Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Return or Onward Ticket

Let’s hear a foreigner-friend who sent me email…

Dear PT,
...I know you discuss mostly air travel within the country, but I hope you can help me. Why do airliners always ask me for a return ticket? Sometimes they insist I buy a ticket to anywhere outside Philippines. I tell them I don't know, because it depends if I go home next week or the next month. Still they don't sell me a ticket to Philippines if I don't buy return or onward ticket. So, I just guess a date, buy return ticket that becomes useless cuz I leave on another date. Isn’t that robbery?

My reply…

Dear (friend),
No it is not robbery. That's just how it is with international travel. Its not even an airline requirement. It is a government requirement that the airline must comply with. Otherwise if immigration finds out you don't have a return or onward ticket, the airline will be fined heftily.

From friend again…

Dear PT,
…never did Immigration ask me for a return ticket the many times I left going to Philippines. Also I remember Philippines Immigration casually asked only once if I already have ticket going home…

My Final reply…

Dear (friend),
…just because no one asks, does not mean your airline can already forget about that requirement. Immigration officers at your country and over here, ask those questions quite randomly… especially if you look like you have a lot of $$$, they wont bother asking since they assume you already have that return or onward ticket. But, if not you, your airline, must ensure compliance with that requirement!

And so on and on. But let me tell you the rest of that topic here.

A return ticket is required by various (not all) governments of passengers who enter, but are ’not citizens of’ or have ’no permission’ (visa) to live forever in their countries. At times, this is even a requirement before you leave your very own country, just for your government to ensure you come back or at least for them to monitor when you should be expected back. It is some kind of a control for governments to regulate the flow of people entering or leaving their countries, especially those without visa.

How does that apply? Take the case of Filipinos going to Singapore. We do not need a visa for a stay of up to 2 weeks, right? But we are required to show a return or onward ticket that must be within that 14-day allowable period, right? Now imagine if we were not required to show that return or onward ticket. Aruu, it might come to a point where almost all Filipinos are already TNT in Singapore hahaha! Thus, the need to show a valid return or onward ticket, for the Singapore government to ensure we leave their country within 14 days. Otherwise, we must secure a visa – usually working visa. And they do actually determine if any more visas should be approved lest it come to a point where all workers in Singapore are Filipinos. Hahaha again!

That is the same for foreigners who are allowed into this country without a visa. Because if they were not required a return or onward ticket, many of them might become TNT in our country and the next time you wake up, all the resorts in all the islands are owned by foreigners who are TNT in the Philippines. Otherwise, they'll have to pay the corresponding visa fees and permits. In relation to that, some foreigners who are considered fugitives or “wanted” at their own countries, will find it very easy to “hide” in our islands and avoid being caught. Eh mind you, even now that such a requirement is even in place, we still hear news from time to time that such and such was hiding in one of our towns or cities, right?!

Well, there are ways to avoid this requirement. One of which is to marry a Filipina, and they get to stay here forever with you! But that is by virtue of a permanent residence visa that still has some fees, though no more need for a return ticket when coming to the Philippines! So gurlz, yes bruhas, tell your kafafahan about it! You can always say, “you want to keep coming back to our beautiful islands without bothering for a return or onward ticket? Marry me then”! Yan ang robbery! Blackmail pa nga eh! You can even say “you want to keep coming back to our islands, why not open a business here? Marry me, so you can be allowed to do that and have ownership of the properties you buy”! Ayan, automatically co-owner ka na ng resort, ng building, ng company whatever! Asenso si Inday!

Now back to the serious side of the return ticket hehe (lest we forget)

Note that for the Philippines and many countries of the world, passengers are required to have return or onward tickets even if they have tourist visas. But, there are ways to avoid wasting money for a return or onward ticket that will not be used anyway, therefore forfeited by the airline.

1) Buy a Regular Economy ticket (requires a lot of brain power)
Sometimes it is called a Full Economy, Full EY, Regular Fare and many other names. But what you should be on the lookout for is the absence of restrictions such as “Non-refundable”, “Non-rebookable”, “Non-Endorsable”, “Non-reroutable” and so on. Then just pick any date and have it rebooked to the desired date when you already know exactly when you want to leave.

Hints: This is usually expensive up to very expensive! Depending on the airline, that can usually be rebooked once without any charges. Most airlines do charge a rebooking fee of USD50! These are not available on budget airlines. Why? It is because this kind of fare is an industry standard, that's why it is called regular or full – meaning it has no discount whatsoever therefore can be endorsed to any airline and they wouldn't be short-changed by accepting so. Having said that, you will readily know that this kind of ticket can even cost more than a business class in some airlines!

To successfully do this option, you'll have to have a lot of time asking around and computing costs from the Philippines to wherever you come from! Most of the time, only those folks who come from nearby countries will be lucky to find this as a cheaper, therefore better alternative.

2) Say you are exiting via Zamboanga to Sandakan (works fine with some hassle)
Thanks to advances in the travel industry. Not so many years ago, this was not at all possible and the only believable way out of this country for a tourist was by air. Not anymore, there is now at least this fastcraft (Weesam Express) that plies the Zamboanga-Sandakan sea route. Oh, it passes by Jolo and Bongao, just FYI.

Hints: With this option, you may get a few more interrogative questions from the immigration officers at your city of departure (yep, your home country) and the Philippine city of arrival. Those would usually be queries as to why you are going that route, if you have enough funds to last you here and on to Malaysia, plus if you know the security situation and precautions needed in that area. Just a little warning to American citizens, you might not even be allowed to leave your home country with this option. Why? Ah, you should know that!

3) Plan well (undeniably the best option)
For you to be encountering this issue on return tickets, that would probably mean you have been in the country and keep coming back.That means you probably also already know that virtually all of the information about destinations and things to do anywhere in the archipelago are easily had from the web, like you are doing now by reading this blog. So plan your itineraries well and stick to them religiously. If ever there is something else you discovered needs to be seen or done, then note that down for your next visit. This country is not going anywhere anyway, right? At least you have reason enough to plan for a next visit! If you find it difficult to plan your itinerary, just holler, and many a traveler (that includes me, btw) will be more than willing to help you concoct that!

Hint: Many normal-thinking adults on earth do find “I don't know when I’ll be back” as foolishly immature and/or plainly stupid! Duh!

4) The nearest is not always the cheapest (if you really cant do the above)
If you really cant do option 3) above, and repeatedly for that matter, well don't despair. Many normal-thinking adults on earth do understand that some folks are just born plainly stupid and some of them remain so forever! But there is still some reprieve available! You buy the cheapest ticket out of the country just so the airline and immigration folks will allow you to come in. Cheapest because you know you will not fly it anyway therefore happily forfeited by the airline. Do you know which route is cheapest? The shortest route from the Philippines is Laoag to Taipei, but that may not always be the cheapest. Its not a budget airline, even if it is a tiny one and fledgling! Hong Kong is next to nearest. But where will you want to fly from? Cebu, Clark or Manila? Bandar Seri Begawan and Kota Kinabalu are next. Did you know that? Did you also know that there are international flights from Kalibo, Davao or even Zamboanga?

Hints: Chances of getting the cheapest fares are greater on routes with lesser passenger traffic. Do you know them? While Cebu Pacific is the most popular low cost or budget airline, it is not always the cheapest. Watch out for AirPhil Express, Air Asia and all others. Do you know all of them too? Final hint, researching as to which of these are nearest, cheapest or with less passenger traffic is ridiculously more tedious than just doing a realistic travel plan that is option 3) above hehe!

Ah, lets wrap this up here. At least we have just laid out what really is that return or onward ticket is, and who needs to see it.

Hope this helps many folks out there!


Anonymous said...

very educational

Anonymous said...

very informational, thank you for this. But you might want to tone down your language. Calling your letter senders or your readers stupid will just alienate them. You have the knowledge to share and help people, but by the sounds of it, it seems you find doing that bothersome. makes me wonder what the purpose of this blog really is. just my humble opinion :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous #2,
(I am #3)
i am that friend who asked and I dont find anything offensive, even if it may seem that I was the one being referred to as "stupid".

obviously you dont know the writer of this blog, and we all wonder why you are here reading!

go be humble elsewhere priest! our language is not for your hypocrite congregation!

Philipss said...

Nice post!
Airlines Tickets Philippines

pinoy traveler said...

Hmm, how come I did not notice this series of comments here?! Anyway, now that I do/did:

To Anonymous #2: pasensya if I used some words that offend you. I use them to highlight a meaning. And, I think I won't change that. The secret is, I tend to be more foul-mouthed with people I know hehe. So keep distance.

To Anonymous #3: is that really you, you id**t? Wheh? How come your English sounds a little bit more of a Pinoy talking?

Anyway, to both of you, I hope you learned about return/onward tickets and not just 'name-calling'.


Anonymous said...

"I don't know when I'll be back" is a comment a intelligent, adventurous, spontaneous person would make. As opposed to a simple minded little drone who's life my be programmed as far is they can see into the future. "DUH" back at 'cha!!

i_bkf said...

Hmmm, I actually enjoyed reading your article. It was very informative though it's been two years since it was published. Will visit your site again for sure.