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Flight cancellation: ticket refund

When you need to cancel your flight ticket, it is important to know your rights and what you should receive from the airline. A fact that many are unaware of is that you, as an air passenger, are entitled to at least part of the ticket fare when you cancel the flight yourself, regardless of your reason for doing so.

A plane ticket consists of 3 parts – 1. the base fare, 2. the taxes and 3. the fees. Whether you cancel right before the flight departs, or do not notify the airline at all that you will miss the flight, you can be refunded the costs of the taxes and fees. These alone can account for as much as 70% of the total ticket price. The base fare, also known as the “actual ticket price”, will only be repaid in full if the airline is able to resell your ticket and if permitted by the airline’s terms and conditions. In such a case, up to 95% of the total ticket price can be refunded to the passenger.

It is unfortunately not uncommon for airlines to use the fact that most passengers are unaware of their rights, to avoid providing them with the refund they deserve. MYFLYRIGHT, the experts for passenger rights, are intent on ending this practice, by providing you with comprehensive information, as well as the opportunity to use our services to pursue your case. You can check how much money you can refund with MYFLYRIGHT, if you choose to enlist our help, our experienced team can take care of your case with no financial risk.

We will offer you an individual refund amount based on your flight information. You can then accept this offer and we will transfer you the refund within 24 hours after receiving all relevant documents.

Ticked Refund

Compensation for cancelling your flight ticket

Sudden price reductions and multiple attractive offers can tempt you to spontaneously purchase a flight ticket. This may happen months before the vacation is scheduled to begin, so the risk of plans changing, or something going wrong in the meantime, are high. However, you are entitled to cancel your flight at any time prior to departure.

The actual ticket price – or base fare, the fees, plus the taxes, make up the total price of the flight ticket. At the very least, you can be reimbursed for the fees and taxes as these are not applicable for an unused flight.

Purchasing a non-refundable ticket does not mean that you are not eligible for reimbursement of taxes, fees and surcharges. In this case you have no claim to the base fare; however, this is only a portion of the total ticket price.

Plane ticket refund: breakdown of costs

To enable you to better understand the complicated terms regarding ticket refunds, we have outlined below the key components which a flight ticket consists of. According to the judgment C-290/16, made by the European Court of Justice on July 6, 2017, the airlines must list these items individually:

  • Actual ticket price or base fare: the actual price charged by the airline for the transport from A to B.
  • Processing or service fee: the cost of issuing and distributing the flight ticket. Travel agencies receive this, as of 2004, instead of a commission.
  • Taxes and fees: costs that an airline passes on to third parties, such as the airport. These include customs and security fees as well as taxes imposed by certain countries. The fees include the luggage charge, which is not included in the base fare for low-cost airlines.
  • Transaction fees: fees paid due to bank transfer.
  • Fuel surcharges: the costs incurred per passenger for aircraft fuel. The fuel surcharge should actually be included in the ticket price as it will not be passed on to third parties. Nevertheless, it is connected with "Taxes and Fees".
  • Additional fees: these include personal services (on-board service and meals).

Flight ticket cancellation: fees to be refunded

In the event you cancel your ticket, the airline must refund you the following amounts in full:

  • Airport taxes and fees
  • Security taxes and duties
  • Fuel surcharges

The majority of the above fees are transferred to third parties, such as airports, and must only be paid when the passenger takes the flight. This is applicable even in case where you have purchased a “non-refundable” ticket. Fuel surcharges are neither a tax, nor are they handled by third parties. However, this cost must be completely reimbursed by the airline, because if you do not fly, you are not using fuel.

The following amounts will not always be refundable:

  • Actual ticket price
  • Transaction fees

The ticket price will not be refunded to the passenger when the airline has specified this within its terms and conditions. If they have not stated such specifications, the airline must prove that they were unable to resell your ticket. When they cannot provide evidence of this, 95% of the ticket price must be refunded to you. Any transaction fees included in bank transfers when buying your ticket will not be repaid.

Airline invoice 1000 €
Non-refundable costs: 300€
- Airline fare price
Cancel
- Transaction fees
Cancel
Refundable costs: 700 €
- Airport taxes and fees
Check
- Security taxes and fees
Check
- Airline surcharges (fuel surcharge)
Check

Non-refundable and refundable flights

Many airlines offer different fares for the same flight - one refundable and one non-refundable. If you opt for the cheaper, non-refundable ticket, you often waive your right to get reimbursed for the ticket price if you cancel your flight. Although airline tickets from a higher travel class are more expensive, by spending more, you have the security of being able to cancel your flight and receive a ticket refund.

Flight cancellation: charges and fees

When purchasing a flight ticket, you are essentially entering into a contract with the airline. This is viewed as a work contract and you therefore have the right, as the passenger, to break your contract with the airline. This means you can cancel your flight ticket at any time and should not be charged a cancellation fee. The court ruling no. 75/2017 of the European Court of Justice from July 6, 2017 states that airlines are not permitted to charge a lump-sum cancellation fee. However, if you purchased your ticket through a travel agency, this fee must be paid to the tour operator.

Ticket cancellation: The BGB German civil code

The BGB German Civil Code provides a legal basis in the event you cancel your flight ticket. In accordance with the judgment of the Federal Court of Justice in Germany, on February 16, 2016, purchasing a ticket from an airline is the equivalent of signing a work contract with a company.

The Civil Code grants you the right to cancel a booked flight at any time. In turn, the airline has the right to demand the agreed remuneration as stated at the time of purchase and in their terms and conditions. It is assumed that the airline may withhold 5% of the ticket price for expenses related to the cancellation process.

Reasons for air ticket cancellation

Fear of flying or illness do not qualify for a free ticket cancellation. When you cancel your flight due to so-called extraordinary circumstances, however, you are legally entitled to a full refund of the cost of the ticket. Which events fall under this term is debatable and often this can only be decided in court. However, when the Foreign Office issues a travel warning, this is a clear example of an extraordinary circumstance as it is deemed beyond your control. It is important to note that you are only entitled to the reimbursement of all costs if this warning was not issued before you completed your booking.

Ticket refund for cancelled or missed flight

Regardless whether you cancel your flight months in advance, or you miss it due to some unforeseen issue on the way to the airport, you have a right to the same refund of taxes and fees from the airline. This is because in either case, you have not used the flight and are therefore not liable to pay these costs. However, in the event you missed your outward flight and still wish to take your return flight, it may cause issues as the airline may forfeit the entire air ticket. For this reason, it is advisable to check with the airline whether you are permitted to travel on your return flight, in order to avoid any misunderstandings on the journey home.

Can you get a refund on flights: claim deadlines

The statutory time limits for taxes and fees vary across the EU, depending on the country. In Germany, the right to claim for compensation ends after 3 years, whereas in the UK, the deadline is 6 years.

So, you do have enough time to assert your claims and there is no need to rush or panic in the middle of your trip. Of course, it is always a good idea to start the claim process as soon as you can, so can make sure none of your important documentation is lost or mislaid.

Ticket refund claim: required documents

To ensure you receive the ticket refund you have the right to, there are certain documents that are required in order to provide proof to the airline and, if necessary, in court. For this reason, these documents must be filed safely, to guarantee nothing is misplaced. As a rule, your booking confirmation, which states the ticket fare, plus the passenger names, are sufficient. It is important to note that the refund request can only be made by the person who paid for the flights.

All necessary documents for your refund request are listed below:

Checklist:

Important information and documents in case of ticket refund enforcement

  • Booking confirmation or proof of purchase with listing of the ticket price
  • Copy of identity card or passport
  • Confirmation of ticket cancellation
    (if available)
  • Communication with the airline
    (if available)

Flight cancellation compensation: Costs overview

A significant risk of enforcing compensation claims are the legal costs that can be incurred. In Germany, for example, as the plaintiff you must pay all court and legal fees in the event your case is unsuccessful. Therefore, it must be considered carefully whether you want to claim against the airline yourself as you would have to take on this financial risk. If claiming independently is not for you, MYFLYRIGHT’s services may be a better option. We pay out the refund immediately upon receiving all the relevant documents.

In our experience, approximately 50 % of all cases we receive end up in court, which can not only be costly, but also time-consuming and difficult to cope with.

To outline the costs involved if your case goes to court in Germany, below you will find an example case with a claim value of 800 € and all the associated costs:

Refund claim / amount in dispute 800 €
Agreement None
First instance
Court fees: 159.00 €
Lawyer (plaintiff) 261.80 €
Lawyer (defendant) 261.80 €
Total (cost risk) 682.60 €

If you still wish to pursue your case independently, the following section will help you with the process.

Flight cancellation refund: how to claim

When enforcing your claim on your own, it is necessary to follow certain steps and procedures.

Step 1. Cancel the flight in writing, either by mailing a letter or via email, as soon as you know you will not fly. The sooner you cancel, the higher the chance the airline is able resell your ticket and a refund of up to 95% of the ticket price will be provided to you. It is recommended to set a deadline for this reimbursement – 2-3 weeks is the regular period.

If you decide to mail the letter, use registered post as this will prove when the airline received it. This can be used as strong evidence for your case, in the event it goes to court.

The letter should include the following:

Step

Address of the complaint center of the airlineDate of departure
Date of arrivalDeparture airport
Flight number Destination airport
Booking number Transit airport
Date of the cancellation Account details

If you receive no response form your letter within the set deadline, go to Step 2.

Step 2. You now have the option of sending the airline another letter, enlisting legal services, or using MYFLYRIGHT to pursue your case. When sending a second letter, set a deadline again for 2-3 weeks and don’t forget to use registered post.

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IMPORTANT: If at any time the airline rejects your claim for compensation, you can immediately initiate legal action and you do not need to wait for the deadlines. Do not let the statements of the airline unsettle you. Before you give up, always remember that you can still enforce your claim through MYFLYRIGHT.

Step 3. In the event that, after sending a second letter to the airline, you still receive no response, you can file a lawsuit using legal services or MYFLYRGHT can take care of your claim. With our service, there is no financial risk involved, plus we save you the time and energy it takes to enforce your rights.

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