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Before I got my Green Card, I was lucky enough to have an extended tourist visa for the U.S., which allowed me to stay 180 days at a time instead of the regular 90 days travelers are usually granted. I would usually fly to the States in the spring, planning to max out my visa, and it was rare that I knew upon entering the U.S. where I’d be going when it was time for me to leave. Planning six months ahead is something that most people who travel long-term just don’t do, myself included. And luckily, I was always able to enter the U.S. without an onward ticket.
Until the day I was not. I was standing in line at the check-in counter in Copenhagen, impatiently waiting for the passengers before me to finish their check-in process so that I could check in for my flight to Los Angeles. I was late because the airline had changed the time of the flight, which was now leaving thirty minutes earlier. I had forgotten to change the time in my calendar, and now here I was, hoping I’d get be able to make my flight.
When it was finally my turn, the check-in agent asked me ‘Can I see your return ticket?’ and I explained that I didn’t have a return ticket, let alone knew where I’d be traveling six months from now. ‘I’m sorry, ma’am, then I cannot let you board the flight today.’ What followed, was a nightmare. The discussion about how I’d traveled to the U.S. several times on this visa and never had to show proof of onward travel. (It turned out that it was at the airline’s discretion to ask for proof of onward travel). The desperate attempt to book an onward ticket on my phone. Since I didn’t have a Danish SIM card, I was using the airport WiFi and it would cut out every time I was asked to put in my credit card details.
I started the process all over again, my hands shaky, knowing I was running out of time, when the clerk told me ‘I am sorry, check-in for the flight to L.A. is closed now.’ I felt how tears started running down my cheeks. The airline was Norwegian, and I knew that they only had a couple of flights per week from Copenhagen to Los Angeles. I was stuck in Denmark. And all because I didn’t have an onward ticket.I wish I’d known about One Way Fly back then. For only $19, I could’ve saved myself the mental stress this incident caused me, and the costs of having to sleep in Copenhagen, get myself booked on another flight, and losing the money for the non-refundable room I’d paid for in L.A.
And if you think that the U.S. with its strict immigration rules is an exception – no, unfortunately more and more countries want to see proof of onward travel.
Eight months after I was stranded in Copenhagen’s airport, my friend and I found ourselves at JFK Airport in New York, excited for our trip to Colombia. She checked in first, no problems whatsoever. When it was my turn, however, I heard the same question I’d been asked in Denmark not too long ago: ‘Can I see proof of onward travel, please?’. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t expect to be asked for a return ticket – this was Colombia after all. My friend had been able to show her return ticket, because she would fly back to New York after a couple of days.
But me? I had no return ticket, and no idea where I’d even be 90 days later. All I had were a couple of options in my head: I might make my way all the way to the south of Colombia and cross overland into Ecuador. Or, if Colombia turned out too sketchy for a solo female traveler, I’d hop on a catamaran to Central America. Neither of these options would require a plane ticket though, and who knew if I didn’t end up doing something completely different (I did – I ended up flying to Mexico).When this happened, I was only able to board the plane thanks to my friend, who hastily booked a refundable plane ticket for me on her smartphone. Without her, I would have been stranded yet again, because my credit card has a credit limit of $300, and refundable tickets are usually a lot more than that.
I have since been asked for proof of onward travel when I traveled to Vietnam, Thailand, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Israel and Cuba. I don’t remember being asked for my flight out of the country when I started traveling full-time, and honestly, I barely ever knew where I’d travel next. But it seems that these days, most countries want to make sure you will leave again, and that’s why One Way Fly is so genius.
One Way Fly provides you with an actual onward ticket – I am pointing out that it is an actual ticket because I’ve heard of people forging fake airline tickets, but be warned: when you get caught with a fake ticket, you can get blacklisted and banned from entering the country forever. For people like me who have a very credit limit or don’t have a credit card at all, One Way Fly is a life safer. I’m happy to spend twenty bucks knowing that I have an actual ticket to present to the check-in clerk, instead of nervously hoping that I wouldn’t be asked for proof of onward travel.
Countries that definitely want to see proof onward travel are New Zealand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia and the UK. If you find yourself headed to any of them on a round-the-world trip or without confirmed onward travel plans, One Way Fly is the easiest way for you to get the required onward ticket. You simply fill out a form stating the essential information: From where? To where? What date? (or you can even choose a specific flight!), you give them the email address you want the ticket sent to, and pay the fee. You’ll then receive the email with the actual ticket, which is valid for two weeks.
And not only that: If you need to provide a hotel reservation for a visa application, they’ll book a hotel for you too for an additional $10. Considering that One Way Fly books actual plane tickets and hotel rooms, I find the rate they charge for this service to be excellent value for money. If you want to check out a similar website – Onwardticket provides the same service, however, the ticket they provide you with is only valid for 48 hours, while One Way Fly’s tickets are valid for 14 days.
The next time I’ll find myself at a check-in counter being asked the dreaded question for an onward ticket, I know that I don’t need to worry about not being allowed to board a flight. No more frantic searches for flights online thirty minutes before check-in closes, no more mental breakdowns in airports.