Guide To Getting A Tax Refund On A Cancelled Flight


People who’ve had to cancel a flight, and are not insured, normally accept that they have lost the whole cost of the ticket. However, this is one of the airlines best kept secrets as the tax (Air Passenger Duty) which is paid by each customer, and is often a hefty part of low-cost tickets, is only paid to the government upon flying. So, as long as you cancelled before the day of the flight, read our guide to see if you could get some money back.

Taxes on flights are a nice little money earner for airlines as not only does the customer pay the tax on the flight weeks or months ahead, but if there’s a cancellation the airline gets to sell the ticket again and keeps the tax from the first sale!

Trying to find information on any airline website on how to claim a tax refund is usually a difficult task. Phoning the customer service department is also a weary experience, with no guarantee of success. However, airlines cannot refuse to return the tax to the customer, but what they can insist upon is the payment of an administration fee, which can be per reservation, per ticket or per flight. Depending on the airline, sometimes this fee is set at abusive rates resulting in it not being worthwhile making a claim for a tax refund.

Given that fighting with an airline can be a time-consuming business, there are websites that can take the headache out of getting your tax back:

  • This site charges a 15% fee for the request, information on the site is a bit vague and although the website is available in English the FAQ section is only in Dutch.
  • Also charges an up-front fee, but first of all they establish whether or not you have a valid claim. Then, depending on the net refund you’ll receive from the airline, the fee is either 5€ or 10€ or waived in some cases.

For general information regarding air passenger duty, go to HM Revenue & Customs (tax rates applicable in the UK). Section 2.1 shows how much air passenger duty is payable on each flight leaving from a UK airport, which depends on both the distance and the class of travel. This could help when deciding whether to claim back the tax or not.


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