Are Non-Refundable Flights Lawful?


Whilst low-cost air travel may seem like a great idea for a cheap holiday, it is worth noting that you may not get your money back in the event that you have to cancel your trip. Furthermore, a lot of budget airlines advertise a low price for the actual flight, but charge their customers nearly 30 per cent extra if they wish to check in baggage and pay by credit card.
Then there’s the Air Passenger Duty (APD), or flight tax. If you purchase a flight that is ‘non-refundable’, you may expect not to get the cost of your flight back, but what about the APD? Unfortunately, you could lose this money too. Some airlines claim that the ‘administration’ involved in reclaiming this money costs more than the amount of the tax.
Although the airline may then sell your empty seat to someone else, who will also have to pay the same amount of APD, it will only be liable to pay one person’s tax, so it gets to pocket the rest. Although this is unfair, it is not illegal, and those making travel arrangements should be especially careful when purchasing flights that involve multiple legs. If you book flights using a 'point to point' airline and miss your connecting flight due to late arrival, the airline whose late arrival causes you to miss your flight will have no liability to you. In addition, you will be charged tax on each flight, none of which is likely to be refundable. Similarly, if you are seeking to claim on your travel insurance for a lost flight, the insurance company is quite likely not to pay the APD element of your claim. If in doubt, you should always check the airline's terms and conditions before you book.
If as a consumer you feel you have been treated unfairly, contact us for advice.

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