Have you ever had to cancel a flight? Maybe your plans changed at the last minute or you had to reschedule because of work. Or maybe you booked a flight for the wrong dates? I mention this last one because it happened to me recently – I was so excited to find a deal on a ticket home to visit my family, that I booked the outward journey a week earlier than I should have. There was no way I could have taken extra time off work, so I had to cancel the flight which was a nightmare – of course, it was trickier than buying the ticket in the first place and I swear the airline made it more complicated than was necessary. After all that stress, I lost out on a bunch of money and my bargain ticket ended up costing me an arm and a leg.
Well. Lesson learned. After that unpleasant experience, I decided to investigate so that, if this ever happens again (and knowing me it probably will), I’ll know what my rights are AND I’ll be able to stand up for them! To help all my lovely readers out there I decided to share what I found out – after all, if you travel by plane at all, this is bound to be useful for you at some point.
What do all these fees mean?
This is a logical starting point because once you break it down, you can figure out how much money you can get back. I was always puzzled about the lengthy list of numbers that made up the cost of my flight tickets, but basically, airline tickets can be split into 3:
- Actual ticket price
How much will I get refunded?
Let’s start with the good news – the airline should refund you the taxes and fees as since you aren’t flying, you’re not obliged to pay these. However, with the actual ticket price, if you bought a non-refundable ticket, you probably won’t get this money back. If your ticket is refundable, you can get 95% of the price – but only if the airline can’t prove that it couldn’t sell your seat. Before you lose hope though, taxes and fees can be up to 70% of the total price, which means you can still get a lot of your money back, even without the actual ticket price getting refunded.
What I miss my flight?
Even if you miss a flight, those fees and taxes I mentioned are owed to you – after all, you’re not using the flight, so you should get these back.
When can I claim?
As with most things, it’s of course better to do this as early as possible – at least then you’re more likely to have all the documents on hand. But, if you’re reading this and remembering a past ticket cancellation and wondering if you can get that refund, there’s a chance you’ll still be able to claim. In the EU, it depends on the country – in the U.K. you have as much as 6 years to claim!
How do I get my refund?
You have a couple of options. The first is the traditional route, where you send a letter to the airline requesting your refund and deal with the matter yourself. For some people this works just fine, but I personally hate bureaucracy – plus the thought of my case going to court brings me out in a cold sweat – so I would simply go online and use MYFLYRIGHT. After you submit your documents, they’ll pursue your case for you and even if it ends up in court, they will take care of it. Plus, if you have any questions about your claim you have someone there to help you out.
Air travel is so common these days that it’s no wonder there are more and more questions about passenger rights. It’s a confusing area, but I really hope that by sharing these few tips, I’ve given you guys a little confidence for the next time you need to cancel a flight.
Enjoy your travels in 2020!