I feel like I’ve been in this situation more times than I’d like to admit – I’ve booked a flight, I swear I’ve triple checked everything, then I get the confirmation…and the sinking feeling of dread hits when I realise I’ve booked the wrong dates! How does this happen? Maybe it’s the excitement of planning a trip, perhaps it’s the fact that there are so many things to consider when booking a flight these days (to check or not check my bag? Is it worth going Premium Economy? Do I really need insurance?), or maybe you’re just human. Mistakes happen. That would be just fine, but this can be a pretty pricey mistake to make, and it doesn’t help that airlines don’t tend to give us clear information on what we can do here. Whatever the reason behind it, if you need to cancel your flight ticket, you actually do have rights! Moreover, it’s possible to get a ticket refund, or at least some of your well-earned cash back.
I decided to break this down into handy, bite-sized pieces so you know what your options are when cancelling a flight.
Are there cancellation deadlines?
The short answer is no. So, whether you’ve just booked your ticket for a trip in 6 months’ time or you realise you can’t travel on the day of the flight, you still have the right to cancel. Because of your passenger rights, you’re allowed to ‘break your contract’ with the airline whenever you want. And – this is something I was really surprised about – by law, you shouldn’t be charged a cancellation fee. I think this is one of the biggest fears we have when we need to cancel, so this made me sigh with relief!
Can I get a full ticket refund?
This depends on a few factors. Firstly, let’s see what actually makes up the cost of a flight ticket – there always seem to be so many extra fees, which can get pretty confusing. Basically, there are 3 parts: the base fare, taxes and fees. You should always get the taxes and fees back, whatever the situation. You would also get the base fare (meaning you’ll get a full ticket refund) if the airline can prove they couldn’t sell your ticket to another passenger. So, it depends – but bear in mind the fees and taxes can make up to as much as 70% of the price you paid, so it’s possible you could get most of your money back.
What about non-refundable tickets?
Sadly, with these tickets you’re often out of luck – and this is usually clearly stated in the airline’s terms and conditions when you go for the cheaper, non-refundable option. All is not lost, though, as there are still those taxes and fees which you’re entitled to get back!
Can I get help claiming?
It’s understandable that claiming against the airline alone can be daunting – even if you’re confident you have a case, the time, effort and cost of doing it yourself takes its toll. To make things easier, there are online companies like MYFLYRIGHT who make your claim for you. All you need are your documents and you can make sure everything is dealt with from the comfort of your own home. No court fees, no deciphering legalese, just a few clicks and your passenger rights are taken care of.
One last thing – if you found yourself in this situation a while ago, you may still be able to claim. Depending on the country, there’s a timeframe in which you can get refunded – in the U.K. you have 6 years!
I hope this has been helpful for my fellow travellers. In the future, if you make a mistake when booking or you just can’t make it to your flight, remember you can at least get some of your money back and your passenger rights are protected.