Rent a ticket !
Rent a ticket? Yes, that’s correct – but incredible, of course. This afternoon we stumbled over this new website. The method targets the Philippines requiring an onward or return ticket for non-residents.
Expatriates with a non-immigrant visa, long-stay tourists and tourists needing flexibility had always had the problem to show an onward or return ticket from the Philippines, when checking in abroad. Even with an immigrant visa or an SRRV (Special Retiree Reentry Visa) one can be questioned abroad.
The problem is that Philippine immigration requires an onward or return ticket and if a passenger cannot show such a ticket, the airline will be responsible to bring the passenger out of the country. The website offers this “Rent a ticket” service for a huge list of countries.
Before this service existed, travelers without such a ticket found a solution in a so called “throw away” ticket. These tickets are simply the cheapest one-way ticket to fly out of the Philippines. If booked early enough with a low cost carrier (LCC) one can find such tickets for a few pesos. Preferred destinations are Kota Kinabalu and Hong-Kong These tickets are never used, but thrown in the next waste basket. Cancellation fees are too high to apply for a refund.
How it works
But now “fly onward” offers temporary tickets for as low as USD 9.99 (24 hours) or USD 16.99 (48 hours). You may even want to test their service for USD 1.99. “fly onward” books a real ticket with an airline of their choice. As soon as the ticket is confirmed by the airline, you receive an e-ticket from the airline by e-mail. After 24 or 48 hours the ticket is cancelled automatically.
The company behind the website is very secretive. A “whois” inquiry about the domain is protected. The time-zone makes us think of one of the following countries: Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Thailand, Indonesia, parts of Russia or parts of Austrelia. The website says that it is developed and operated by Don, a digital nomad. We also have the feeling that it is a one man show, because they say that they have a target of 200 bookings per day. 2000 bucks per day isn’t so bad!
Is this legal?
Yes, it still is legal. It only works because travel agencies have other access methods to airline booking systems than you, the final customer has. With these privileged access methods, they can cancel tickets without penalties or cancellation fees. Within the 24 or 48 hours anybody, government agency or airline can verify your rented ticket online. It really exists!
Want to know more?
In the movie below they explain how it works
Will this “Rent a ticket” service last?
With only 200 targeted bookings per day, these “rent a ticket” bookings will vanish in the big mass of daily online bookings. As long as he/they keep the business small, there seems to be no danger. For the airlines there are almost no costs, except of a bit usage of their computer processing power. The only method to track these bookings would be to program a filter that compares all cancelled bookings with the IP address, from where the booking had been made and cancelled. But if Don is a real digital nomad, he uses proxy servers and other methods to change the IP addresses frequently.
And there is an error
The website says:
“Depending on your booking option, the ticket will last for exactly 24 hours or 48 hours, so so all you need to do is make sure you’re arriving at your destination within 24 hours or 48 hours of booking your onward flight with us. The ticket will be automatically canceled after that period.”
This is wrong, at least for the Philippines. When travelling to the Philippines, one needs to show an onward or a return ticket. This flight needs to be within a reasonable period after arrival, maybe between 2 weeks and 10 months. It might even make officials curious when your onward flight is within a few hours after arrival.
This error is also visible in the booking section where tickets are only available for the next 5 days. Any flight further in the future is not available. This error unfortunately limits the usability of this new service.