Can you recover taxes and charges from airlines when you don’t travel?

Small palm tree, via Steve Hedley's restitution siteYes, you can. If you book to travel with an airline, and pay their fee plus government taxes and airport charges, but if you then don’t travel, so that the taxes are not due and the charges are not incurred, you are entitled to recover those taxes and charges from the airline. If the contract between you and the airline contains a clause either making them irrecoverable or imposing disproportionately high administration fees to recover them, that clause is unenforceable (on foot of the European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) Regulations, 1995 (SI No 27 of 1995). I have already discussed this matter here, here, and here. Those posts discuss the ongoing campaign by the National Consumer Agency against airlines which refuse to refund such taxes and charges, or which impose disproportionately high administration fees when non-travelling passengers seek to recover them. In the Irish Times recently, Ciarán Hancock reported on the next stage of that campaign:

Airlines retain €28m in taxes and charges on unfilled flight seats

The National Consumer Agency (NCA) is seeking to clip the wings of Irish airlines who pocket taxes and airport charges paid by passengers who do not travel on flights they have booked. About €28 million a year in these taxes and charges is retained by the airlines in Ireland. The agency says it believes this practice to be “unfair” and is considering seeking a “determination” from the High Court. At present, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Aer Arann and other carriers apply administration fees for the refund of Government taxes and airport charges. …

In September, Air Tax Back Ltd was formed in Dublin to administer claims with airlines for consumers in Ireland and abroad. It is currently handling 50 claims regarding Ryanair and Aer Lingus, according to co-founder Brian Whelan. …

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