Do I need to buy a return ticket / onward flight to fly UK to India?

#1 Mar 20th, 2007, 23:47
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  • doglikesparky is offline
#1
Does anybody know if I will be allowed to board a plane from the UK to India holding only a one-way ticket? I'd like to leave it open as to when I leave the country.

When travelling to other countries, I've had conflicting advice from airlines and embassies in the past on this point, and it's frustrating to turn up at check-in and either have to buy a ticket there and then, or walk right through without them asking if I have an onward flight - both of which have happened to me!

Thanks for any info
#2 Mar 21st, 2007, 00:14
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  • Nick-H is offline
#2
Indian immigration (***in my experience***) do not ask to see your air ticket and do not require an onward/outward ticket as a requirement of entrance.

Consequently I see no reason for the airline to be concerned. Especially if they sold you the ticket!

But I've never yet done it --- might next time if I get the right flight at the right price.
#3 Mar 21st, 2007, 00:31
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I agree with Nick. I don't see any problems, they do not know your travel plans, for all they know your could be leaving India on a different airline and to a different country. (You don't have to return directly to the UK)

The main thing is you leave India before your Visa expired.
#4 Mar 22nd, 2007, 02:21
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#4
Thanks very much for the replies, guys. My flight vendor wasn't sure when I asked, left the phone for a minute, and came back and said I would need an onward or return ticket. He assured me the Indian High Commission would tell me the same, tho I haven't checked with them yet. I don't trust the vendor - trying to sell a return ticket, I suspect. I'll buy a one-way and then call the airline at the airport of departure and see what their policy is.
#5 Mar 22nd, 2007, 02:33
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You don't need an onward ticket. It's perfectly normal and legal to fly to India with a one-way or open-ended return. No one will ask to see any tickets. Many people here, myself included, have flown to India on a one-way and then purchased an outbound ticket later.
#6 Mar 22nd, 2007, 05:22
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  • Dr. Gajaprishthakara is offline
#6
You should, though, recognize that it is a bit of a gamble - albeit with good odds.

The problem is not so much at the India end but at your point of departure. Airlines are responsible (in certain circumstances)for repatriating persons who are refused entry upon arrival and they can be overly cautious about looking after their financial interests. If they want to enforce this Indian requirement (whether or not it is ever enforced by Indian authorities) they can, to cover their arses. Airlines have large arses so be aware that even if it is not a problem now it does not mean that it won't be a problem next time.

That said, my wife and I are flying into Chennai on Monday next with no visible means of departure . We will let you know. Australia.
#7 Mar 22nd, 2007, 05:28
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Sorry to disagree--but it's really not a gamble. If you have a valid visa and passport, you need no other documentation or proof of anything to visit India. The bit about airlines having to repatriate you comes in the rare instances when they fly someone to India without a visa (it happens occasionally). The airlines are supposed to check your visa at the ticket counter. If they fly you illegally to India, they have to fly you home.

But this doesn't have anything to do with the issue at hand. Bottom line: no outbound ticket required. Think about it. You can fly to India, take a boat to Maldives, and then sail to Sri Lanka, and fly home via Singapore. You can also fly to Kolkata, take a train to Dhaka, and fly on from there.

Once you clear immigration, the airlines don't care what you do.

Enjoy your trips and don't worry about the outbound ticket.
#8 Mar 22nd, 2007, 05:36
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Merchant - I have considered your response but I feel that the cautious note expressed in my post should stand.
#9 Mar 22nd, 2007, 05:42
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#9
Are you saying that an international carrier MAY refuse to honor your inbound ticket, and refuse to take you as a passenger to India, if you don't possess an outbound ticket?

That would be highly irregular, if not illegal. Airlines sell one-way tickets . . .

A valid ticket is a valid ticket. They can't just choose not to fly you as long as you have the right papers and are not a security risk.
#10 Mar 22nd, 2007, 05:52
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#10
....and you would likely succeed in court. But officialdom is not a court and there are many situations (dare I say, the bulk) where companies and individuals over step the parameters of their powers. This is a borderline (no pun intended) issue and I think that it is prudent to sound a note of caution.
#11 Mar 22nd, 2007, 07:25
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  • Nick-H is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattnsuzi View Post If they want to enforce this Indian requirement (whether or not it is ever enforced by Indian authorities) they can, to cover their arses. Airlines have large arses so be aware that even if it is not a problem now it does not mean that it won't be a problem next time.
No! Very simply because it is not an Indian requirement so you're whether or not fails because it has no basis.

Sorry, mattnsuzi... not a borderline issue or anything even close to it.

There is no requirement, in the Indian visa regulations, for any onward or return ticket.

I should be very surprised to hear that anyone has even been asked to show any ticket; it would be a first. It is just not part of the immigration procedure --- which most of us have been through quite a few times (ten times, personally, I think, including twice last year)

You are very right to be cautious about visa issues --- but this is not an issue.
#12 Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:38
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#12
I left the UK on a one way ticket from Manchester to Delhi four weeks back. At the check in desk at Manchester the person at the counter said I couldn't board with a one way. This was Qatar Airlines. I've never flown with them before. I told her I'd been on one ways with about seven or eight different airlines to India and they had never had a problem with it. She peristed in telling me I needed to buy a return. She called another worker over. It was clear that they were not sure of the rules but he also insisted I buy a return/onward ticket. He said about he oman behind the counter "she is Indian, she knows" (Indian origin but British). I stood my ground and they contacted someone on the phone. After that peron did some checking, they let me on. No apologies or anything for trying to mislead me or for insisting they knew the rules when they clearly did not. I buy one ways because I'm never sure when I'll be returning and changing the date on the rturn costs money (quite a bit of money if you change it a few times). It allows me some degree of freedom.

A less experienced traveller would have had to part with a wad of cash for a return ticket that s/he probably did not really want because at one stage the staff were clearly not going to let me on and were trying to force me off the flight.
#13 Mar 22nd, 2007, 11:21
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H There is no requirement, in the Indian visa regulations, for any onward or return ticket.
I've always been under the impression that the travel agent had to send off an itinerary to the embassy showing the outbound flight details in order to have the visa issued That seems to have been the way the few times I've travelled there, but I can't recall whether they've ever requested to see my return ticket at immigration.
Last edited by Nick-H; Mar 22nd, 2007 at 14:08.. Reason: fixed the quote box
#14 Mar 22nd, 2007, 11:39
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#14
This applies to people from what are usually described as western, English-speaking countries, where the travelers are not of South Asian origin:

The issuing of the visa is between you and the consulate. There are no travel agents involved, unless you have the agent file the papers for your visa--which is fine. The travel agent might provide your full itinerary to the consulate, but there is no requirement that you show proof of onward travel in order to get a visa.

In seven trips to India, going back to 1996, I have never had to show any government official or airline employee any information regarding my travel plans. They don't ask, they don't care--and frankly, it's none of their business. There are no stated or unstated requirements. It's perfectly legal and normal to travel to India on a one-way ticket.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is misinformed, and if your airline hassles you, ask to speak to a supervisor. All the airline is required to do by the government of India is verify that you have a valid visa in a valid passport.

It may have been different long ago, but this is the way it is now.
#15 Mar 22nd, 2007, 14:13
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#15
Well, I guess the US State Department isw wrong too (it wouldn't be the first time) :

QUOTE
INDIA - *Passport and visa required. Tourist visas require 1 application form, 2 photos, proof of sufficient funds, onward/return ticket, and $150 fee. Visa must be obtained before arrival. Include prepaid envelope for return of passport by certified mail. HIV test required for all students and anyone over 18 staying 1 year or more; U.S. test from well-known lab accepted. For information about business visas and other requirements, consult the Embassy of India, 2536 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202/939-9806/9899) or the nearest Consulate General: Chicago (312/595-0405), Houston (713-626-2355), New York (212/774-0600) or San Francisco (415/668-0683). Internet: www.indianembassy.org
UNQUOTE

As Colin's experience shows, the responses should be a little more prudent than just saying "won't be a problem".
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