My friend is going to an academic conference in Germany and needs a proper visa. She is prepared to provide documentation of her hotel reservation, but does not have a plane reservation yet. She will not be changing the purpose or length of the visa, only the flight is missing. There is a sort of Catch-22 paradox around paying for the flight before the visa is issued.
The embassy asks for "proof of airline reservation". Various websites on the Internet claim that what is in fact desired is a "flight itinerary" and that the Schengen visa does not require a full plane reservation, and that they can issue a "dummy itinerary" for $10. But I see a hint on Travel.SE that this information may be obsolete as of 2018.
Would Germany frown upon a "dummy itinerary"? Does this count as a "fake itinerary"?
Would it be possible for her to simply write some flight numbers on a sheet of paper and show that to the German embassy as her personal itinerary, as described under the "old rules" (pre-2016?) in "Is it a must to have your flight ticket when applying for a visa", "Booking travel tickets for visa without paying" and "What does “copy of itinerary” mean when applying for a Schengen visa"?