Missed a flight? Don’t miss out on this tax refund

Even if it’s your fault you don’t make the plane in time, you can still get part of the fare back – whatever the reason you don’t fly.

A few weeks back I was due to fly from London to Los Angeles with my wife Becky. Some bargain Norwegian Air flights would get us there, and the idea was to have a relaxing week off to explore the wine country. I’d then do a little work on the blog by the beach (the beauty of this “job” is I can do it anywhere in the world!), before Becky headed home and I went on to a personal finance blogger conference in Dallas. All very exciting, and we were really looking forward to it.

But as the flight day got closer we were getting more and more stressed. There were a number things going on and we were knackered. Primarily I’d been working day and night to organise the annual UK Money Bloggers conference two weeks before – and the work on it didn’t stop after the conference happened! On top of this was a backlog of emails and articles for Be Clever With You Cash and a bunch of freelance work I needed to do, plus some preparation that would allow me to work on the blog while away. Becky too was really busy at work and we had a series of family events to attend. All this meant there was a lot of other stuff we needed to do, general life admin, which was piling up. Two days before we were due to fly, we knew if we went we would be worrying about everything we hadn’t done.

So what to do? Well we felt it was in our best interests not to go. I was able to cancel all the hotels without charge (I’ll write more about this another time), and I managed to also cancel the car hire penalty free with just 10 minutes to spare.

But the flights were non-changeable and non-refundable – which is what you get when you buy the cheapest option! And since we decided not to travel, rather than have illness or injury preventing the trip, the travel insurance wouldn’t cover it.

However at the back of my mind I knew you could claim back taxes on flights. The tax is called Air Passenger Duty, and though you pay it up front, airlines can’t keep it if you don’t actually make the plane.

Claiming back Air Passenger Duty for missed flights

A quick Google and here’s what I found:

  • The refund is only valid if your ticket is for a flight from a UK airport
  • You have to claim it back – it won’t be automatically refunded
  • You don’t have to have cancelled your flight, you can get it if you miss it for any reason
  • Some unscrupulous airlines will charge an admin fee (Hello there RyanAir, I’m looking at you)
  • Some airlines will also put a time limit on how long you can claim for (Hello again RyanAir. Why am I not surprised?)
  • The process if different for each airline

It was actually really easy to claim the tax back from Norwegian Air. On its site there are different forms to fill in depending on whether you’ve cancelled or just missed the flight. The form took a minute to fill in only required our booking reference and flight number. Two hours later we’d received confirmation that we’d be getting £228 back in taxes – so £114 each.

We still lost out on £175 (fortunately it was a very cheap flight), which wasn’t great. And our replacement flights were much more expensive at such short notice.  But at least when we did head off a week later we were able to go away ready to enjoy ourselves.

Which we did, though I’ve plenty more to write about for this trip, including car hire cons, medical claims on travel insurance, hotel price matching and new ways to pay fee-free overseas! I’ll share these over the next few months.

>> Here’s a reminder of why I never publicise that I’m going on holiday before or whilst I’m away


One thought on “Missed a flight? Don’t miss out on this tax refund

  1. Wow, I had no idea this was even possible. Thanks for bringing this up! And well done on getting some money back too. What a shame you couldn’t go on the trip, but at least that’s some consolation.


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