Guide: Flight Reservations For The Schengen Visa Application
What Is A Schengen Visa Flight Reservation Without Payment?
A flight reservation (or flight itinerary) for the Schengen Visa application is a round trip flight ticket that you reserve with a specific airline without actually paying for it.
Some airlines provide you with a hold option that allows you to hold a seat for a specific period (typically, 7 days, although some airlines allow you to hold a seat for only 24 hours or for up to 15 days – it depends on the airline’s policy) and get a flight itinerary confirmation.
Depending on the airline you choose, you can hold the seat for free or they can charge you a small fee for your reservation.
A lot of websites (including Embassy/Consulate official websites) state that you are required to submit a “booked flight itinerary” with your Schengen Visa application, which can be confusing at first glance.
However, you should not be worried: a “booked flight itinerary”, a “booked flight”, or a “ flight itinerary” can be interpreted as just the reserving of a seat under your name on a flight, without you paying the full price of the tickets (especially before you know that your Visa is approved).
Some Embassies/Consulates prefer using the expression “flight itinerary” because their duty is to check the detailed plan of your flights to, through and back from the Schengen Region.
Your confirmed flight reservation must include information such as your full name, flight name, departure/arrival timings along with dates, flight code, departure/arrival airport, IATA codes (a three-letter code designating many airports around the world, defined by the International Air Transport Association), and the flight reservation/booking numbers.
Booked Vs. Reserved Flight Itinerary For Visa Application – What Is The Difference?
If you are asking yourself, “Should I get a Visa before booking flights?” or “Can I reserve a flight without paying?”, the answer is “Yes”.
Embassies/Consulates do not encourage you to pay 100% upfront for your flight tickets (or even your hotel bookings) because, in the unfortunate event that your Visa gets rejected, you may not be able to get your money back (this is because only a few airlines allow you to purchase airline tickets with a “free cancellation” option so that you can get your money back if for any reason you won’t be able to travel anymore).
You can meet the Visa requirements by simply submitting your confirmed flight itinerary without paying the actual flight ticket.
Booking a flight reservation requires you to follow the same steps you must follow on an airline website when you intend to buy a flight ticket but without actually purchasing the plane ticket (meaning that you will only skip the last step, which is the payment).
Even if some airlines may request you to insert your credit card details (or another payment method), they will show you exactly the amount you must pay, and usually it is just a small “booking” fee they charge you in order to hold your seat for a specific period – in case they do not allow to hold the seat for free.
It is important to note that most airlines do not support seat reservations and if you do need help, reach out to us.
Therefore, there is a difference between a flight reservation and a flight booking.
- A flight booking refers to an airline ticket that you purchase 100% upfront. A flight booking confirms that an individual has paid for a flight seat on an aircraft. This is the option available for most airline companies that request money in advance when you book a flight.
- A flight reservation is a plane ticket that you reserve without paying. A flight reservation confirms that an individual holds a flight seat on an aircraft. Once you get your Visa approved, you can actually purchase your “reservation flight tickets”.
Submitting your flight itinerary is mandatory for all the Schengen Embassies/Consulates, meaning that your Schengen Visa application cannot be processed without this document.
Also, you should know that the Schengen Embassies/Consulates do not request you to reserve your flight with a specific airline or travel agent. You are free to choose amongst different available options.
What if you purchased a pre-paid tour from a travel agency?
Travel agents can also provide you with a pre-paid tour that typically includes transport and accommodation (most of the time, the Schengen Visa travel insurance is not included).
Ask your travel agent to provide you with proof of transport and accommodation (e.g hotel reservation) that are mandatory when applying for a Visa. Also, ask them to provide you with a day-to-day travel itinerary (that is different from a flight itinerary as it includes more travel details – e.g. your daily activities during your trip).
The day-to-day travel itinerary is not a mandatory document for all Embassies/Consulates but it can significantly speed up your Visa application process.
The Importance Of The Flight Reservation For Visa Application
Your flight itinerary for Visa application is extremely important for the following reasons:
● Deciding the length of the Schengen Visa, in order to avoid overstaying in the Schengen Region
A Schengen Country Visa can allow you to stay within the Schengen Region for a maximum of 90 days over a 180 day period (please check out our 90/180-day test for further details).
However, this does not mean that all the applicants receive a Visa with 90 days of permitted duration of stay.
If your round trip flight ticket shows that you will spend 24 days within the Schengen Region, you will receive a Visa with 24 days of permitted duration of stay.
The main reason why Embassy/Consulate officers decide the length of the Schengen Visa according to the exact number of days that an applicant will spend within the Schengen Region is that they want to avoid overstaying in the Schengen Countries.
For example, if you decide to organise a 13 day trip to the Schengen Region, they will not allow you to spend more than 13 days in the country/countries you plan to visit.
● Checking if your flight dates match the travel dates you declared in the Schengen Visa application form
All the documents you submit for your Schengen Visa must show consistency.
Some applicants declare when filling out the Schengen Visa application form a specific date of arrival in the Schengen Region and a specific date of departure from the Schengen Region, and afterwards they reserve a round trip flight ticket that does not match the travel dates they declared previously (in the Schengen Visa application form).
This mistake can cost you the approval of your Schengen Visa. In a few words, the Embassy/Consulate officers want to ensure that you have clear ideas regarding your trip or journey within the Schengen Region.
● Checking if you are applying at the appropriate Embassy/Consulate
You must apply for your Schengen Visa at the Embassy/Consulate of the Schengen country you will enter first or that you are spending the longest amount of time.
Your flight reservation will show the Embassy/Consulate officers the country within the Schengen Region you will enter first or spend the longest amount of time and therefore they will know if you are applying to the appropriate Embassy/Consulate or if you should submit your documents to the Embassy/Consulate of a different Schengen country.
● Having additional proof of your intentions to return to your country of residence
The main purpose of the Embassy/Consulate officers is to understand if a Schengen Visa applicant intends to return to his or her country of residence (the main reason why some Schengen Visa applicants are rejected is that they do not bring enough proof of their intentions to return to their countries of residence).
Of course, your flight reservation is not the only evidence that the Embassy/Consulate officers look at to ensure you do not intend to stay in the Schengen Region illegally, but they can help them have a better understanding of your travel plans.
Also, keep in mind that some Schengen Embassies/Consulates accept flight reservations when you apply for a Schengen Visa, but they may request the original flight ticket when you come to collect the Visa (a round trip air ticket that you paid for can bring more evidence of your intentions to return to your country of residence than a flight reservation).
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Making And Submitting A Flight Reservation For Your Schengen Visa Application
Your flight reservations are highly important for your Schengen Visa application.
Therefore, you should avoid making one of the following mistakes:
● Thinking that a flight reservation is the same as a fake flight/dummy air ticket
If you search the Internet, you will find websites offering “dummy tickets”, which is a flight ticket that you didn’t pay for.
Many of these websites say that there is no difference between a flight reservation and a dummy air ticket. Sometimes, these terms can be misleading.
For most of the websites, a dummy ticket, just as the name suggests, refers to a fake flight ticket (for example, a flight ticket created by filling out a template and cannot be validated by the Embassy/Consulate and should NEVER be submitted with your Schengen visa application) while other websites use the term “dummy ticket” as a flight ticket that you reserve, without paying.
Therefore, if you find a website that outlines that “Embassies/Consulates accept dummy tickets for the Schengen Visa application” bear in mind that they do not accept fake tickets filled in with random information, but real flight tickets that have been reserved with a specific airline that you have not paid for yet.
A real flight confirmation comes with a unique booking code or reservation ID. The Visa officers can use it to verify your flight details and ensure your Visa reservation of the flight is real.
● Submitting a one-way flight ticket
Travel Visa applications that do not include a round-trip reservation ticket will automatically be rejected or delayed. A one-way flight ticket is a single flight ticket between two destinations.
Firstly, if you submit a one-way flight ticket instead of a round trip flight ticket, the Embassy/Consulate officers won’t be able to decide the length of your Visa (because they cannot know for sure the date that you will be returning back to your place of residence).
Secondly, they may see your Visa application without a return ticket as a sign that you do not want to get back to your home country. Please note that most applicants that are rejected could not bring enough proof of their intentions to go back to their home countries.
● Submitting only the flight reservations corresponding to your arrival and your departure date without the internal flight reservations
If you plan to visit only one Schengen country, then you must submit only your round trip flight reservation that corresponds to your arrival and your exit from the Schengen Region.
But if you intend to visit more than one Schengen country, you must submit to the Embassy/Consulate the reservations that show your internal travel between different Schengen countries as well as non-Schengen countries (if you are planning on exiting and re-entering the Region).
● Misalignment between your flight itinerary and travel itinerary
A flight itinerary is not the same as a travel itinerary.
The first one refers to your flight reservations (there is no difference between “flight itinerary” and “flight reservations), while the second one is a detailed schedule that contains information regarding not only your flight and hotel booking/ reservation, but also the destinations you intend to visit in the Schengen countries, the activities you plan, and means of transportation to move between those destinations.
To learn more about the day-to-day travel itinerary and why it is important to submit it for your Schengen Visa application together with the rest of your documents, please check out this guide.
● Reserving flight tickets that offer you the option to hold your seat for less than 15 days
Depending on the airline you reserve through, you may be only able to hold your seat for just a few days or a longer period of time.
We strongly advise you to book a reservation that allows you to hold your seat for at least 14 or 15 days (because the Embassy/Consulate officers might take approximately two weeks to process your Schengen Visa application).
So, if your reservation is only valid for one week, you risk losing the reservation and jeopardise your application and travel arrangements.
● Reserving flight tickets where travelling dates do not match the dates on your other documents
The travelling dates mentioned on all the documents you submit to the Embassy/Consulate must match.
Otherwise, you risk jeopardising your Visa approval. For example, the dates on your flight reservations must match the dates you filled out on your Schengen Visa application form, your leave approval from your employer, etc. All these documents must show consistency.