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We're applying for Chinese visas, and want to take the train south from Shanghai to Vietnam. We can't book train tickets into Hanoi until 18 days before departure.

However, this isn't compatible with Chinese visa requirements - we really need to have submitted applications with printed proof of itinerary before then (to allow for delays).

So we've been told that the best way to deal with this is to book a flight out of Shanghai, send printed confirmation of the flight with the visa application, then cancel the flight and get the money back.

We've just been looking for refundable flights out of Shanghai, but it's hard to know which airlines to look at. Currently we're searching for individual flights, then looking at the small print for each one, and it's very slow and confusing.

The best we've done so far is Cathay Pacific, who seem to charge 500 CNY (50 GBP) per ticket, which is quite high.

Does anyone happen to know which of the airlines flying out of Shanghai have low or zero refund fees?

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Talk to a flesh-and-blood travel agent, or the airline directly, and get a fully refundable fare. Most airlines offer these, but they're not necessary available online. From Shanghai, try eg. Korean Airlines.

  • BA charge 150RMB only (britishairways.com/travel/service-fees/public/en_gb) – Him Aug 10 '15 at 16:03
  • BA do not have direct flights from Shanghai to Vietnam whereas they connection flights are about 20,000 CNY. This has to be the most absurd airline out there. – Zack Aug 11 '15 at 5:18
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    You can purchase a ticket to UK then cancel it later. The trip does not necessary have to go to Vietnam. – Him Aug 11 '15 at 5:27
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I used to work at one of the 3 big Chinese airlines and they had fully refundable fares when you buy the full fare ticket. Try to do it online but don't just look at the cheapest ticket, look at the highest price economy ticket and chances are that ticket will be fully refundable. Keep in mind those tickets will run around $2000 round trip from US to China (not sure where you are but prices will be different, generally it will be almost double the cheapest ticket price offered). But look at the fare rules when you book and look for the refund section.

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Having traveled to Vietnam from Shanghai, I would recommend you Air Asia from Shanghai to Ho Chi Minh City. Considering you are looking for the lowest cancellation fees I would assume price is a huge factor. Their cancellation fees could be as low as 270 CNY. Also their ticket price will be almost the same as Cathay Pacific.

This highly depends on where you buy from. If you buy from a travel agent make sure you tell them that you want a full refund in case of anything. Same applies online, ticket prices vary according to insurance, refund policy and other factors. Be careful about online tickets though especially the really cheap ones(I have only bought from Chinese online websites), you could get very cheap tickets but in case you miss the flight, need to cancel or change they give only about 5% back.

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