Reader Question: Iberia Requires Return Ticket When Traveling To Europe From The US?


A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question regarding need to have a return ticket to your home country or airline will otherwise refuse to transport?


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Here’s the email from the reader:

Using my Avios points from last June, I booked a flight to Zurich via Madrid in business class with the Avios. I stay abroad most of every year for many years, and this is the first time that I was told I couldn’t check in online, even though I had my confirmed seat in business class. That was upsetting. Arrived early at the airport and was told by supervisor agent checking me in that I needed proof of a return flight to the states or I couldn’t board the flight. Is this normal with Iberia or other airlines now?

I am USA senior citizen and I had no choice but to buy something. When he said I could purchase a refundable ticket but I would have to pay the taxes etc. I realized I would use my united miles and buy something and then hopefully cancel at my destination within 24 hours. Was this agent telling me something that is new to me? I always buy my return tickets when I am ready to return.

Some countries may require proof of ONWARD travel “officially”, although this is rarely enforced for passengers from developed nations.

Although Switzerland is not part of European Union but EEA (European Economic Area), they are in Schengen. This means that the reader would enter the Schengen area in Spain.

I put the information with one-way travel without onward ticket to IATA Tarvel Center website (access here) that uses Timatic to see what it would say:

Timatic Results

It doesn’t indicate that onward ticket is required.


It is unfortunately not uncommon that these low paid airport employees that the airline has outsourced their ground handling to are not sure about the entry requirements or unable to comprehend them correctly

Spanish ground employee was once denying my friend flying to UK with a Greek passport (utter nonsense) but showing an US Drivers License to go with it made it ok. Another one was carefully studying the Schengen visa that a friend of mine had when boarding an intra-Schengen flight (nonsense as well).

There is absolutely no requirement for having a return ticket to your home in any possible scenario. You may need to have a ticket to another country or in this reader’s case to outside of the Schengen zone such as UK.

You can just buy a ticket on Expedia or Orbitz that allow you to cancel even non-refundable tickets until late the following day and refund it by the deadline if you have no use.

I rarely fly on return tickets and every once in a full moon the check in agent asks for a proof of onward travel. If I don’t have it, I just buy a ticket that I will refund later.

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