I note that the refund of tax on cancelled fights has raised its ugly head again. See the More on this story panel.
The oft-repeated complaint is that airlines charge high administration fees and generally make it difficult for passengers to reclaim the tax. Passengers then give up the struggle and the airline keeps the tax. Of one thing you can be sure, unless you actually fly or are a no-show, the airline does not pay the tax over to the government.
The rules here are very clear. Airline passenger taxes are applicable to valid (and un-cancelled) tickets at the time of departure. If you cancel your ticket, you are entitled to any refund specified in your contract plus a return of all the paid-in-advance passenger taxes.
The airline is entitled to charge an administration fee for processing the refund. The law says that the fee must be representative of the true costs of processing the tax refund and must not be a hidden cancellation penalty. The difficulty will always be in establishing a true (fair and reasonable) level of cost and it is here that the airlines tend to take advantage.
From my personal experience, I have successfully reclaimed the tax on two aborted bookings to the USA. Both were with Virgin Atlantic and both were handled very efficiently and at a (in my view) quite reasonable cost.
I have a lso had cancelations on budget airline flights within Europe. I gave up on the first of these and did not even bother with the others. The sums of money involved were obviously smaller but the aggravation level was much higher.
I am sorry to have to admit to being a wimp but the budget airlines wore me down.
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Mrs Brenda Knight
12 July 2010, 10:28AM
I have to say that Easyjet were excellent when we had to cancel last year due to father's illness. I am not sure how much they charged but they were really kind to me over the phone and took care of everything to send me a welcome cheque.
12 July 2010, 12:16PM
Airlines clearly make the process difficult to deter passengers from claiming. I would be interested in knowing the accumulated figures of unclaimed passenger taxes.
JennyLamb, United Kingdom
12 July 2010, 01:56PM
Some of the blame for this type of situation should fall on the government for the awful way in which they handle VAT reclaims on expenditure in other EU member states.
10 August 2010, 12:50PM
I've just been told by FlyBe that it will cost £50 to refund my £51.94 tax, leaving me with £1.94!
Barbara McCartney, Wirral
21 December 2010, 08:24PM
I cancelled my flight to Florida November 2010 due to doctors advice.My ticket cost 480.00.Of this 235.00 was tax.I have requested a refund of the tax and have been informed the refund would only be 90.00 which is the governments portion.This has not materialised.They were in a position to resell these tickets and as I did not fly how can I be liable for tax.I flew with Delta and they tell me it is my travel agent who should refund the tax.How true this isI do not know.My travel agent is USA Airtours.They state Delta has not replied to their request.Delta states they have no record of a request.Who is holding the tax? Can anyone advise me please .I am a pensioner 77 years old and cannot afford to lose this money.
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