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One Way Ticket to Europe and Onward Airline Ticket Requirements

I currently have a one-way ticket to Rome, and I’m going through London to get there. Do you think I will have trouble going through the UK if I only have a one-way ticket? Hello  David, This is a tricky proposition. It is not my impression that you will be given any problems in London [...]

I currently have a one-way ticket to Rome, and I’m going through London to get there. Do you think I will have trouble going through the UK if I only have a one-way ticket?

Hello  David,

This is a tricky proposition. It is not my impression that you will be given any problems in London — you are just passing through, your passport and air ticket should only be checked for security purposes if you are connecting flights  — but you may have difficulty boarding the flight in the USA.

I have not yet had much of a problem with this — I have left the USA with one way tickets more times than I care to count — but I know of many other people who have been hassled and forced to purchase a return or onward ticket before departing.

This is also something I expect to see more of as airlines search for ways to squeeze every last penny out of their passengers. The entrance rules of many countries state that you need proof of onward travel — but this is hardly ever enforced. This seems as if this could be used as a good “hands clean” way for airlines to sell two tickets rather than one to passengers with unspecified travel plans.

“It is the regulations of the country, it has nothing to do with us, you need to buy another ticket,” I can imagine the airlines saying in justification.

I have not yet had a problem getting on flights to Europe with a one-way ticket, but it is a reasonable possibility. Speaking of probability, you probably will not be asked for proof of onward travel, depending on the airline you are traveling with (I found that you have a better chance of not being asked for proof of onward travel with airlines based in the region you are traveling to). You have a couple options to safeguard yourself if you do not want to test probability.

  1. Just purchase a super cheap budget airline ticket from a Schengen country to a non-Schengen country departing three months from the time you board your flight for Europe. Seriously, if you book this far in advance you could get a ticket to somewhere outside the Schengen zone for under $30. Then if you decide to take the flight, take it; if not, you only lost a few ten dollar bills.

    The amount that you will pay doing this would probably be far less than if you are refused boarding and forced to purchase at the airport.

  2. Print up a fake itinerary.
    • How to get by onward ticket requirements
    • Travel Tip #2- Onward Tickets for One-Way Travelers


I hope this helps,

Wade

—————-

Original question about traveling to Europe on a one way ticket

Hi Wade,

Thanks for your response. I currently have a one-way ticket to Rome, and I’m going through London to get there. Do you think I will have trouble going through the UK if I only have a one-way ticket? I have heard that the UK authorities are more tough. Or do you think they will just let me get onto the plane for Rome with no problem?
Thanks again,

David

Filed under: Air Travel, Transportation, Travel Help

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • dan February 10, 2010, 5:32 am

    This happened to my buddy & I in Chicago just a month and a half ago!
    We are currently living abroad in Amsterdam for a couple months and did not purchase return flights because we’re uncertain of future plans. When I arrived at O’Hare I was told I needed a visa, return ticket, or something proving I was traveling onward before they’d let me through security and onto the plane. I argued with them for about 30-60 seconds before another person at the counter corrected them and I was given my boarding pass. I was fortunate.
    HOWEVER…my buddy that I’m living with was much much less fortunate. He flew a days after me and they refused to let him on the flight and ended up arguing with the airlines for hours. Again, same deal, they told him he needed a return flight or proof of onward travel. Eventually he went up the chain of command and said to a supervisor “You have to show me where it says in the rules I cannot board the flight. When you show me a printed rule in a book that says this is the deal I will shut up and go away.” Well the guy busted out the book, couldn’t find the rule, and issued him a $150 voucher for his troubles. By this time he had missed the last flight for the day and had to come back the next morning. INSANE.
    Yes, this is absolute nonsense and clearly so the airlines can make up some of the money they’re losing. Nickel and diming people for all they’re worth. I’ve been saying “this has gone too far” for a long time now. We are truly at the mercy of these large airlines.

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  • maria October 1, 2010, 9:12 am

    i am an American and will be traveling to Germany to visit my mother,with my daughter ,she is 2 years old . I’m only buying a one-way ticket , we will be staying there for 3 months.I am divorced,but my ex husband give me permission,and he signed that i can bring our daughter with me.am i i going to have any problems,because ours ticket are in one way?

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com October 2, 2010, 9:27 am

      It is possible. When they ask if you have a return or onward ticket say that you do, tell them where it is to, what airline it is on — out of Schengen zone — and say that you just booked it. Be confident and stick to your statements. If that fails then you may have to buy a ticket out of the region within 90 days of arrival or a return ticket for when you plan to return.

      Get to the airport early and fight with them if they give you a hard time.

      Another way to deal with these return or onward ticket requirements, which won’t really do you much good now, is to buy a cheap ticket from the USA to England, then completely separate ticket to mainland Europe. Generally, I have not really found myself hassled as much outside of the USA.

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    • Wade | Vagabondjourney.com October 2, 2010, 9:28 am

      Do you have official, notarized, legal permission that your husband gave you permission to take your daughter overseas?

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  • Simon Coleman December 23, 2010, 6:55 pm

    I would have thought that the issue would be when you arrive in Rome. Though, my experience has been providing you can demonstrate you have funds to move on there should not be any real problems, just the questions.

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  • cristi August 24, 2011, 7:30 am

    Hi, Iam a filipina travelling to europe with my 3 year old daughter next month and we have a one way ticket and a dummy return ticket, but we have a 3 months visa, will we be having problem checking in?

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