the ferry to Indonesia and then return to Malaysia several weeks later before traveling by bus into Thailand. Why would you need to purchase an onward plane ticket for that?, you think to yourself. You don’t plan on leaving Malaysia by plane.

After an unsuccessful attempt at wooing the airline agent, the visions in your head are now of a plane taking off without you. You even check your pockets to see if you have enough Australian money to get you back into Melbourne.

And then the airline agent offers a suggestion. “If you go over to the Qantas office at the other end of the terminal, you can buy an onward ticket and then hopefully get a refund once you arrive in Asia.”

Off you go, running across the terminal with your backpack dancing off one arm, and with only an hour and fifteen minutes to go until your flight to Malaysia is scheduled to depart. As you approach the small Qantas ticket office, you want to scream. The man behind the counter is in the midst of pulling down the shutters as the clock outside strikes 5:00pm.

You call out to this man and he immediately tells you that the office is now closed. And then you do the only thing that comes to mind. You beg him to listen to your situation. Twenty minutes later, you’re running back across the terminal building towards the check-in counter, this time with a $585 refundable airline ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok, held firmly in your hand.

The airline agent finally checks you in now that you have your onward ticket and without hesitation you rush off to immigration, through security and towards your gate, arriving with only a few minutes to spare. And as soon as you buckle your seat belt and settle into your window seat, you lean your head back, wipe the sweat from your forehead and take a deep breath. You’re on your way to Asia.

Getting The Refund

As you could have predicted, obtaining a refund for your fully refundable onward ticket was not exactly as straightforward as the Qantas ticket man had promised. On your second day in Kuala Lumpur, you trek across the city to the Qantas office, which is closed for no apparent reason. The following day, you go there again and even though it is open, a Qantas employee informs you that the refund process will require two more visits to their office during the following week.

Just thankful to be in Malaysia in the first place, you accept their seemingly unorganized system and plan your time in Kuala Lumpur around your necessary trips to the Qantas office. After your third visit, you’re finally informed that the process has been completed, but, and you just knew there would be a ‘but’, you will not see the refund on your credit card statement for 6-8 weeks.

At this point, you just don’t care. You know you’ll get that $585 back someday and now all you want is to forget about onward tickets and refunds and concentrate on the fascinating culture around you.

The Reality Of Onward Tickets

The above is a true story of course and one that happened to me exactly as I wrote it, about 7 years ago. Perhaps you’ve experienced the same thing, as dealing with the issue of onward flight tickets is something that many travelers face during their adventures.

If you spend a lot of time reading up on the visa/entry requirements for countries around the world (as I do), you’ll realize that a high percentage of countries do require visitors to have an onward ticket in order to be granted entry. However, this is a rule that is often not enforced by immigration officials.

In addition to Malaysia, I can remember being asked to show proof of an onward flight ticket in several countries, including Australia, Singapore, Jordan, New Zealand, Myanmar and the UK. So it definitely does happen and unfortunately, there is often no way to know ahead of time if the rule is going to be enforced. And this is a problem for any traveler whose travel plans are open-ended or mostly overland, and therefore doesn’t involve any onward flights.

The Solution

In order to avoid a similar situation to the one in the Melbourne airport, I now make sure that I’m always prepared. But that doesn’t mean that I’m purchasing onward tickets all of the time. Instead, before I fly anywhere, I actually ‘create’ my onward tickets these days.

While some might think this is a bit ‘questionable’ of a trick, it is a workaround that saves me a great deal of hassle by eliminating the fear involved with hearing those dreaded words – ‘where’s your onward ticket?’ Here’s what to do:

  1. On your computer, open an old (or similar) flight confirmation that you may have and copy and paste the contents into a Word document.
  2. Search online for an actual onward flight from the country you’ll be visiting. (For example, if traveling to Brazil, look for flights from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, Argentina on a date before your Brazilian visa expires.)
  3. Write down all of the flight information for one of the suitable flights, including the flight #, dates/times, duration, total miles of the itinerary, airline and type of aircraft.
  4. In the Word document, replace the old flight details with the new details you’ve just written down and update any other dates found on the confirmation.
  5. In the “Cost and Billing Summary” section on the Word document, change the price details to match the actual cost of the flight you found during your online search.
  6. Convert the Word document into a PDF file (for a cleaner look) and print out a few copies.

*Alternatively, you could just sign in to Expedia or Travelocity, search for a flight and proceed all the way up until the ‘purchase’ stage. Then print out the final itinerary that displays on the screen and use that as your confirmation. I prefer the above method as it uses an actual paid confirmation format.

This a cropped version of what you end up with…if you click on the image you’ll get a clearer view.

Proof of Onward Travel - Flight Confirmation

And then, when an airline check-in staff, or even an immigration officer, asks for proof of your onward ticket, simply hand over your confirmation and you’ll quickly be on your way.

Well, can I really guarantee the success of this trick? Nope. So you’ll have to use it at your own risk. However, it’s worked for me each and every time, although the number of occasions that I’ve actually needed to show this proof is tiny compared to the number of countries I’ve entered on a one-way ticket. You just never know.


You can also use a reliable service such as One Way Fly. For 19 EUR you can get a valid onward ticket, in your name, to the destination you choose and complete with a real booking number. This ticket will get you on the plane and through immigration and then it will expire once you arrive.

Have you ever run into any problems with not having an onward ticket during your travels? Anyone with different advice to share?

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  1. JAKARIA RABBI June 3, 2019 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    I bought a ticket from onewayfly website. Got ticket within 12 hours as they said. I checked the booking reference number on the main airline website, it was ok. Therefore, I don’t think the site is a scam.

  2. Mayla April 14, 2019 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Don’t use this onewayfly….
    They are scam. I payed and I didn’t receive my ticket

  3. Alex April 14, 2019 at 2:31 am - Reply

    Great article !
    I’ve tried One Way Fly and it was a great service, didn’t have a problem with them.
    There is also which is a bit cheaper tho.

  4. Maximille Gonzales November 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Loved this article, it was rather helpful and I’m personally a big fan of these travel hacks!
    I’m currently drawing out my backpacking plans for South America and found a useful tip: To by pass the proof of a return flight you can purchase a Refundable ticket, which may cost more but you can cancel it for a full refund as soon as you land on international land. Since refundable tickets must be canceled just before departure this method allows for a stressless time of getting around to canceling your flight!

  5. Filipp January 26, 2018 at 10:49 am - Reply

    You can make fake onward ticket, just go to and choose pay by cash. They give you PNR number for 24h free. After that you should go to Photoshop or for create itinerary.

  6. RG January 3, 2018 at 8:34 am - Reply

    This just happened to me on my way to Costa Rica. It’s my first time buying a one way ticket because it was cheaper that way. Thankfully I also bought the return ticket the night before I left on my trip. In my case it was cheaper to buy them separately than a round trip. They were really strict about me showing them the return flight. This was my first time ever I experience onward travel. I google the term & came a cross your post. Good reading. I’ve been traveling a lot and this was the first time I ever heard of this.

  7. Kate December 11, 2017 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Hi Derek/Earl,

    I think I might have a similar issue with India – do you have experience of entering India on a 1 year multiple entry visa with no onward travel booked? Would you recommend that I need something booked?


    • Derek December 11, 2017 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      Hey Kate – To be safe, it’s probably best to have an onward ticket. The airline might ask for it when you check in for your flight to India and if they do, you’ll need to show one in order to board the flight. And while immigration in India rarely asks for onward ticket proof, the airline can be the problem.

  8. Zac September 11, 2017 at 8:25 am - Reply

    Hey, so In a few days I’m flying to Bangkok and with no outbound flight I do have a outbound flight from Singapore though would this count or not? What do you think? Plus the out bound flight is after the 30 day visa

    • Derek September 13, 2017 at 2:39 pm - Reply

      Hey Zac – There really isn’t any way to know ahead of time if that works since the rules aren’t exactly set in stone. It’s really up to the person who is checking your documents before you get on the flight and/or at immigration upon arrival in Bangkok. Let us know how it goes though as it can be helpful for other travelers.

      • Zac September 14, 2017 at 10:25 pm - Reply

        So when in china I managed to show her the Singapore ticket 6 weeks from now she nearly did it! then she asked for a ticket for leaving Thailand where I simply said bus and that worked she typed away and let us board without and outbound flight 🙂

  9. Jeanne Crump July 9, 2017 at 9:28 pm - Reply


    I am moving to Cambodia and therefore have a one-way ticket. I called Malaysian airlines already to ask about the requirement, and they confirmed I would need to show proof of an onward ticket. My main question is whether this specifically needs to be a flight, or if it can be a bus ticket. Bus tickets to Vietnam are insanely cheap and I am actually planning on going there for a visit, so it wouldn’t be a waste. But I’m wondering if bus tickets are accepted as proof.


    • Derek July 11, 2017 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      That’s a tricky one. I’ve heard of some people getting away with a bus tickets and I’ve heard of some being told a plane ticket was the only acceptable option. There really isn’t one right answer unfortunately and it will be up to the person you get when checking in for your flight.

  10. Sarah May 29, 2017 at 9:58 am - Reply

    I’ve just come across your post whilst doing some research as a few days ago Bangkok Air tried to stop me boarding my flight to Hong Kong with a one way ticket. I told them that it’s ridiculous and quoted my entry requirements as a British passport holder, she then let me sign an ‘indemnity form’ allowing me to travel without buying an onward ticket but I was basically just agreeing that if HK deported me, I would have to take full responsibility.
    I wonder if you, or any other travellers, have been offered this form?

  11. milly April 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    We are Brits also with the travel bug with a penchant for oneway air travel.

    Do you have experience of entry requirements for Jamaica? It seems Brits are VISA free as are Canadians, US, Australians and Japanese citizens.

    Do we need a mock up Ticket for entering Jamaica as proof of onward travel?

    • Derek April 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

      Hey Milly – In theory, all countries have the rule of needing an onward ticket but it’s the airline that checks, rarely the immigration officers. So it depends on your airline when you check in as to whether or not they are strict when it comes to Jamaica. But I don’t have any experience flying to Jamaica so I can’t say unfortunately.

  12. Brett March 31, 2017 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Derek, The key question is surely, how much ability do the airlines have at check in to check the validity of your ticket if it’s with other airlines and from a different airport ? For example if I’m travelling from Mexico city to Lima with Avianca and i have an onward reservation with British Airways from Lima to London on a later date how easily can Avianca validify that ? Let’s assume I’ve ” created ” this reservation as well !!!

    • Derek March 31, 2017 at 3:11 pm - Reply

      Hey Brett – From my experience, unless you use the same airline or one of their sister airlines (such as the budget version of a major airline), they are unable to look it up. I don’t think I’ve ever had an airline check-in agent actually look it up since I started doing this with booking an official ticket that can be cancelled within 24 hours.

  13. Brett March 30, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply


    Thanks for your reply. I was considering Orbitz ( Expedia i didn’t know had that facility) but if you use the 24 hour cancellation , does it truly refund everything or is there fees and hassle involved. I heard stories where you had to phone them and couldn’t get through etc how does it work ? Have you done it frequently ? Thanks in anticipation.

    • Marie-France @bigtravelnut March 30, 2017 at 12:12 pm - Reply

      I tried the 24-hour cancellation with Orbitz a couple of years ago, and there were no hassles involved in getting the refund, but I think they kept $14. This wasn’t mentioned anywhere. If your flights take more than 24 hours though (like flying to NZ from Canada), this option doesn’t work.

      • Derek March 30, 2017 at 11:35 pm - Reply

        But for an onward ticket you only need to buy a ticket to somewhere close to the place you’re arriving into. So if you’re flying to Peru, you just need to book a ticket to Ecuador, which shouldn’t be more than 24 hours.

    • Derek March 30, 2017 at 11:36 pm - Reply

      Hey Brett – I never had any trouble. Most of the time I try to do it through the airline’s website directly (Delta, American or United) and with that, I’ve also never had any issues. If you’re heading to Central/South America, Jetblue is another good one to try. Their 24 hour cancelation system is super easy and hassle-free, takes just a few clicks and you’re good to go.

  14. Brett March 28, 2017 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Derek. I haven’t read all the replies to this thread but I’m guessing you have heard of the website which supposedly remedies this situation at avert favourable cost. Can you verify if it is legitimate ( the site)? . I’m facing needing an onward ticket into Peru next week.

    • Derek March 30, 2017 at 10:13 am - Reply

      Hey Brett – I think it’s legit but I’ve never used them. These days, if you book tickets through Orbitz or Expedia or any US airline, they are required to give you 24 hours to cancel the ticket at no charge. So you can book the ticket a few hours before your trip and then refund it when you arrive. That’s the easiest and I think that’s all that is doing, buying refundable tickets.

  15. Jay March 17, 2017 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    I’m backpacking through Central America this summer. I’m entering through Costa Rica and hoping to exit home through Belize. Would a plane ticket home from Belize be good enough proof of onward travel for Costa Rican officials/airlines?

    • Derek March 18, 2017 at 2:17 am - Reply

      Hey Jay – Usually that would work. There are no set rules though so what works and doesn’t work isn’t exactly official. But that kind of set up does usually work when faced with this situation.

  16. Greg January 14, 2017 at 10:53 am - Reply

    I was looking for information about that. I’m wondering, is an open jaw ticket valid as proof for onward travel?
    I’ll be heading to KUL from BRU and returning to BRU from HKG.

    • Derek January 16, 2017 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      Hey Greg – Usually they want to see an actual ticket with a specific date, origin and destination city unfortunately.

  17. Rainiero December 8, 2016 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl – I assume the answer to this is going to be a big NO, but have you ever tried to use your blog as proof of your plans to leave a country? It’s probably a stupid idea, but I was wondering if it could work 😛

    • Derek December 8, 2016 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      Hey Rainiero – That would never work. It always needs to be actual proof in the form of an actual ticket. Without that kind of proof, just a blog is not sufficient.

  18. Betsy September 21, 2016 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Any suggestions on how to stay in the Schengen countries for longer than 90 days? If traveling within Europe, do we need to show an onward ticket? How often — any idea? Thanks for your help! We will be traveling indefinitely and want to stay within Europe as much as possible but we’re trying to figure out how we can do that given visa/onward ticket restrictions. Thanks for your help!

    • Derek September 24, 2016 at 12:06 am - Reply

      Hey Betsy – That’s a tough one but in general, it’s hard to stay more than 90 days unless you get a residence permit. This is possible in a couple of European countries for freelancers if you can prove x amount of income per month. As for an onward ticket, sometimes they will ask to see it but it’s not as common as other parts of the world.

  19. Christopher Fernandes September 13, 2016 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    I was planning to travel for the Chinese exhibition Guangzhou this October16. I am from India.
    While checking the rates by AIR ASIA,
    I found it was vastly cheaper to buy a flight from Kochi, (India) to Kuala Lumpur , (Malaysia)
    and then book a second flight for KUL to Guangzhou

    I need your guidance…
    1)Would I need a visa for Malaysia .. just to change flights.
    2) Am I allowed to book in this fashion… since they are charging me in MYR for the second flight
    3) Which ticket should I show as my “onward journey” when touching malaysia??

    You could email me also on my personal email ID..


    • Derek September 14, 2016 at 12:49 pm - Reply

      Hey Chris – You can book any combination of flights you want, there’s nothing wrong with that. As for your onward ticket, it would just be your next flight to China, that’s enough since it is proof that you are leaving Malaysia. As for whether or not you need a visa, you need to research that as it’s different for every nationality. You need to look up whether Indian citizens need a visa for a stop/change of airlines in Malaysia.

  20. Charlotte Little August 1, 2016 at 8:47 am - Reply

    This is a great tip and one I never would have thought to try (probably being too worried to cheat the system) but I’m travelling The Philippines and southeast Asia for a year and this makes a good backup to have in case I’m asked ! Thank you

  21. Kyle Fates May 24, 2016 at 4:08 am - Reply

    A little late to the conversation but thought I’d share a trick thats been working for me.

    Cheapoair has a free fully refundable cancellation fee, if cancelled within four hours of purchasing the ticket. In my case I travel to the bahamas alot and leave by boat so have a ticket out is a waste of money and time waiting on a refund. I have not flown anywhere across the pond therefore cannot verify its effectiveness across the Atlantic or pacific.

    I purchase my ticket just before I check in get a conformation email. Get to my gate and cancel for the full refund. Not sure how much longer until someone catches on but worth a shot if you’ve run short on options and time.

  22. Sarah H May 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    this is actually very interesting… but frankly speaking, im looking forward to go to Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia with one way ticket… what are the odds of me passing throught the CBP/Immigration or air-line check in staff with just a one way ticket? Will i be forced to buy the onward ticket? im really lost now.

  23. raz February 24, 2016 at 11:52 am - Reply sells u a pro ticket for 10 usd. for the usa, they checked my reurn confirmation code in the computer somehow, at jfk. no flyonward or copy/paste will work.

    • romak March 1, 2016 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      did they make you to buy a real onward ticket? Were there any implications since it wasn’t the ‘real’ ticket?

  24. Onward, Oh?! | Gone John January 9, 2016 at 9:36 am - Reply

    […] on an airplane until changing continents), the best advice I’ve read on this topic is from Wandering Earl who recently updated his own suggestion on how to deal with the matter of the ticket. He suggests […]

  25. Rony Mahmud November 26, 2015 at 3:41 am - Reply

    Its an interesting article for a really irritating issue for long term travelers. I have even refused to purchase a one way ticket at a Airline office without a proof of onward journey. How weird is that!!
    The solution you provided is probably workable and I am thinking of using it next time. But I have a question, is there any way for the airport staff or the immigration officer to check the validity of the onward ticket, or they are just okay to see something in paper? What if they can check the validity of the purchase?

  26. Tom King November 14, 2015 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    The onward ticket thing is sooooo old thinking. Decades ago it was common, but now I’ve only experienced it with Philippines airlines (but never asked for it on arrival). It could be a kind of scam for the airlines to relieve you of more money. Somewhere like Japan which is pretty strict don’t want to see an onward ticket when offered. Certainly China doesn’t and they’re pretty strict.

    I often travel by boat, especially in Asia, and therein lies a solution. I’ll leave you to figure it out lest it gets too popular!

    • Wandering Earl November 16, 2015 at 8:37 am - Reply

      As you can see, this post is a few years old and as I’ve mentioned in the comments, there are other ways to handle this now that are much easier. Simply purchasing a fully refundable onward ticket and then getting the refund as soon as you arrive (by just jumping online for a few minutes) is about as easy at it gets.

      • Howard Huxter November 21, 2015 at 2:48 am - Reply

        Not if you use budget airlines such as Tiger airlines. I made a mistake when I filled in the form on line and they flatly refused to take this into account. This contrasts with EasyJet who were fantastic in responding to and fixing my error.
        Other budget airlines – and there are now many in Asia which I use -pretty much refuse any refunds whatsoever.

  27. Do You Need Proof of Onward Travel? November 4, 2015 at 5:20 am - Reply

    […] email from a travel agent, mocking up an itinerary. Travel blogger Wandering Earl even provides a how-to article on mocking up a ticket on his […]

  28. David September 25, 2015 at 3:47 am - Reply

    This was a great posting as I was just denied boarding a Singapore Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur via Singapore. They told me that Malaysian law says you have to have proof on onward travel – which is true…but no one enforces it. I’ve flown Qatar, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific and others, all on one-way tickets to KL and have never been asked for proof of onward travel. Nor, have I have been asked by the Malaysian Immigration officers. So I think it’s just S’pore Air’s following rules to the T – it is Singapore after all…a place where it’s illegal to have chewing gum. So anyway, you can fly most airlines without hassle on a one-way to KL. Just don’t fly S’pore Air. And don’t worry about thru-travel proof with immigration.

  29. […] Fake a onward flight ticket. […]

  30. matt marshall July 14, 2015 at 2:00 am - Reply

    If booking a refundable airfare you should really check the penalty rules. I was just doing a quick practice on Expedia (without actually booking) and found that for a lot of Asian carriers in particular, even though the airfare is Refundable there is often a USD penalty fee, sometimes up to USD75!!

    Just to get to the full fare rules requires getting to the payment page. So a bit annoying.

  31. Galen July 9, 2015 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Had the same experience a year ago. I booked a one way ticket on-line for a flight on Bangkok Air to Manila. When I arrived at the airport to pick up my boarding pass, I was simply refused with the only explanation that I had to have an onward flight. I was dumbfounded. The agent was so rude about it I had the feeling he wanted to hit me for even asking, so I just walked out of the Bangkok Int’l Airport with my mouth open. Anyway you look at it, it was a dirty trick by both the agency for selling me the ticket, and the agent with Bangkok Air for being so rude for not permitting me to board. No, not Bangkok Air anymore. I’ve learned my lesson, and will book with a better airline in the future.

  32. Martin June 23, 2015 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    I have been caught out a couple of times on entering the Philippines with a single ticket. Now I purchase an onward flight from for just $5. I have used them a couple of times to show proof of onward travel and it worked both times without any problems. It takes two minutes to enter the travel dates and destination and they email through a flight confirmation. Its only the deposit of $5 which you pay so you can’t actually use the flight but the ticket they send you will be fine for the purpose of showing proof of onward travel and it’s cheaper than paying for an actual flight which you are not going to use.

    • Malin October 7, 2015 at 7:12 am - Reply

      Hi! Me and my friends have the same problem, tho flying to Brazil on a one way ticket. Never heard of onwardflights before but it sounds like a really good solution!

      I read this tho,

      “Are you obligated to purchase the full value of the flight through Smart Traveller?
      -No. You can decide to purchase another ticket when you know for sure which dates you want to travel.”

      Does this mean that I still need to purchase a ticket throuh them later, just on another date, or how does it work? didnt quite get it.. 🙂

      • Dario November 26, 2015 at 1:50 pm - Reply

        Malin, what they say is that you purchase an actual airline ticket from another company once you will know your travel dates. OnwardFlights doesn’t sell airline tickets.

        • Dario November 30, 2015 at 3:32 pm - Reply

          While doing more research on the subject, I found out that is probably a scam, phishing for your credit card details. I wouldn’t take the risk.

          • j. lowe April 20, 2016 at 10:40 am

            they only accept pay pal so most you can lose is 5 bucks. worth a try or make your own from any old flight itinerary just change flights,times, dates, cost, destination and departure. It works, just be sure the phony ticket is not on the same airline you are about to board.

  33. Stephenie March 10, 2015 at 6:12 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    I recently came across your article from 2010 about the “confirmed onward travel” that is required when you apply for a Transit visa. I was recently refused by China Eastern Airlines to board my flight to Shanghai, where I was supposed to be allowed to stay for up to 72 hours with a Transit visa. It was my mistake to not get a VISA before entering China (For some reason it slipped my mind, because I always had a study visa in China), but I bought a ticket from Shanghai to Hong Kong as the airline employees suggested and showed them the confirmation email. They still refused to let me through, saying that that was no e-ticket number. The confirmation email did have my flight number, departure time, booking number, and payment confirmation. I’m wondering what the “Proof of confirmed onward ticket” specifically means and whether or not they had the right to keep me off that flight.

    I actually received the itinerary just a few minutes after they refused to let me through and closed the ticket counter, but I don’t understand why the confirmation email I received was not enough, especially after they suggested me to buy the ticket and watched me do it. There was one employee who seemed extremely adamant in not allowing me to board the flight. I called a few days later and the same employee picked up the phone and hung up on me after telling him his name was asked. I don’t know what to do now, because they want me to pay a rebooking fee, which I don’t think is fair since they should have allowed me to get on that flight.

    I did quite a bit of research about the 72 hour Transit visa in Shanghai and nowhere does it give a specific explanation of what a confirmed onward ticket is. Would my confirmation email with all my flight into and payment summary have been sufficient?

    Thanks for your time!



  34. Raquel March 5, 2015 at 10:57 pm - Reply


    First of all, I am very impressed with your consistent and informative replies to almost all the comments here; I am getting a lot of great information. I’ll check out the rest of your site for more info!

    My question is: I am planning on buying a refundable airplane ticket as you suggested out of Bangkok since I bought a one-way ticket. Since you mentioned that it is the airline who asks for it before you board the flight, I was wondering of WHICH flight this is. I am departing from Canada with a layover in LAX and another layover in Tokyo before I arrive in Bangkok. Due to the length of this journey, I am worried about missing the 24-hour refund window. Do they check it at LAX, or in Tokyo? (Same airline), and when will I be able to safely cancel it to get the full refund?

    Thank you!

  35. Kathryn Fitzgerald February 21, 2015 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Hi Earl! Thanks for reading this! I have a dilemma- we are flying into PVR and supposed to stay ten days- and fly back to nyc- however I might want to take a detour to experience the day of the dead for three days prior to returning to nyc- tix will be in high demand and I want to purchase now- do u know of any way I can purchase both returns (Pvr-nyc) and (Oaxaca-nyc) and get the unused one refunded without buying refundable tix which are exorbitant – thanks and happy trails! Kathi

  36. Jordan February 4, 2015 at 3:27 am - Reply

    Hey i’m traveling to England from Toronto Monday with a oneway. I plan on showing them a Train ticket to norway as my onward. Will this work? If so would i have to show proof of my onward leaving norway also?

  37. Chloe January 20, 2015 at 12:10 am - Reply

    Hi Earl!
    my boyfriend and I are heading to thailand at the end of this month and only purchased one way tickets there and plan to head to australia afterwards but don’t want to book the flight until later on in our trip, we won’t have visas just the 30 day tourist allowance once we arrive. We are wondering if just booking a bus ticket out of thailand would be sufficient as an onward ticket? We may still try your flight ticket trick but just to be safe perhaps book an onward bus ticket if they allow it as an onward ticket..
    Thanks, happy travels,

    • Wandering Earl January 20, 2015 at 4:46 am - Reply

      Hey Chloe – There really aren’t any set rules. It’s not the immigration officer in Thailand who will ask, it’s the airline that will ask when you check in for your flight to Thailand. It’s their responsibility to make sure everyone has an onward ticket, technically. So, it depends on the person you get. They might not ask for proof of anything, they might ask and be okay with a bus ticket or they might require you to have a flight booked. There really isn’t any way to know ahead of time unfortunately.

  38. Leah January 13, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Hi again, Let me rephrase that. I want to stay abroad longer than the 6 months in India, but don’t have a set date to fly out and waiting on friends to confirm plans as to what country…
    Questions and dilemma still the same. Thank you.

  39. Leah January 13, 2015 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl,
    Your blog is one of a kind. Read all the posts. Situation: Going to India in a month. Have 10 year term tourism visa. Problem: Want to stay longer than 6 months allowed. Buying an onward travel ticket with a 24 hour refund window seems dicey given the time it takes to fly to India. Question: What would be the best option? Buying a refundable ticket, with which airline? When was the last time you used your infamous copy and paste for onward travel and ever in India? How do you get around the ‘ticket’ number needing to be legitimate for the possibility that airlines could punch it into their system? Compliment: Something about your delivery and sense of humor reminds me of Howard Stern…
    Thank you.
    Sincerely, Leah

    • Wandering Earl January 14, 2015 at 8:43 am - Reply

      Hey Leah – That’s a tough one…I’ve never used this method for India and this time, when I just flew here two days ago (I’m in India now), nobody asked for proof at all. As for which airline you can buy a refundable ticket for, you’ll have to look online on or something and search for refundable tickets…I’m not too sure who is offering what at the moment. And with the ticket number, when I used the copy and paste method, nobody ever checked the ticket number…they just looked at the print out and that was that. But as I’ve mentioned in the comments, these days I really don’t use that method any more. I prefer the fully refundable ticket method since that is more reliable overall. Hope that makes sense!

      And thanks for the comment, I think 🙂

  40. Ken January 10, 2015 at 6:59 am - Reply

    Recently, going from Melbourne to Bali with Garuda they wanted to see Indonesia exit ticket but I explained I would be applying for a 30 day extension to my 30 day VOA visa so I was not sure when I would leave, the cost and messing about with Garuda makes it not an option to buy now and change date later (customer service on the ground is non existent).
    I showed them a credit card, a big wad of Indonesian money and same with Australian money. They let me through but said Indo. immigrasi might make me buy one there and then.
    On arrival in Bali I just slipped an Immigrasi guy (the one who hangs about in the area where the huge queue starts) some money, $20 is enough, for an “express immigrasi exit” . . . he doesn’t give a hoot about your next flight and you are out the door an hour or more before your fellow travelers.
    Good luck y’all . . . . . I have been on and off the road for 50 years.

  41. Michael January 9, 2015 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Hey. We are also traveling for the sake of traveling…does anybody know if a bus ticket to leave india does do the trick? It’s much cheaper than flying and if we have to have proof on leaving the country it doesn’t stipulate via plane…

    • Wandering Earl January 9, 2015 at 2:07 pm - Reply

      Hey Michael – For India, usually a bus ticket does not work since there are really only two countries you can go to by bus – Nepal or Bangladesh. So they know that many travelers go there and then come back to India so they don’t often trust just a bus ticket.

  42. Marie-France (a.k.a. BigTravelNut) January 3, 2015 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    If you check-in online, print your own boarding pass, and then walk straight to your gate when you get to the airport, doesn’t that solve the problem of the questioning check-in agent? I have a one-way ticket to Cancun the day after tomorrow and no return or onward ticket whatsoever. For once I thought it might be fun to leave things open and decide later if I’m returning from El Salvador, Guatemala or Mexico sometime in March. I’m getting a little nervous now though…

    • Wandering Earl January 5, 2015 at 4:02 am - Reply

      Hey Marie-France – If you are flying internationally to a destination such as Mexico, you are usually required to go to the check-in counter or possibly the gate counter in order to have your passport checked in person. And this is when they ask about onward flights if they choose to.

  43. […] Also some countries (i.e. Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Myanmar) are known for asking for proof of onward travel. For these countries I’ll probably arrive with onwards travel booked or, at least, ensure I don’t arrive at the airport with 30 minutes to spare in case I have to buy a ticket! For other countries, I’ll probably try this trick. […]

  44. Erin December 16, 2014 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Most airports (at least in the US) have a self check in kiosk. Will using these avoid having to pull one over on an agent? Once you’re in the terminal you’re okay, right?

    • Wandering Earl December 19, 2014 at 5:26 am - Reply

      Hey Erin – I doubt it because I’m sure the systems are designed to detect certain patterns that might be ‘suspicious’ or at least lead to extra questioning. Once you’re in the terminal you are finished with immigration and customs, yes.

  45. Kristine November 16, 2014 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    This also happened to me leaving Toronto for St Marten. I was going to crew on a sailboat. All I had with me was the information of the boat I would be sailing on. This was enough for them.

  46. Lars Ruesink November 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Anyone here who has done something similar when he/she booked a retour ticket?

    My story is the following:
    I am going to travel through South America for 6 months. Since a retour ticket is way cheaper than a one way ticket I decided to book a retour to Buenos Aires and start and end my trip in Buenos Aires. My ticket now actually says that I will stay in Argentina for 6 months which obviously is not the case. Normally spoken Dutch people like me don’t need a visa if they stay in argentina for less than 90 days but now my ticket says something different. Therefore, my carrier (Iberia) asks for a visa number already in advance, which I don’t have as I am only planning to stay in Argentina for a month or two.

    Today I called Iberia and told them about my plans and that I don’t need a visa for that reason. Their response was that they simply look at the dates on my retour ticket and won’t allow me to board the plane without a visa. Does anyone have a similar experience or does anyone know if they will also accept a ticket to another country in South America as a proof of onward travel instead of looking at your ticket dates for a visa only?

    Kind regards,


    • Wandering Earl November 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      Hey Lars – What you can do is book a ticket from Argentina to your next destination. Perhaps you can just book a bus ticket from BA to Santiago or a ferry ticket to Uruguay. You need something that shows you are leaving Argentina within those 3 months or else it doesn’t work. You don’t need a return ticket, you just need an onward ticket to somewhere else.

      • Sarah January 12, 2015 at 11:45 am - Reply

        Hi Wandering Earl,

        Just been reading your comments and I can see your a bit of a travelling guru! Soooo…I don’t suppose if you know if a ferry ticket Buenos Aires to Montevido, Uruguay a few days before the end of the 90 days will suffice as an onward ticket do you? Because I know that lots of people make this journey to extend their visa in Argentina (and as this is my intention too!) I was wondering if you know how smart these guys are haha!! Do you think they will accept this or will they guess my intention and send me on my merry way?!

        Thanks for help and hope your having a blast 🙂

        • Wandering Earl January 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm - Reply

          Hey Sarah – The thing is, there really aren’t any specific rules with this stuff so a lot of the times it depends on who you are talking to. One officer might be okay with it, another might not, another might not ask for proof at all. Technically, the ferry ticket should be sufficient but no guarantees of course 🙂

          • Sarah January 21, 2015 at 6:50 pm

            Okie doke, thanks a lot for your help, your a star! Happy travelling 🙂

    • Lars January 12, 2015 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      Booked myself a ticket out of the country as a proof of onward travel. In the end this seemed totally unnecessary as nobody asked for a proof of onward travel. Nor Iberia nor Argentinian customs asked anything about my stay or whatsoever, they just stamped my passport and told me it will be valid for 90 days..

      • Wandering Earl January 13, 2015 at 3:21 am - Reply

        Hey Lars – That’s the thing, you never know unfortunately. It’s not always 100% certain they will ask but if they do, it can be an issue. Glad you made it!

  47. Sonya October 28, 2014 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Hey Amandine,

    I am in the same situation you were. I’m leaving for colombia in two days and I don’t know what to do about that onward ticket thing…
    What did you do?
    Thanks 🙂

  48. Soph October 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Hi guys, would it not be best just to book, print and immediately cancel? That way you don’t have to risk missing the 24hr canx period, plus the refund will be there quicker?

    Or do you think they will check that you haven’t cancelled there and then?


    • Soph October 26, 2014 at 5:04 pm - Reply

      By the way I’m leaving this Wednesday, and only just found out about the onward travel thing… #lastminutemary :/

      Cheers 🙂

    • Wandering Earl October 26, 2014 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      Hey Soph – That is an option but sometimes, the airlines might check to make sure the ticket is valid. It is usually the airlines check-in staff that check, not immigration, so if they look up your confirmation number in the system and nothing comes up, it could get tricky.

  49. Brittany October 24, 2014 at 4:31 am - Reply

    Hi Wandering Earl,

    I’m currently looking at applying for a tourist visa to Thailand that would allow me to stay 2 months with a possible one month extension. I’ll be applying from Manila and am required to show proof of a return ticket or onward travel I guess. Do you think the Expedia trick will be sufficient enough for a visa application? Have you used it for that before?

    Cheers and Happy travels!

    • Wandering Earl October 26, 2014 at 8:26 am - Reply

      Hey Brittany – I’ve never had to prove that on a visa application so I can’t say. But if you book a fully refundable ticket, print it out and include it with your application, once your visa gets approved you can then go online and get the refund. That might be a better option.

      • Adam November 26, 2014 at 10:56 pm - Reply

        Hey Earl,

        I plan to leave for Malaysia in about two weeks. At this time I only have enough money to purchase a one way ticket. Would I have a problem entering Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a one way ticket? I do plan on buying a return ticket later on in my visit.

        • Wandering Earl November 30, 2014 at 10:41 pm - Reply

          Hey Adam – It’s not about the immigration or entering the country. It’s about checking in for your flight. It is usually the airlines that ask for proof of onward travel in order for you to board the flight that will take you to Malaysia as it is their responsibility to make sure every passenger is following the rules. So, it depends. The airline check in staff might ask for proof, in which case they won’t let you on the flight without it, or perhaps they won’t. You never really know unfortunately which is why it’s always good to be safe and get some proof.

  50. Ruchik October 18, 2014 at 10:03 am - Reply

    I have used the expedia trick for getting a visa. One country required a purchased/confirmed air ticket before applying for a visa. The risk was that if for some reason the visa was rejected, I would lose the air ticket, as the cheaper tickets these days are non refundable.
    Let me throw in another question for you, when you travel to all these places, do you buy your air tickets first and then apply for the visa? Or do you think that it is better to wait, get the visa first and then buy the ticket. The latter option is less riskier, but the downside is that by the time you apply and get the visa (most countries do not allow you to apply more than 2 months in advance of your travel date), the flight ticket prices have skyrocketed, as now you only have about a month before departure date to buy the ticket. Your thoughts?

  51. Brayden Hall September 16, 2014 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    Hey there Wandering Earl,

    I have recently purchased a one way ticket to Rio de Janiero, Brazil and plan on travelling throughout the rest of South America and flying home from Ecuador. I do not have a return home ticket or an onward flight ticket purchased yet. However, I will be purchasing flights from Santiago, Chile to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) before I actually leave Vancouver to begin my travels as that is another destination that I plan on going to during my trip. Do you think that these flight tickets would work as proof of an onward ticket?

    It would be greatly appreciated if you could get back to me.

    Thank you either way! 🙂

    • Wandering Earl September 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Hey Brayden – The thing with this stuff is that it’s impossible for me to truly know what will happen because it all depends on the airline check-in agent, how strict that particular airline is about these rules, etc. They might not ask you for any proof, they might ask you, they might be okay with you saying that you’re traveling around all of South America, they might want to see actual tickets. It’s hard to pinpoint unfortunately.

      With that said, usually a country just wants to know that you plan to leave. So if you have a flight from Chile, that does indicate that you will have to be in Chile, which means you will have to leave Brazil to get there. So on paper, it looks good but again, there’s just no way to guarantee anything.

  52. […] that some countries might not let you in if you can’t show proof of onward travel. Check out how Wandering Earl solved his issues of not having a return […]

  53. Dirty D September 5, 2014 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Hi Wandering Earl,
    Myself and 2 other friends are traveling into Bangkok via Philippine airlines and currently booked on a one-way ticket. We were thinking about purchasing a bus ticket out of the country before arrival just to be safe, your thoughts? I’m all about forging a return-ticket but the other 2 travelers are a little bit more weary. Appreciate the help!

    • Wandering Earl September 5, 2014 at 3:42 am - Reply

      Dustin – The thing is, it’s not about the immigration officials in Thailand. I’ve almost never heard of travelers being asked for the onward ticket at immigration. It usually happens at the airport when the airline check-in staff do their required checks of your documents. Sometimes they will ask, sometimes they won’t. So you could try out the bus ticket option as there’s a good chance that in the Philippines, they won’t be as strict when you get to the airport and they probably won’t even ask for anything.

  54. Zivah September 1, 2014 at 5:22 am - Reply

    Hi guys, do I need an onward ticket if I will be traveling to the Philippines via Philippine Airlines but will leave the country through Zamboanga then to Sandakan, Malaysia by boat?

    Thank you

    • BK September 4, 2014 at 7:12 am - Reply

      Hi Zivah,

      Just really puzzled with your plans on why you need to leave from Zamboaga to Sandakan. But probably if you are really a traveler, then that’s a new experience. Though I believe the nearest airport is Kota Kinabalu and you need to travel around 5 hours by land. If by sea, then it would take around 24 hours.

      But going back, you MIGHT still be asked for an onward ticket and a lot of questions on why you exit route is Zamboaga.

  55. kanannie August 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    If you show a fake onward ticket from another airline for a flight that is 45 days out, how will the counter agent know that it’s a fake ticket? Does AirAsia have access to check Lion Air’s ticket and flight information for 45 days in the future?

    • Wandering Earl August 24, 2014 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Hey Kanannie – No, in general, they can’t check. However, these days, it can be easier just to purchase a fully-refundable ticket the day before your flight and then get the refund as soon as you land.

  56. Daniel August 7, 2014 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Me and my partner have brought one way tickets to Colombia, departing in a few months time. We plan to travel then to Ecuador and then to Peru using overland public transport. We have already booked our return flight from Peru, will this suffice as “proof of onward travel” for the airline when I flight to Colombia? Does the onward ticket need to be out of the country you are flying into, or will proof that you will be flying back to your home country within a few months time from a neighboring country be enough?

    • Wandering Earl August 7, 2014 at 9:29 am - Reply

      Hey Daniel – Generally, that will work just fine. They just want to know that you are leaving the country and having a flight home from a neighboring country should work.

  57. Jeff July 26, 2014 at 11:35 am - Reply

    I may be blind but I can’t find any refundable tickets on Orbitz or Expedia.
    Where should I click? It only gives me cheap ticket with no refund options…

  58. sandy June 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Earl, if you have issues entering the UK, why don’t you just buy a full flexible business premier class train ticket to paris via Eurostar? It’s fully refundable and you get your refund in 5 business days of requesting it.

  59. Amandine June 14, 2014 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Great posts and very interesting string of comments.
    Bought a one way ticket for Colombia, departure in 10 days so I want to fix the proof of onward travel. I am not so tempted by the “fake” suggestion but would need more than 24h refund due to long travelling before getting to the airport… Anyone could suggest a good company/ website with a fully refundable tickets and no fees?
    I am always suspicious on the “refundable tickets”, wouldn’t want to end up buying business class tickets and not being able to get the money back…. 😉

    • Jeff July 26, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

      I have the same fear regarding ‘refundable’ tickets… And I’m still searching for a good website/company for this.

  60. Gemma June 2, 2014 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Thanks Sean.

  61. Gemma May 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Hey Sean, when you bought your return tickets did you buy a return ticket to the US from Ecuador? Or from another country in SA? My partner and I will be going on a 12 month South American trip but we haven’t bought tickets yet. I dont know whether a Montreal – Quito return ticket with a return date 12 months later will get us into Ecuador given the 90 day visa limit. Or is that going to cause issues? Would it be safer choosing another country to exit from so that Ecuador can see we will be leaving?

    • Sean May 31, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

      Hey Gemma,

      We bought a fully refundable ticket from Ecuador, on the same airline. Not that this was the best solution — it took months, and more than a few calls, to receive the refund. I think the key is that the return ticket isn’t an Ecuador thing, but more an airline issue. From what I’ve read (this comment string included), as long as you can provide proof of onward travel to the airline (including some sort of ticket number), you should be ok. If you already have booked your out-of-Ecuador travel, have a printout of that ticket, so they can enter it into their database.Of course, it can’t hurt to have a bunch of documentation. Our issue was that we didn’t have the ongoing ticket (we were planning on booking it in-country).

      Have a great trip! 12 months in SA sounds fantastic. We just did 3 months, 1 day in the US, and heading to Mexico for 5 weeks!


  62. Tom May 19, 2014 at 5:07 am - Reply

    ah right, many thanks are they the tickets that have FREE cancel beside them? so i get one of these i can cancel it within 24 hours, and get refunded right away without any problems??

    Its that simple? Is there a limit though to how many you can cancel, you would imagine that if you do it every single time, they’re going to catch on?

    suppose what you could do is, not have proof of onward travel, then if asked at the airport, just quickly buy one of these refundable tickets and show them, but have heard a lot of airports don’t always have free wifi……

    Can you not just tell them you’re going to get overland travel out of the country once you’re in there, so India for example they ask for proof, could you not just show them your funds, and explain you will be getting a train in to Nepal, have you tried this method?

    Many thanks.

    • Wandering Earl June 2, 2014 at 10:51 am - Reply

      Hey Tom – I only do it about once every six months so I’ve never had a problem. And I’ve used the ‘overland travel’ explanation before but it rarely works. It’s just much easier to have proof of a flight so that you don’t have any issues at all at the airport.

  63. Tom May 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    If we do use this Orbitz website, any idea how long it take for the refund to go through?
    It’s a tricky one because you don’t want to have to buy a ticket and spend money but at the same time, if you get stopped without faux proof, or legit proof, you’re gonna be screwed, and just end up wasting more time/money, suppose you could always just get a cheap train/bus ticket if they have neighboring countries…..

    • Wandering Earl May 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      Hey Tom – You have 24 hours to cancel the ticket so at any time you can go online into your Orbitz account and cancel it and then you are credited for the purchase right away. But just make sure the ticket you buy allows for the 24 hour cancellation. Most tickets do but some don’t. It will say it on the site though.

  64. Sean May 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm - Reply


    Sorry for the late reply on this, but thought it would be helpful for other people even if it’s too late for you. We flew Copa Airlines as well, and purchased a fully refundable ticket at the airport with them in order to board the flight. I wouldn’t recommend this option, though — Copa has a policy that they have two “billing cycles” of your credit card to refund your money, so they will hang onto it for quite a while. We submitted a cancellation/refund request online, which they took 10 days to acknowledge, so the “countdown” started then. It’s been two months since we’ve submitted the request, and no refund yet. I’d go with one of the other methods Earl has mentioned.

  65. Rambow @ Romancing The Planet May 5, 2014 at 8:39 am - Reply

    Hello Earl, the solution might land us in embarrassment, if we get caught. How would you justify yourself in such a situation.

    • Wandering Earl May 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      Hey Rambow – Things have changed slightly with this one which is why I mention in the comments that these days, it can be easier just to buy a fully refundable ticket or use a website like Orbitz that allows you to hold a reservation for up to 24 hours and cancel it within that time. This way, you can use the ticket to show to the airport staff and then get a refund as soon as you arrive at your destination.

  66. william bitter April 11, 2014 at 2:13 am - Reply

    Can’t you just book a flight before you go to the airport with a 24 hour cancelation policy and then just cancel it right after you land? No money spent and no risk of being denied?

    • Wandering Earl April 11, 2014 at 3:24 am - Reply

      Hey William – Sure, you can do that if you can find such a flight. For some destinations, it’s a bit harder to get a flight with a 24 hour cancellation period but now you can try using something like Orbitz which offers 24 hour cancellation period for many flights booked on their site.

  67. Ricardo April 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Thank you Earl i have been reading your blog for hours!!;

    I would like to do this but I dont have any flight confimation layouts… Im planning to go to Thailand this month. Someone have any idea of how i can make this? or any cheap alternative to fill this requirement?


    • Wandering Earl April 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm - Reply

      Hey Ricardo – Another option is to simply purchase a fully refundable one way onward ticket and then, once arrive in your destination, just hop online and get the refund. That might be easier.

  68. Sean March 21, 2014 at 11:48 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Our experience was pretty similar — leaving the US to Ecuador for a four month South and Latin American tour, and we ran into the airline agent requesting proof of return. Having heard about this, we had an itinerary mocked up, but unfortunately, without a ticket number (important — they must have a field in a database to fill in!), it was no good. We ended up having to buy two refundable tickets as well. We’ll be using your technique moving forward. For people who are concerned about the “legality” of this option, I have also heard of people buying low-cost bus tickets onto a neighboring country as proof of exit. Haven’t tried it, but it would likely be far less expensive.

    • Sophia April 3, 2014 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Sean.

      Thank you for your post.
      I too, am flying from the USA to Ecuador (currently on a one way ticket) in late April, 2014.
      I would be ever grateful if you could tell me the name of the flight company (I’ll be flying with Copa Airlines)?
      And where to/ and via what website you bought the fully refundable air tickets??

      It would be incredible for my own peace of mind to hear what you have to say, to save me the stress. Thank you 🙂

  69. […] have lots of airline points 12. Look into onward travel requirements for every country you visit: II. How to Book Cheap Accomodation 1. Couchsurfing pros: free, live like a local, interact with […]

  70. […] have lots of airline points 12. Look into onward travel requirements for every country you visit: II. How to Book Cheap Accomodation 1. Couchsurfing pros: free, live like a local, interact with […]

  71. Tom February 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    would this be considered illegal? am going backpacking around Asia for a year, and will most likely do this, what would the consequences be if the ticket was fake, and they realised.

  72. Dana January 18, 2014 at 11:47 am - Reply

    I have a friend in Kula Lamur,Malaysia and he out staid his visa. After paying the fee required by immigration; his ticket is now out of force. They will not exchange it to allow him to leave the country; isn’t there a way to have the airline refund then issue a new ticket? I am stuck as what to do to get my friend out…Any suggestions?

  73. Jennifer January 9, 2014 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    I recently flew standby to Beijing. In order to pass through the airport or stay for a free 72 hour period during which a visa is not required, you need a confirmed ticket out of Beijing. I wasn’t sure I’d get on the Beijing flight until the time of boarding, so I waited until entering through SFO security to purchase a connecting flight to Siem Reap via Kayak that I had pre-selected and was luckily still available. However, the agent at SFO insisted that I needed this itinerary printed. I had a screen shot of the ticket confirmation on my phone and had no way to print (being I was already at the airport). The agent agreed to print out the confirmation. My question is, do you need a physical copy in hand of your confirmation or should a digital copy on your mobile device work just as well. When I got to Beijing, they confirmed my onward ticket before allowing me to leave customs.

  74. Mike Markoff December 28, 2013 at 7:25 am - Reply

    Hey Earl,
    I had the same dilemma trying to check in at LAX to go to New Zealand- my heart dropped. I actually bought a refundable onwards ticket using American Advantage miles… which ended up being easily refunded, and took no precious dollars out of my pocket. Of course a few hours after landing my working holiday visa finally went through.

  75. Bjorn November 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    I have encountered this problem many times, so I started having a friend of mine, who owns a travel agency, to email me “fake” tickets. It worked for a while, but it doesn’t anymore. The airlines have caught on to it. At the check-in counter they will check the ticket number in their computer, and if it isn’t valid they will refuse you. This has happened twice to me, almost making me miss my flights.

    It is not immigration who require an onward ticket, it is the airlines. When immigration refuses someone entry for what ever reason, it is the airline’s responsibility to take them out of the country. So the airlines are just covering their losses. At land border crossings no one has EVER asked me for an onward ticket, so clearly it is not the immigration office who are pushing for this.

    This is silly and very inconvenient for us travelers. I wrote to IATA and suggested that travelers without onward tickets should instead be able to deposit $500 at check-in, which the airline can use if the person gets refused at immigration, and the traveler can then reclaim the $500 at the ticket booth in the destination airport. No reply and Im not surprised.

  76. ariane October 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Hi there! I need some help, I’m holding a Philippine Passport. I already have my tourist visa to Dubai, but haven’t purchased my ticket yet, It should be manila-dubai-manila, but since im flying to other countries, I’m going to base my departure to Dubai in the country of my final destination. I’m flying to SG with RT tickets Manila-SG-Manila for 4 days, I’ll be in SG for 2 days, a day in Malaysia (train), then fly to Bangkok for 2 days with one way ticket AirAsia KL-BKK. I have a problem in entering bangkok, lets say I’m planning to fly straight from BKK to Dubai? Can I just buy a one way ticket to BKK and show my ticket to Dubai as my onward travel or exit ticket to their country? or I still need to buy RT tickets BKK-kuala lumpur-BKK and just use my bkk-dubai-manila when departing from bkk?

  77. […] to ask for.  In fact, it’s common to do so.  There are workarounds like printing a fake ticket (really?  yes, but I don’t really recommend it.  Border guards are pretty serious looking) or just […]

  78. Ken August 22, 2013 at 6:16 am - Reply

    I got stopped by jetstar in darwin airport on a 1 way flight to singapore. So much rubbish. My solution and to purchase a train ticket out of singapore, but only 1km out of singapore making it as cheap as possible. It worked, althought i was lucky there was reasonable internet at the airport and i turned up early enough

  79. Lemmi August 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    Hi Earl!
    I,m traveling North/Central/South America over a year now and I,m planning to hitch a boat trip from Brazil to Africa so I,m wondering if I can do the same and when I enter Africa by boat present an onward travel confirmation?…..

    • Wandering Earl August 23, 2013 at 1:07 am - Reply

      Hey Lemmi – To be honest, I’m not too sure about that one unfortunately.

  80. Hannah August 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Ha yes i felt this may have been a bit of a dumb thing to do. I shall try and wing it with ryan air! Cheers Earl 🙂

  81. Hannah August 20, 2013 at 7:01 am - Reply

    Hi Earl!

    This article is a bit of a life saver -thank you!

    I’m just creating my own ‘proof’ now for a trip to Jordan. I’m wondering if what I have done will be ok, because the template I am using is from the flight I will actually be on (i’ve got confirmation from Iberia for a Royal Jordian flight. And i’m using a royal jordinian flight as my fake flight.) My worry is that becuase I am on a royal jordinian flight and am providing ‘proof’ of another flight, they can easily spot or find out that I have made up my ticket number or confirmation number. So do you think I have been ridiculous? Or do they just cast an eye at the onward travel document?

    The other template I could use is a ryanair one.. but you cant really get rid of the Ryanair branding from the rest of the confirmation, and the company doesnt sell flights out of Jordan, so i kind of think that would be even less convincing?!

    What do you reckon?

    Cheers for your help! Happy travels.

    • Wandering Earl August 20, 2013 at 9:23 am - Reply

      Hey Hannah – I’d be careful with using a template from the same airline that you are flying with because they can easily look it up in the system and see that it is not real. The idea is to use a completely different airline so they can’t do that!

  82. lindsay August 8, 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,

    Earl i was just wondering why the need to convert the document into a pdf file?

    I realize you say “for a cleaner look” but seeing you’re providing the authorities or airline with a printed version (hard copy) I’m of the understanding that once printed it would appear identical regardless of whether it came from a pdf file,word document or some other source. Could you please elaborate for me?

    It’s been on my mind for a while now & I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts.

    Cheers & All The Best.


    The only reason I can see is if you show the airline or others directly from your smart phone or lap top? Is this the case as I don’t travel with either.

    • Wandering Earl August 12, 2013 at 3:47 am - Reply

      Hey Lindsay – It’s not vital but I just prefer to use a pdf document as to me, it looks a little neater and more official when in that format. It’s probably not a huge difference but it doesn’t hurt either I guess.

  83. lindsay June 17, 2013 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Hey Earl
    Great advice thanks & happy travels.

    Cheers Linz

  84. Dizzy May 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    I ended up purchasing a transfer from Caribe Shuttle for $32 between the two cities I needed to travel between- Bocas Del Toro and Puerto Viejo. It was actually maybe $2 more than DIY- which COULD be cheaper, it would just depend on whether or not you happened to be able to do a share taxi or not on the Panama side. It’s also way quicker- left Bocas at 8:30, was in Puerto Viejo 10:20 CR time. Super easy border crossing! Make sure you have your $3 exact change for the exit and you’re good to go.

    I was checked 4 times for proof of exiting Panama and my Caribe Shuttle voucher was accepted with no problem.

  85. Micah May 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm - Reply

    This sounds like a great idea, but it wouldn’t have worked with the situation I had today. I’m going to Thailand for over 30 days, and the agent wanted to see proof of onward travel. I’d never experienced it before, so I went on the Airasia app and bought a ticket to Cambodia. I showed the agent the confirmation number and itinerary, but she was adamant to see a ticket number (which most low-budget airlines don’t provide). I couldn’t get on the flight, and have been on the phone with Delta personnel for hours trying to figure out how to get on my newly rescheduled flight. Have you run into this problem of needing the ticket number? If they ask for it, could they verify it (I highly doubt it), and what would be the best way to overcome it. Thanks!

    • Wandering Earl May 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Hey Micah – That’s the first I’ve heard of a ticket number being needed so I’m not sure what to do in that situation. Maybe someone else has had that experience and can chime in…

  86. Aaron May 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Hey Earl,
    I just wanted to relay a story on this. I just got back from a 10 day trip to Spain. My outbound United flight was canceled due to the sequester. United re-booked me on Delta for the outbound flight, but kept my United flight for the return. When I showed up to the ticket counter in Indy, the Delta agent asked me for my return flight info. I told her it was a one-way on Delta and she said I couldn’t fly without a return ticket. I told her how I’d been re-booked and she asked for my return United ticket number. I gave it to her and she looked it up in the computer and told me it was invalid. United changed my ticket number with all of the flight changes that went on. I had to walk to the United counter, get my new ticket number and have Delta verify it before they would issue me a boarding pass. Not sure how much this is done elsewhere, but they can (and in my case did) verify the ticket number was valid for a US departure. Looks like refundable return ticket is the safest bet these days.

  87. DetroitMuscle May 5, 2013 at 3:07 am - Reply

    For anyone traveling around Asia….. offers cheap one way flights out of Bangkok airport….

    Even if you don’t have plans to use the ticket you buy, a 50$ 1 way ticket from Bangkok to Phnom Penh, Cambodia can easily save you headache, and the potential legal troubles of producing false documents to airline staff and especially Embassy employees.

    I am moving to Cambodia and I was worried about being asked for proof, since I am obviously on a 1 ticket ( With no visa, doing Visa on Arrival). I just bought a 41$ from Air Asia from Phnom Penh to KL, Malaysia…… maybe I will use it if I am not working….. maybe not. Either way, it was 41$ and piece of mind.

    I was thinking of making a fake ticket, but then I thought about my connecting flight from LAX being in Shanghai, China. As an American, I shuddered at the thought of being “caught” trying to pass off fake documents to a Chinese Airline Employee or Government Immigration officer.

    Just my 2 cents.

  88. Fred April 20, 2013 at 4:52 am - Reply

    I’m just contemplating whether I should use your method Wandering Earl and fly from Hong Kong to Thailand on an edited ticket from the past, or take the bus from south China to Vientiane and get the Thai visa there.

    The problem with my ticket from 2 years ago is that nowhere is anything printed that it’s confirmed (the Thai consulate here in south China requires proof of a confirmed onward ticket). Do you have any suggestion how to handle that? Perhaps the consulate people are more diligent with checking the ticket than the airline personnel? As I see it, there are two obstacles: the consulate or embassy people who require proof of onward flight ticket, and the airline personnel. If there is a phone number to the travel agent in Bangkok who issued the flight ticket, it’s possible the consulate/embassy people call them up and ask about my flight ticket.

    So the consulate/embassy people definitely will want to have adequate proof of that the flight ticket also is confirmed and paid. I’m not sure about the airline personnel, would they also require to see it’s confirmed?

    • Fred April 20, 2013 at 5:05 am - Reply

      Actually, I found a better flight ticket from MakeMyTrip where this text is printed:

      Your Booking Confirmation Number is …

      Amount paid by XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX

      And the logo for Thai Airways is also printed.

      Shouldn’t that definitely be accepted by both consulate/embassy people and the airline personnel?

  89. Dizzy April 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    I’m flying into Panama next week and spending 2 weeks there, then traveling via bus to Costa Rica, where I will fly out of. Are they going to be picky about this? I’m not sure how to buy a bus ticket online (where I’m coming from involves water taxis and local buses), also my onward flight from Costa Rica is on the same airline.

    • Phillip May 8, 2013 at 2:40 am - Reply

      Hi Dizzy, did you figure out what you’re going to do? I bought one-way tickets into Costa Rica. I will be catching a bus to Nicaragua the same day I arrive in Costa Rica. Have you found a good way to buy the bus tickets online?

  90. Drago March 31, 2013 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    I bought a ticket from Peru to Brasil with a S.American web agent, and received a confirmation email. Showed up at the airport, and discovered that they had automatically cancelled my ticket. They sent a follow-up email (which I did not see until later) asking me to contact the company, which I never did.

    I flew from Canada to Ecuador with a one-way ticket, and was harrassed by the ticket lady. After unsuccessfully arguing that I had entered the previous year with a one-way ticket and Ecuador did not mind, she told me about how the airlines can get fined, so I told her I am going to go buy a ticket online, walked away, came back, and lied to her that I had a ticket on my computer but my battery was exhausted (or something like that). She clearly did not want to cause me trouble but neither wanted to breach her obligations. She seemed to believe my story and let me pass.

    Unnecessary stress, next time I will use this tip.

    Found this tool online too:

  91. Shivan March 20, 2013 at 6:34 am - Reply

    Great site Earl…

    I am a Canadian in Holland about to get my tourist visa for Brazil and the Consulate in Rotterdam requires I show proof of onward travel to approve my visa.

    I can find no site that shows a confirmation before the CC payment goes through… and I have yet to find an airline that offers a fully refundable fare without charging several hundreds of dollars which taxes my travel budget to the max.

    Not sure what to do next.. Have spent many hours online looking for a solution…

    Any advice appreciated… thanks!

    • Wandering Earl March 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm - Reply

      Hey Shivan – I’m sure there has to be some airline that offers such a refundable fare. If not, you could also look into buying a refundable bus ticket or ferry ticket to another country and then ask the consulate if that works.

      • Shivan March 21, 2013 at 5:06 am - Reply

        The only way I can see to buy a bus ticket online from outside Brazil is from ‘brazilbybus’ and you can only pay for your ticket with PayPal.

        • Jeff March 21, 2013 at 8:31 am - Reply

          Do you have an old e-ticket saved in your email archives? If so, just open it in MS Word or a similar program and edit the details to match a real flight you can easily research online. When I got my Brasil visa (in Argentina), they did ask for the proof of onward travel and then spent about 1/2 second looking at it.

  92. Travel with Bender (Erin) February 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    That is so strange, we travelled all over SE Asia for 7 months leaving Perth, Australia and were never asked for a onward ticket, which we didn’t have. You must of had a grumpy agent. Sometimes also just showing a house or hotel booking in another country can qualify as well and its easy to cancel an Agoda booking 🙂

    • Wandering Earl February 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Hey Erin – That’s the thing, it’s not consistent. I just flew to Mexico three days ago and I wasn’t asked either. But when I was checking in at the airport in the US, the woman next to me was on the same flight and they asked her for proof of an onward ticket!

  93. HG February 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm - Reply

    Love it.
    So you are not concerned at all that they will validate or verify the ticket, somehow?

    I suppose they don’t have the time or wherewithal..

    I did something similar on the land crossing from Costa Rica to Panama. I stopped short of alteration, though…

    • Wandering Earl February 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm - Reply

      Hey HG – I’ve never had anyone try to validate/verify it!

  94. Lauren February 11, 2013 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    After reading this I am now a lot better prepared on what to expect when traveling internationally with a one-way ticket. I was able to book a flight out of Thailand, print the itinerary, call to cancel the reservation within 24 hours and I got a full refund. Well, I shouldn’t speak too soon. The agency emailed me to say I would be getting a full refund in a weeks time. Would much rather be prepared with my itinerary than be watching my plane fly off.

  95. Nick Budden February 7, 2013 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Hey Earl,

    I just went through this process and it was a great idea, but a bit of a pain the but changing all the dates / flight numbers etc. I’m a programmer so I was thinking that I could make a generator where you just put in the dates/locations, then it looks up a real flight that fits your criteria and generates a fake ticket for you. But I just wanted to ask…how many people have you met that do this? I don’t really want to spend too much time making it if not too many people’ll want to use it…

    • Wandering Earl February 13, 2013 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Hey Nick – There are definitely plenty of people who need to do this but I will say that these days, it is becoming easier to just purchase a fully refundable onward ticket and then as soon as you arrive in your destination, hop online and get the refund. So that is another option and one that I think a lot of people are switching to simply because it is easier.

  96. Michelle January 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    The exact same thing happened to me when I was transiting through Australia on my way to finish my working holiday visa in New Zealand. VAustralia changed my flight from LA at the last minute and I got stuck with an 11-hour layover in Brisbane without an onward ticket to Christchurch. I had to get it issued in Brisbane, rather than LA. The Aussie gate agents wanted to see my proof of onward travel from NZ, which I didn’t have because I had a working holiday visa. They weren’t going to let me on the plane. Luckily, I had a copy of my working holiday visa conditions, which stated that I didn’t need to have an onward ticket. Next time, I am going to purchase a fully refundable fare.

    Great article.

  97. […] before we enter. If you are concerned then you could also try creating your own onward ticket—Wandering Earl tells you […]

  98. Jane January 8, 2013 at 4:26 am - Reply

    Thank you, Derek ( I love the name, let me call you that!)

    I will try the confirmation thing because I am SICK of this ticketing debacle! I wonder of they are onto it yet, or if they even care. I am writing about this myself: Not only do I prefer overland travel but I don’t like buying plane tickets till the last minute – anything can happen, especially if you happen to be in Syria/Japan/Israel/Australia and disaster strikes.

    I wish there was a solution. It seems like a perfect arrangement for the airlines.

  99. Jennifer December 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm - Reply

    Great idea! I was wondering though, you have no confirmation number on your ticket, it this normal? Have you ever been asked about this?

    • Wandering Earl December 28, 2012 at 9:22 am - Reply

      Hey Jennifer – I’ve never been asked for a confirmation number and they have always been happy seeing the ‘booking number’ instead. So far so good!

  100. Tim December 15, 2012 at 7:13 am - Reply

    I managed to get my ticket, but spent 10 euro to get internet to make sure I wasn’t going to be turned around. Now sprinting off to catch my flight! Thanks.

  101. gina November 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Also, can the “fake” ticket be a one-way? Or does it have to be R/T into and out of the “fake” destination?

    • Wandering Earl November 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      Hey Gina – The ticket needs to be one-way as they want to see that you are not coming back to the country…they want to make sure that you are leaving so a one-way ticket is the only way to show that.

  102. Mon November 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Great idea ! I’m going to sigapour in one month cause a friend of mine is living there I don’t need visa but I can stay only for a period of 30days I would like to stay a
    Little more but obviously not for living there …. As I can see that you’re practically an expert traveler, what would you recommend me to do maybe buying a flight ticket to phillipines or malaysia but I consider I little bit dumb buying a ticket plane for malaysia where you can just passes by bus or something like that but if I dont buy it I’m scared they will be asking for the onward ticket , what do you think ? Thanks!!:)

  103. Irv September 1, 2012 at 8:08 am - Reply

    Hi This sounds great and helpful,with all these experiences too from everyone. However Im worried about the possibility of them checking and what could happen if they found out. Would I be safe if still home in UK at check-in desk?
    I have travelled alot without onward tickets and only once stopped at Gatwick before a flight to Mexico. The airline simply changed the date of my return and told me to phone and get it changed back again (free) once I got to Mexico.

    I didnt know bus/train tickets might not be acceptable!

    Im going to Brazil in November and need to get an onward ticket first. Any suggestions? How do I buy a flight ticket from Brazil to Peru/Argentina and be sure its refundable?

    • Earl September 2, 2012 at 2:37 am - Reply

      Hey Irv – They could check but in the end, that’s why you want to make sure your ‘return ticket’ is issued from a different airline so that they can’t just look it up in their computer. However, these days, it is quite easy to find refundable fares (usually every flight search engine has a ‘refundable fare’ box you can check off) so you can just buy one of those and once you land, jump online and refund the ticket. For your upcoming trip, just look at a website such as or any of the specific website for the airlines that fly that route to Peru/Argentina. I’m quite sure they will have refundable ticket options.

  104. tom July 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    i think sites like expedia & travelocity are on to this. You can’t get any confirmation until
    AFTER your payment.
    Earl do you have any old confirmations you might share?
    I’m looking to travel to thailand soon.
    I’ve been in n out of se asia for 20 yrs.,lived in bangkok & now it’s getting more
    and more difficult to fly one way. Getting a tourist visa in LA now requires showing a
    copy of your outbound airline ticket & a bank statement showing a minimum of
    $500.. Amazing Thailand
    btw: i love your website..THANKS Earl

    • Earl August 2, 2012 at 3:39 am - Reply

      Hey Tom – I’d prefer not to share my flight confirmations but that’s interesting what you’ve wrote. I think it must depend on the Embassy/Consulate as I’ve yet to be asked for any information at all when applying for a tourist visa, which I’ve done many times. The other thing you can do is just buy a refundable ticket from Bangkok to somewhere close by and as soon as you print out the confirmation, you can refund it. Or to be safer you can wait until you arrive in Thailand to hop online and get the refund. That’s probably even easier than my method but when I wrote this it was more difficult to find refundable fares…now it’s quite easy!

  105. Matt July 5, 2012 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Hey this is a great idea. I found this searching for fully refundable one way tickets. My predicament is as follows: I am going to Spain, going to formalize my relationship with my Spanish girlfriend, which will give me residency. So I am moving to Spain. Obviously I want a one way ticket, but I won’t have permission to be there more than 90 days until after I get there. I unfortunately don’t have any previous tickets to alter, but I think your alternative option seems fine. I’m an American, flying out of St. Louis, with a layover in Toronto, arriving in Madrid through Air Canada. My question for you is, should my “return ticket” be out of Madrid, another Spanish city, or another European city? Or does it really matter. I was thinking it makes sense to use Madrid, because that’s where I arrived, but then again it seems fishy that I have two one-ways from two different companies. Any thoughts on this?


    • Earl July 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm - Reply

      Hey Matt – It doesn’t matter at all where your return ticket is out of, as long as it’s out of a city in Spain. You could also probably get by with a ticket out of another European country but you’ll have much fewer hassles if the ticket is out of Barcelona or Madrid.

  106. Arianwen May 4, 2012 at 6:26 am - Reply

    I’ve been wondering about this dilemma for a while as I’m flying into Bogota and out of Rio 7 months later, with overlanding in between. It’s a great idea and I’ll probably do it – although I’m convinced I’ll end up in a Bolivian prison for fraud! …There’s always one who stuffs it up! 🙂

    • Earl May 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      Hey Arianwen – Good luck! Although, another option now is to simply buy a fully refundable onward ticket and once you arrive in Bogota you can go online and have it all refunded.

    • Maxime July 28, 2012 at 11:41 pm - Reply


      How did that go? I am flying 1 way to Bogota as well this fall!

  107. Alex March 21, 2012 at 3:59 am - Reply

    I’m flying from Australia to Vietnam with Jetstar in the end of april.
    Has anyone made experiences with Jetstar and this fake onward ticket? I guess Australia is probably stricter than some other “developing” countries.
    I’ve heard airlines can use programs such as “Amadeus” to check flight tickets whether they’re valid or not. However, I think no check-in lady would use that as it takes more time…

    @Earl: Do you have any recently bought etickets from expedia or travelocity, which I can use to create my own ticket? Just because of the fact you mentioned above, that it looks better.

    Thanks a lot 🙂

    • Earl March 21, 2012 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Hey Alex – I’ve done it once with Jetstar and didn’t have any problem. And it’s almost a certainty that they will ask you for a return ticket when you check in! I’ve never had anyone check the validity of my flight tickets before but I guess it’s always a possibility.

      As for recent tickets, send me an email and I’ll see what I can find.

  108. Adam Mayfield March 14, 2012 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Great info! Found this post via a Google search for onward travel options. I never thought of this! This could have solved a lot of problems last time I was in Thailand.

    • Earl March 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      Hey Adam – This method will definitely help save you from any more issues…I’ve been issue-free in terms of onward travel proof since I began using it myself 🙂

  109. Ian [EagerExistence] March 5, 2012 at 12:54 am - Reply

    Very sneaky indeed Earl.
    I’m going to have to reference this in an upcoming post 🙂
    I’ve just found out I need proof of onward travel in Ecuador.

    Once upon a time I was at the border between France and the UK, at 4am, on a bus, and the officer wouldn’t let me through because I had no onward ticket and no hostel booked. I managed to beg for almost an hour, and get through. But I had proof of a few thousand dollars in the bank. I mean, how hard is it to book a hostel and a flight out (if you have the money). By having a “real” itinerary, they take all the fun out of adventure (and one-way) travel. I managed to get into the UK by 7am, and had a hostel by noon… even though the first 3 I tried were booked. Not rocket science.

    • Earl March 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm - Reply

      Hey Ian – Luckily, now it’s also quite easy to purchase fully-refundable flight tickets online and then, after you cross the border, just jump back on line and cancel the ticket. I prefer this method these days as it’s a little more legitimate 🙂

  110. […] Proof of Onward Travel a Story and a Solution | Wandering EarlJun 3, 2010 You've just spent two months traveling around Australia and now you're about to spend another two […]

  111. Leif October 5, 2011 at 7:02 am - Reply

    Haha, this is a great technique Earl. Michael James sent me your post. I just got detained for 6 hours at UK immigration because I didn’t have an onward ticket. From now on, Im using your method.

    • Earl October 6, 2011 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Hey Leif – I think most of us do end up learning this lesson the hard way 🙂 At least UK immigration let you in (I assume). Some people have been turned away, missed flights or had to shell out big money to buy a last minute return flight!

  112. John August 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    You can use purchase a bus ticket out of the country or a ferry ticket. I have done both of these and the airline didn’t even question it. I used the bus ticket option when I went to South Africa and I used the ferry ticket when I went to Argentina.I always purchase full fare tickets, so that I can change the time or get a refund if something comes up. In either case I did end up changing the times in SA and getting a refund in Argentina.

    • Earl August 13, 2011 at 2:29 am - Reply

      Hey John – That’s excellent advice although I’m not sure it will work everywhere. I did try to show an onward bus ticket to Malaysia one time when checking in for a flight to Thailand and the airline still wouldn’t accept it. But I imagine that in most places it should work. After all, not everyone flies in and out of every country!

      • John August 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm - Reply

        Thanks for the feedback! I am in the process in going to Malaysia from Taiwan and I was going to buy a buy bus ticket to Thailand, but it sounds like that won’t work. I am curious if a train ticket would work. Do you know or have you heard if this works?

        • Earl August 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm - Reply

          Hey John – It might work for Malaysia. I just ran into trouble when I had a bus ticket to Malaysia when I was flying to Thailand. Perhaps in reverse there will be no issues. And I’m not sure about using a train ticket but I’d be curious about that as well. Either way, please let us know how you manage to go so that we can all learn from you experience 🙂

  113. […] know when to fold ‘em, so I said forget this. I learned something big though – this guy has it right. I will do this next time. After all, only the airline usually has to be fooled. The […]

  114. Dave May 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm - Reply

    After 9 months traveling and flying around Asia without a problem, I arrived on the African continent for the first time, via Cape Town, and wasn’t allowed entry due to my lack of onward ticket out of the country (I was keeping my options open to exit overland).

    The only ticket counter open (it was about 8 or 9pm) was British Air, and they only offered 2 routes. I was going to Egypt anyways, so I booked a flight from Joburg to Cairo, but British Air wouldn’t help me unless I also bought a ticket for one of their flights. I ended up getting a flight from Cape Town to Joburg which I never used.

    A very stressful way to arrive on a new continent, and in a new country! Going to try your tips going forward.

    • Earl May 23, 2011 at 12:24 am - Reply

      Hey Dave – Wow, I’d never actually heard of anyone being turned away (or almost being turned away) upon arrival to a foreign country. I’ve always been questioned while checking in for my flight. But whether it happens before you leave or once you arrive, it is always a big headache to deal with. This method seems to take care of that stress so I hope it works for you as well as it has worked for me!

  115. Kristen June 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    And if this doesnt work, wouldnt u get in A LOT of touble

    • Earl June 25, 2010 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Hey Kristen – There’s always a risk with anything such as this, but in the end, it always seems that airline agents just want to see a piece of paper and that’s about it. I’ve really never had anyone, either an airline agent or an immigration officer, spend more than 5 seconds looking at my flight confirmation. This is one of those rules that, while it may be enforced every now and then, is rarely taken too seriously.

      And if they do somehow discover that it’s not a real confirmation, I have no idea what would happen as I’ve yet to hear about this happening to anyone. But again, there is always a risk and with it, the potential for some trouble.

  116. JB June 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm - Reply

    I have used this trick successfully myself, when going back and forth between Costa Rica and Panamá. How strict the onward travel requirement is depends on whether you are crossing by air or land and by the relevant immigration officials. For example, I crossed at two different borders into Panama and one is very strict the other not very. With regard to air travel, what many people have written in the Lonely Planet forums is that the responsibility is actually the airline’s NOT immigration and that is why you get stopped at the counter. Apparently they get a fine if they allow someone to board without proof of onward travel.
    .-= JB´s last blog ..Sailing San Blas (Panamá) to Cartagena (Colombia) aboard the Sacanagem =-.

    • Earl June 10, 2010 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Hey JB – That’s an excellent point. The pressure is often on the airline staff as opposed to the immigration officials. I’ve heard about that fine as well and if that’s how it works, I can perfectly understand the airlines enforcing this rule. And your experience in Panama is also another good example of the need to be prepared – one country, two different borders, two different rules.

  117. Financial Samurai June 8, 2010 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Never knew about this Earl! Do they still do this?? I guess I can understand why. Good trick to know!
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The NBA Finals Proves Location Matters For Success =-.

    • Earl June 8, 2010 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Hey Sam – They definitely still do this. Last year I was asked for proof upon entering Australia and a friend of mine ran into the same problem when he flew to Indonesia a couple of months ago. The problem is that you just never know when you’re going need the proof, so these days I prepare a confirmation no matter where I am going.

  118. Dina June 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Great story! I can’t imagine how panic I will be in your situation.
    Cool trick you have up there, never thought of that 🙂
    I have to admit that I’m spoiled because Ryan is the one that handles ticketing between us. I think usually we get refundable ticket that cancellation can be done via internet, but we haven’t been crossing plenty of guarded borders (no check point between EU countries and that was where we were for a long time). I think this onward ticket requirement is somewhat meaningless. I mean, as you say, as we do, people can just buy refundable ticket and refund it. Even airline agent suggested you that, defeated the reason why onward travel proof is required. Rules are made to be bent, eh 🙂
    .-= Dina´s last blog ..Top 3 Modes of Transportation by Travelers Around the World =-.

    • Earl June 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      Hey Dina – It is a little silly to have a rule that people can so easily get around. Although the overwhelming majority of people that enter one of these countries will have a return ticket. It is just the overland travelers and those without much of a concrete itinerary who can get stuck! We’re definitely in the minority, but at least there’s a good trick to make sure our plans don’t get interrupted.

      And if you can find air tickets that can be refunded online, that is always a bonus. I have rarely found airlines that allow me to do that which is why I resort to the above trick. But having an actual refundable ticket would of course be the preferable method.

  119. Shannon OD June 7, 2010 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Oh man, you are brilliant I am SO going to print out tickets like this. Melbourne airport gave me the EXACT same problem flying into Thailand and it was the same headache of finding a ticket and then the pain and wait of wondering if you will truly ever get refunded. This ticket idea is pretty freakin brilliant Earl! 🙂

    • Earl June 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Hey Shannon – That’s crazy that you had the same experience in the same airport! Although I have heard that airports in Australia in general take these immigration rules (even upon exiting) a little more seriously than in other countries. But now you won’t have to deal with that again! I’m glad you find the trick useful…

  120. Jennifer Barry June 6, 2010 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Wow, this is something I’ve never heard of! I guess when I traveled overland in South America I always had that return ticket to Dallas so it never was a problem. This is a great tip.

    I was looking for your travel secrets ebook but I couldn’t find it. (Not the cruise one, the other one). Is it on this website?
    .-= Jennifer Barry´s last blog ..Chile: Land of Contrasts =-.

    • Earl June 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm - Reply

      Hey Jennifer – It is definitely something you don’t think about until you fly somewhere on a one-way ticket without knowing when you’ll be going home or moving on to the next country!

      And here’s the link to the Travel Secrets eBook. eBooks

      The 7 eBooks are all listed at the bottom of the page. Let me know if you run into any issues.

  121. brian June 5, 2010 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I wrote about the same problem a while back, because it happened to me going from Cambodia to Hong Kong via Thailand. Thai Air would not let me on the plane. Had to run thru the airport in Bangkok to print out my ticket.

    I really like your solution. It’s a bit of a pain but with the world the way it is, countries don’t want terrorists or freeloaders on one-way tickets.
    .-= brian´s last blog ..Why Do Travel Bloggers Blog? Because You Get Gifts Like This. =-.

    • Earl June 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      Hey Brian – I guess you clearly understand what I’m talking about then! And even if it’s a bit of a hassle to create one of these confirmations, it’s far less of a hassle than running through airports trying to book an onward flight at the very last possible moment. I personally don’t want to go through that scenario again if I can avoid it!

  122. Raam Dev June 5, 2010 at 2:05 am - Reply

    This is brilliant! Not only did I not know anything about onward tickets, but I love the fact that you’re hacking your way around a silly problem using social engineering. 🙂

    I’m headed to Kuala Lumpur in a few days, but I will be en route to Vietnam, so thankfully I will have an onward ticket.
    .-= Raam Dev´s last blog ..Video: Follow Your Inner Compass =-.

    • Earl June 5, 2010 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Hey Raam – It’s just such an easy solution to a potentially unfortunate problem. And well worth the couple of minutes it takes to put a confirmation together. Have a safe journey to Vietnam and I’ll be looking forward to reading about your adventures in that part of the world!

  123. Emily June 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    How odd! I had never heard of this before. What a pain you had to go through to get that all sorted out! Yuck. But I’m glad I know this now, before I go there!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..How to Make Free International Calls With Your iPhone =-.

    • Earl June 5, 2010 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Hey Emily! Thanks so much for the comment! I think it’s quite common for there to be a long, drawn out refund process in many countries when it comes to getting your money back for a refundable ticket. And it is a pain when you have to spend your first few days running back and forth to airline offices in a new place that you’d much rather be exploring. So it makes sense to whip up a confirmation and avoid that hassle all together!

  124. Erin June 4, 2010 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Thanks for the tip – it is a worry as we are travelling indefinitely and never have onward tickets. So far we didn’t get asked coming in to Brazil and Argentina by plane and Paraguay overland. The rest of South America will be overland so I don’t think we’ll have a problem, although we should probably do this ticket thing to be on the safe side.

    • Earl June 5, 2010 at 9:10 am - Reply

      Hey Erin – That’s the thing, you just never know. Although I don’t think I’ve ever been asked for proof of onward travel when traveling overland. It’s as if they assume if you enter overland, you’ll be leaving overland and therefore don’t need proof you’re leaving. But if you’re entering by plane, they think you must be leaving by plane as well. The concept of an open-ended, overland journey is not one that immigration officials in many countries understand!

  125. rose June 4, 2010 at 7:41 am - Reply

    I’ve always used the second method too – I’ve found the check-in staff are usually just following orders but are not actually very keen on refusing people entry, so an itinerary, or a reservation for a flight were enough to get in to Malaysia, China and the Philippines. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some countries that are much stricter (and for some reason, my guesses are Canada and Australia…) so the ticket forgery is definitely an even safer bet!

    I have also come to the interesting realization that carrying a stuffed animal around, in any South-East Asian country, will almost definitely get you more smiles and better service on most airlines (and even more so if you are a guy!), though I don’t recommend it anywhere in the West if you want anyone to take you seriously!

    • Earl June 5, 2010 at 9:07 am - Reply

      Hey Rose – A stuffed animal? I imagine that would lead to more smiles and probably some pointing as well! I’m not sure I’m ready to take my childhood stuffed bear overseas yet but I’ll consider it before leaving on my next trip. Do you always travel with one particular stuffed animal?

      • rose June 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm - Reply

        Haha! No, I don’t always travel with the same stuffed animal. I bought one while in Thailand from a really inspiring local artist, and it was originally meant to be a gift but I ended up hanging on to her for the next 7 months of the trip, and even getting her some friends (some of which I have found homes by now). But apart from being very cute and being named Begonia, the thing is – she made a great neck pillow on buses and planes, so I always took her with me! And when my boyfriend carried her onto a flight, the filipino stewardesses practically melted all over him, and brought us all the fruit juice we could ever want : )

        But… I still don’t know if I’ll take her with me next time I leave. I guess I’ll have to ask her.

        • Earl June 5, 2010 at 8:49 pm - Reply

          Ok, that makes more sense. I just may have to give it a try, at least on my next flight overseas!

  126. Royce Fullerton June 4, 2010 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Wow, this trick never crossed my mind. I will be sure to remember to do it when I have the need next time. All of the gatekeepers are just doing their job and covering their ass, if you produce something that looks decent, who are they to say it is invalid?

    • Earl June 5, 2010 at 9:00 am - Reply

      Hey Royce – You’re right, nobody is really going to take the time to determine whether or not this official looking flight confirmation is real or not. If it looks real, that’s good enough for them. However, as mentioned above, make sure your onward ticket is with a different airline than the one you’re entering a country with. If it’s the same, they might try and look it up in their computer system and that’s really the only way for this plan to fail!

  127. Andi June 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    PS Did you ever get your $ back???
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..India: Day 3 (Part 4) =-.

    • Earl June 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm - Reply

      I did get the money back. True to their word, the credit appeared on my account about six weeks later!

  128. Andi June 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    This is so ridiculously brilliant!!!!!!!!! You should have charged people $10 to read this post, haha. Ahhh Jetstar, how I loathe the!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..India: Day 3 (Part 4) =-.

    • Earl June 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      Hey Andi – What? You had a bad Jetstar experience? (That was a joke.) Everyone I know that has used them has had a terrible experience. But the couple of times I’ve flown with them, everything went quite smoothly!

  129. T-roy June 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Dude, I was going to write a posts about this one day as well, because it’s what I do to. I use MS Word and re-work an old ticket to match what i need. I also have an old confirmation ticket that is written solo in English (which will confuse a lot of immigration people and they will just say “Ok!”) that is even easier to re-work.

    This is something that you must do after you start traveling a while, as you never know when the question will pop up. I know when i went to Malaysia they didn’t ask me about it but thank God while in London I had it, cause they weren’t going to let me into the country without showing proof of an outward ticket. Good posts man!
    .-= T-roy´s last blog ..Faces of Cuba: 008 =-.

    • Earl June 3, 2010 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      Sorry for beating you to it T-roy! That’s the thing, I was asked for proof in Malaysia and you weren’t. There just isn’t any consistency at all, so it’s always worth being prepared. And this is one easy way to do so, which is evident by how many people are already putting this trick into action.

      Enjoy your weekend!

  130. Liz June 3, 2010 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Excellent idea!

    That is a great solution (under my own risk of course hahaha).

    Thanks for the advice! And cant wait to read your next post.

    • Earl June 3, 2010 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks Liz. And I appreciate that you won’t hold me liable if it doesn’t work!

      • gina November 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm - Reply

        Hi! what actually would happen if they suspect it’s not real OR if they ask for more info? Is the worse case senario them just saying “i need more proof”? and if anything would you just be able to buy a last minute refundable (like you did)?

        • Wandering Earl November 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm - Reply

          Hey Gina – You can always buy a last minute refundable ticket and these days, more and more airlines are offering such tickets, so it might even make sense to just book one of these tickets from the start. Then you can show the actual confirmation when checking in and when you arrive in your destination, you can jump online, cancel the ticket and get the refund.

  131. El Guapo June 3, 2010 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Yeah, I’ve confronted this problem in my travels. Especially on a 1 way flight to Rio de Janeiro.

    I prefer using your #2 solution. It’s simpler. I just print a travelocity itinerary up until I need to purchase it. That should work 95% of the time. Caveat: also, make sure you print an itinerary from a different airline than the one you’re taking your one way flight from.
    So if you’re flying to Rio via TAM, your fake Rio->Buenos Aires itinerary should be via Aerolineas Argentinas or something else.
    .-= El Guapo´s last blog ..Living Series: Belo Horizonte, Brazil =-.

    • Earl June 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm - Reply

      Excellent point El Guapo. Actually, it is vital that you use a different airline or else the check-in staff might attempt to look it up in their computer system. If it’s another airline, they’ll just have to assume the confirmation is valid. Thanks for sharing that!

  132. Osborne June 3, 2010 at 10:21 am - Reply

    Awesome information and a great post. Thanks for the advice, this will most definitely help me in the future. Also, another country you can add to your list of places where you need a return ticket out is Canada.

    • Earl June 3, 2010 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Hey Osborne – Your experience in Canada is exactly what made me think about writing this post!

      • Osborne June 4, 2010 at 7:30 am - Reply

        Hey Earl – HAHA. Thank you, it is much appreciated. I haven’t gotten to do any traveling outside of the US yet (the Canadian issue didn’t help matters). But I have road tripped everywhere from Nevada to VA, up to NY, all through TX and everywhere in-between. I still need to make it out to the West Coast which I will be doing later this year. I try to stay away from the touristy type places that most travelers go to. I was wondering where you might suggest a good place to start my overseas adventures would be, especially if I travel alone.

        • Earl June 5, 2010 at 9:04 am - Reply

          Hey Osborne – I’m sure you’ll get to all of the places you want to visit, both in North American and beyond, at some point. And while choosing a good place to start traveling overseas is difficult, and depends a lot on what one is hoping to learn and experience, SE Asia is a often a great place to start. It’s relatively easy to get around, the countries are used to travelers passing through, the cultures are unique and fascinating and it’s quite cheap in that part of the world. But again, there are a lot of factors to consider before deciding where to go!

  133. Tweets that mention Proof of Onward Travel – a Story and a Solution | Wandering Earl -- June 3, 2010 at 10:46 am - Reply

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