Sir, Do You Have a Return or an Onward Ticket?


Though you still need certain permissions from oppressive governments to travel abroad, it has become easier than ever before. Especially if you come from European Union. Most of the countries will grant you, as a "trustworthy" EU citizen, a free visa-exempt entry.

It means you are able to enter the country for any period of up to 180 days (it depends on the country and your passport). All you need to do is fly to the country and get your passport stamped at the immigration counter. Of course, that wouldn’t be a government if it made things that easy, right?

In order to get a visa-exempt stamp, you need to prove you have enough money to support your stay in the country. It never happened to me personally, but I had the following question asked  every time:

Hey Sir, do you have a return or an onward ticket?

Dafuq?

The good thing is, government workers are lazy parasites so you’re asked this question by the airline staff at your departure airport instead. This way you (they) can make sure you will never get stuck at arrivals and you also get a chance to buy a last-minute ticket to meet their requirements.

Did I mention they won’t let you onboard without this ticket?

If you’re going for a short trip this might not bother you at all because you probably already have the ticket. But if you’re a traveler the chances are you have no idea when (and if) you’ll return back to your home country.

Sure, you may tell them the old lie that you will leave the country by a bus/boat/elephant, but if the country is surrounded by a sea as it’s my case with Taiwan, you’d be stupid to use this line.

Get a refundable ticket

One of the safest bets is to buy a ticket that can be canceled and refunded before the flight if you choose not to show on board. This way you can get a return/onward ticket, show it to the airline staff, and cancel it right after you pass the immigration in the country of your arrival.

How to find cheap flights online using Matrix

I advise you to go through this list of airlines (change the destination based on your situation) to check for airlines that operate in the country of arrival. At least in Asia, most of the airlines are open to (full) refunds if you choose to purchase their more expensive fare.

Sure it costs some money up front and I suppose getting a refund takes months, but it’s the price you pay if you like to do things the legal way.

There’s also another way. However, it’s on the edge of the law.

I’m in no way responsible if you try this method and get caught!

Fake your reservation

Airline staff only needs to see an email confirmation of the ticket reservation, so I’ll show you how to make one.

The document consists of your name, departure and arrival airport, date and two numbers. One is your reservation number and another one is E-ticket number.

I would strongly advise you to delete the E-ticket number and act dumb when they ask you for it.

To me, it looks like there’s a centralized system where they can look up this number. However, this is not the case with a reservation number which is then, in my opinion, safe to fake.

Find the real flight

You need to make the reservation look as genuine as possible.

Head over to Google Flights and find any flight that matches ALL of the following criteria:

  1. the flight departs from the country you are about to visit (obvious, but just to make sure)
  2. the flight departs at least 1 day before your visa-exempt stay will expire
  3. the airline you’re looking for isn’t the part of the same airline alliance as the one that checks for your return/onward ticket

The reason for the last criteria is so they can’t call their partner airline and check whether your reservation is real or fake. This is very important!

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Make a note of the marked information above you will need it to fake your reservation confirmation document.

Create new reservation

There are many ways to do this, but I think using an old reservation is the safest option.

You can either edit the existing PDF file using any PDF editor available (mostly paid) or mimic the file in your office suite (MS Office, Libre Office, Pages on OS X etc) or Photoshop.

No matter which path you go you need to make sure the document contains all of the details below:

  1. reservation number (create a random 6 digit string)
  2. your name
  3. contact information (email, phone)
  4. real flight information (departure and arrival airport and terminal, dates and times, airline info, flight number etc)

Below is my real reservation and fields you NEED to edit.

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Remember to make it look as real as you can.

If you feel that Google doesn’t provide you with enough information (e.g. Terminals) you might look for more flight info on sites like Flight Aware (link to the real flight I chose in the previous example).

Tips & tricks

  1. Always look confident and get mentally prepared for being approached by the airline staff.
  2. Act dumb when they ask all kinds of questions. The reservation you will show them is "the only thing you got emailed".
  3. You have no idea why the document doesn’t have any E-ticket number. Remember the previous tip.
  4. NEVER (and I really mean it) show this fake reservation to the immigration worker. Showing a fake document to the airline staff is fine, but trying to fool the government worker can get you in serious trouble.
  5. Go to the counter with an immigration officer wearing a mask (applies mostly to Asia). They tend not to speak at all.

Have you ever tried this method? Did it work for you? Do you know other methods? Let me know in the comments below.

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