This time, I want to write about my experience of applying for Schengen visa without paying a dime to book for the hotel and return flights. The purpose of this post is mainly for my personal documentation so that I won’t forget about how to do it the next time around. However, this post might also actually be quite useful for people that apply for Schengen visa from the UK since the quality fo the information that I found on the internet is not so good. Therefore I decided to write this post in English rather than the usual Indonesian language.
The steps are actually quite easy after we have managed to understand it. There are many services out there offering a hassle-free service to book for hotel + return flights just for visa application, but I wouldn’t recommend it since we would need to pay quite a substantial amount of money (around 50 GBP booking fee). Paying the hotel and flights directly also is a risky move since we would not know whether our application would be booked and most importantly the approved duration of our stay in Schengen area. It could vary from 15 to 90 days. If your intended departure to Schengen area is less than 2 weeks, just like me, booking a refundable flight ticket also is not an option since we would not be able to refund the ticket if our visa application has been rejected.
So here are my steps that I take to apply for tourist Schengen visa without paying a dime for hotel and flight.
First thing first, book your appointment at the visa application office
I use VFS Global when scheduling my Schengen visa to Germany. I got very lucky because there is an opening to apply for German Schengen visa on 21 March, less than a week apart. In most cases, especially in peak holiday season, appointment schedule would quickly be filled up for next month or so. Therefore, book your visa appointment in advance.
Create Your Itinerary
For the sake of simplicity, just book flights and hotel to visit 1 city only. In my case, I book return flights to Munich and book 15 days of hostel stay in Munich. You don’t need to actually show proof for the real itinerary that you are going to follow once you are in the Schengen area. Your plan could change though, so there is no point to overcomplicate the itinerary just for visa application.
Book Your Flight via Yatra.com
One most important thing to provide for your visa application is to provide proof of flight booking. Book the flight on the day of your visa document submission or the day before. In my case, I was able to book KLM flight for 2 days. Once we have searched for the suitable flight, there is a button named book for free under each flight. The valid flight booking duration is shown clearly when we hover the mouse on top of the button. See image below to understand what I meant exactly.
The image below will give you an idea of what a flight booking confirmation from Yatra would look like.
The most important part of the flight booking confirmation from Yatra is the Airline PNR which is equivalent to booking code. Yatra is actually an Indian service company. In my opinion, it might not be feasible to use airline booking proof produced by Yatra directly since I am not an Indian and the outstanding booking amount shown is in INR. Therefore, I only took the Airline PNR and use it on KLM website. Please note that the Airline PNR code might not be able to be used directly after being issued. In my case, I need to wait around 30 minutes or so before I could use the booking code.
On KLM website, look for login with my booking code under My Trip tab. Then enter Airline PNR code as a booking code and your last name as a family name. You then could print your flight itinerary directly from the website. It looks very real to me. There is no indication whatsoever that the flight was actually not paid yet.
I booked another flight just now to show you that it is also feasible to book flight and print itinerary for other flights than KLM. I decided to black out my booking code since this is ongoing booking right now.
Book Your Hotel via Booking.com
Just search for any hotel within your area that offers free cancellation up to 1 day before your intended departure day. In my case, I booked Low Budget Hostel in Munich that offers free cancellation for free until 30 March 2018 23:59 Munich time.
After my visa has been approved, I directly cancel my booking on this accommodation so that my card would not be charged.
And that’s it. That is how you manage to provide hotel + flight bookings for Schengen visa application without paying a dime.