The first time we were required to show an Exit Ticket or Proof of Onward Travel was at OR Tambo Airport. We were checking in to leave on our epic adventure to travel the world full-time.
We bought a one-way ticket to Brazil, the cheapest we could find at the time. We didn't have any set plans, no time limit, no nothing. Now the airline (SAA) wanted us to have a ticket back to South Africa! Not even an onward ticket. What? We were so worried. We can't even leave South Africa!
We did kind of know that this might be the situation. And this is mostly enforced by airlines because they will have to send you back to your country of origin at their cost if you are not permitted to enter the said country. Since they are liable, they can refuse boarding of passengers who don't have a return ticket.
Luckily, I read about two websites prior to leaving where you can basically book a flight without paying - they keep the ticket "on hold" for a certain amount of time. Just enough for you to prove that you have a return ticket.
So how do you get a ticket without paying? Many people create false tickets or some pay about $20 just for proof of a ticket without paying for an actual ticket. Obviously, it is better if you can actually book a flight to another country if you know where you are going next.
Step 1: Go to the following website: www.yatra.com
Choose your "from" city and destination city in the next country. In the example below, we chose to "fly" from Buenos Aires back to Johannesburg. Choose the date within your allowed amount of days in the country. Click Search.
Step 2: Your search results will come up. Look for the "hold for free" button. Sometimes, you have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the results. Sometimes, there is no results available to "hold for free". Just choose another search and try again until you succeed.
As can see in this example, you can also cancel this booking for free on the same day. It doesn't really matter because you won't pay, but if you have this option without the hold for free option and can cancel within a day, you can also do that.
Step 3: After you click "hold for free", you can review your booking and enter your details. You need to enter your email address to receive your ticket confirmation and a cellphone number to receive a code to complete the booking. If you are travelling, you might not be able to get an OTP via sms, enter a friend or family member's number who can send the code to you asap. Enter the details of all the passengers in order for their names to appear on the ticket. Click "Hold Booking"
Step 4: Your booking will be confirmed and put on hold, you will receive an email.
(The example below is from a previous ticket).
You need the PNR code to get a legitimate ticket.
You have two options here: you can either go directly to the airline's website and use the PNR reference number to get your ticket or you can use Check my Trip, safer and easier. They also have an app so you always have it handy.
In the right-hand corner, click the three dots and click the first option, Add trip with reservation number.
This screen will popup. Under Reservation Number enter the PNR code and click Add trip. You will then get the flight number, airline, date and time of the flight and you can print it out or have it on your phone to prove that you have an onward/return ticket.
Don't worry about the price of the ticket. Because it is on hold, you don't have to pay immediately, and you have a specific amount of time within which to pay the ticket. If you don't pay, it automatically cancels the ticket and you have not lost anything.
In our opinion this is the best, and most legitimate way to book an exit ticket, because you actually have a real flight reservation. They might notice that it is not confirmed or paid, like the lady at SAA noted. We just said that we paid with a Credit Card and it takes a day or two to reflect. No problems.
So there you have it. No need to worry about this ever again.