Don’t Make This Rookie Mistake Booking International Trips…
For most travellers, you’ll never face an issue like this. But if you’re one of those people that like to visit multiple cities, countries and destinations in one trip, and occasionally pieces things together as they go – listen up. Many countries will deny you from boarding your flight if you cannot prove onward travel. While that may sound straightforward, sometimes it’s not.
Proof of onward travel, put simply, means that you need to show a valid e-ticket or form of confirmed transportation that has you leaving the country you intend to visit. It doesn’t matter if you have flights from other countries down the road back to wherever you live, all that matters is that you have proof of leaving that specific place.
For example: Let’s say you want to visit Singapore and Hong Kong before heading back home. You aren’t quite sure how long you’ll be in Singapore, or which flight you’d like to take, so you book flights from your home to Singapore and then from Hong Kong home. You plan to see how things go and then book an onward flight to Hong Kong.
It all sounds great, but it’s not allowed.
Many countries (including Singapore) will not allow you entry without being able to show proof when you check in for your flight that you have an onward ticket from that specific country. If you don’t, you’ll need to book a ticket then and there, or risk missing your flight entirely, at your own expense.
With points and miles becoming mainstream and opportunities to land great last minute deals everywhere, people are more relaxed about travel than ever.
Many people also prefer to play things by ear, or see how things go with work meetings or friends before getting locked into a non refundable reservation. Consider this as fair warning that it’s crucial to check the entry requirements for the place you’re visiting before showing up at the airport.
Last year, I was forced to purchase an expensive ticket back from New Zealand to Australia before I was allowed to check in for my New Zealand flight for this exact reason. I had confirmed onward flights from Australia back to the USA, but I wasn’t sure exactly how many days I’d be in New Zealand, so I left it open-ended.
It was a rookie mistake and cost significant money to rectify. Worse, I could’ve missed my New Zealand flight entirely. What makes this all so tricky is that enforcement varies by airline and country. Some have policies stating that you’ll need proof, but you never get asked. Others don’t have it stated clearly anywhere, but then the airline demands that you do.
The moral of the story here is that you should always have confirmed onward travel anywhere you go, with all the little connecting flights booked too. If you still want some flexibility, credit card points and airline miles really are your friend.
If you can make a confirmed reservation using points, you can often cancel or change at little or no penalty (think $35), whereas buying a cash ticket can mean forfeiting the entire thing if you don’t want to use it. Confirming a points reservation allows you to put an inexpensive place holder that gets you into the country while you sort out final details of when and where to go next.
Obviously, you can never overstay a visa or entry permit, but if you’re talking about 5 days versus 6, this is awesome. You can then book your last minute flight however you wish, or change plans on the fly if a neat opportunity comes up. On that note, leaving an empty day for whatever comes your way is one of the best travel tips on the internet.