how to reserve a flight without paying for visa application
Reserving a flight without paying – juststock (canva)

If you want to receive a visa or have already gone through the process before, you most likely know how confusing the whole process can be. You need to know exactly what documents you should submit and where you can get them. One which confuses many people is a request for a flight itinerary or return ticket. This can be requested by an embassy or consulate from the destination in order to grant a visa.

Perhaps you’re an inexperienced traveler and you’re already looking into some first time flying tips. On top of that, you have to be worried about getting a visa. It might be frustrating, but you can be sure your trip can be rewarding and worth all the fuss once you actually get moving.

In this article, you will find all the information that you need to know about booking a flight without paying for visa application purposes, along with some extra methods that do have a cost but give you a chance to recoup your costs if your application is denied.

What is a Dummy Flight Ticket?

A classic flight ticket is a document that is issued by a travel agency or an airline. It confirms that the traveler booked a flight. Tickets usually include information such as:

  • the name of the person who will travel.
  • the destination and number of the flight.
  • reservation number.
  • date and hour of departure and arrival.
  • the price of the ticket.
  • details of connecting flights (if applicable).

When it comes to a dummy flight ticket, you receive confirmation of a round-trip flight reservation. However, it is not a paid ticket as it only includes the itinerary’s details. Consulates and embassies can refer to this document to confirm the specifics of your trip.

How to Reserve a Flight Without Paying When Applying for a Visa

There are several ways to reserve a ticket for visa applications. You can purchase a ticket or reserve one with the airline. The second option doesn’t involve you spending any money or waiting for a refund.

However, most airlines only allow reservations to be kept for up to 3 days (72 hours), while the confirmation of a visa application can take up to two weeks. You will need to know how to make your reservation be kept by the airline for longer. Here are a few ways to do so:

  • United Airlines FareLock
  • Use a Travel Agent
  • Get Tickets with a Hold Option
  • Use Visa Reservation Websites

Use the FareLock Option from United Airlines

United Airlines, a company from Chicago, offers a service called FareLock. It’s a good way to get a travel itinerary for free. If you are booking through the United website, you can hold a fare for three to seven days. This is only available for United Airlines flights.

Ask Your Local Travel Agent to Book a Ticket

A good idea is to use your local travel agent to help you book a ticket for visa purposes. Even though you will have to pay a fee for the service rather than the flight, it’s worth it. Travel agencies can hold travel tickets for at least seven days, or even more. The most common price is 10% of the ticket price, but not always.

Hold Option Ticket

While it is not very common, there are airlines that offer an option to do flight reservation bookings. For a small fee (around 10-30 dollars) they can hold a ticket for you. Unfortunately, the hold time is quite short, as it usually only lasts for three days.

Some booking websites also have this option and will allow you to hold a reservation for free. This means that you can get an itinerary without paying right away.

While reserving your ticket, you should also check the best flight booking sites. Some of them might have the option of holding a ticket.

Visit Travel Visa Websites to Book the Ticket

If you use travel booking websites, you can reserve a flight without the necessity of paying the full price. You can use a website like Visa Reservations. You just need to choose a traveling package that suits your needs, add your flight and travel details, and cover the cost of the service fee. After the payment is confirmed, you will receive an email with the booking confirmation and flight details.

Reserve a Flexible Ticket at a Cost for Visa Application

No one wants to risk booking a ticket and then losing money if their visa is denied. However, there are some options that you can try where you will need to pay the full price but will have a flexible ticket. Here they are.

Purchase a Refundable Flight Ticket

Another way to book a flight to use on your visa application is by getting a refundable ticket. If you have spare cash or if the embassy or consulate says buying a ticket is mandatory, the safest way is to do it with a refundable ticket. If your visa application gets rejected, you can claim a refund. The biggest minus of this method is that refundable tickets are much more expensive than normal ones. Have a good read through the terms and conditions before you decide to book, as some airlines can charge a cancellation fee.

The time it takes to get your money back depends on the airline you choose, but it usually takes from a few days up to a few weeks. If you decide to book a refundable ticket, the best way is to do it through the official airline website, not through a third party, such as a travel agency.

Book a Transferable Ticket

Transferable tickets are similar to refundable ones, but can work out cheaper in some cases as the cost can be closer to a standard ticket. Instead of giving you a refund for your flight, the airline will let you change your destination and the date of travel. This is usually done without any additional fees. So, even if your visa is denied, you can take another trip to make up for it.

Be sure to check how flexible the airline is with its transfers. While some give you a year to reschedule, others only give you 60 days.

Buy Travel Insurance

Another possibility that will cost you the full price of the ticket but is more flexible is to buy travel insurance along with the flight. With the right policy, you can get a refund for the ticket in case you’re not able to fly. And not having a visa is definitely going to affect that.

Even if your application is accepted, you’ll still have the insurance in case another situation pops up.

Is It Possible to Get a Ticket Totally Free of Charge?

While some airlines give confirmed flight itineraries for free, they are quite rare. It’s more likely that you will be charged a small, symbolic amount and then receive a confirmation for the flight or a travel itinerary that you can then use for your visa application.

Is Using Fake Ticket Generators Worth the Risk?

You might come across some websites that generate a fake ticket. It’s best to avoid these sites when going through your visa application process. They generally have low costs for their services, but they create fake tickets using Photoshop or other graphic editing software to create ones that look real.

Seeing as the document will be fake, your application might be rejected and you can lose your chance of traveling. You can also hurt your chances of being accepted into the country you’re applying to in the future. Sticking to the options mentioned above is the best way to reserve your flight.

Is Buying a Ticket Before Applying for a Visa Necessary?

You don’t need to buy the ticket before applying for your visa, as you can use the methods from this article. But you will likely need some sort of confirmation or itinerary to go through the application process.

With a refundable ticket, you can get a refund if your application is denied. Of course, if your visa is approved, you can use the ticket you bought or exchange it for another one. And with a holding option, you will only have spent a small amount for the service fee rather than for an actual ticket.

Can I Have a One-Way Ticket While Applying for a Visa?

While some embassies may accept a one-way ticket, most of them will request a full itinerary that includes a return date. So it’s best to avoid one-way tickets when applying for a visa so that you can have a higher chance of getting it approved.

Why Do Embassies and Consulates Ask for Flight Tickets for a Visa?

Many embassies and consulates don’t ask specifically for a flight ticket. They are aware that in the case of the application being rejected, the applicant would lose their money. Sometimes you can find highlighted information that the embassy doesn’t expect a ticket but only a flight reservation.

This means you can decide what to do with the ticket after your visa is accepted or rejected. Even in the case of it being accepted, you can always book a flight with more convenient dates or a better price.

While only reserving a flight is a common practice, there might be some exceptions. The embassy or consulate can ask you to actually buy a return ticket before the visa interview. Why?

To Avoid People Overstaying

One of the main reasons why you might be asked to purchase a ticket is to make sure that you will not stay at the destination longer than your visa allows. It gives more security to the country that you will come back to your home country before the visa expires.

Of course, that means that you have to buy a return ticket. A one-way ticket wouldn’t be sufficient. Please remember that, unfortunately, buying an actual ticket is not a warranty that the embassy or consulate will accept your visa request. Do your best to submit all the requested documents to increase your chances of getting a visa.

To Decide How Long Your Visa Should Be Issued For

A ticket can help authorities decide how long your visa should be permitted for. Taking into consideration your flight itinerary, the embassy or consulate can issue a visa for the right amount of time, giving you security that it won’t be shorter than you expect.

To Which Embassy Should I Apply?

When traveling to a country, there is no doubt as to which embassy or consulate you should apply. Even if you’re traveling to several countries in a region, you should get a visa for each one.

The main exception is for the Schengen Area in Europe. You can travel through many countries but only need a visa for the one you are arriving to. For example, if you fly to Portugal then travel through Spain and France, you will only need to apply for a visa to arrive in Portugal.

It’s best to make a plan on where you want to travel, then confirm which countries have consulates or embassies in your country of residence. That way you can have a better idea of how easy it will be to apply for a visa.

Which Countries Require a Ticket Itinerary When Applying for a Visa?

The best way to know the answer to this question is by checking official websites. The rules might change depending on the security situation in each place, so be sure to always keep up to date with all the required documents to increase your chances of getting your visa accepted.

At the moment, some of the countries that require a return trip flight itinerary to get a visa are Canada, Japan, Algeria, Brazil, Thailand, New Zealand, Turkey, China, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and the Schengen member states.


Applying for a visa can be a tough situation, especially when you need to have a confirmed flight itinerary. But by using the methods in this article, you can get a ticket for free (or for a small service fee) that you can use during the process. Refundable tickets are also an option and can give you flexibility whether your application is accepted or not. No matter what your situation is, you don’t need the high costs of plane tickets to get in the way of your visa application

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