Ever missed a flight due to a late train, traffic jam, or simply oversleeping? Regardless of the reason, you can claim back a significant portion of your air fare even if it was your fault you missed the flight. 

Thankfully missing a flight is rare, but it does happen, and when it does it can be a costly and stressful  experience. A little known rule means that those flying from UK airports can claim back a portion of their ticket even if it was their fault they missed the flight.

Airfares are more complicated than other modes of transport. Ticket prices include add-ons such as prefered seats, checked baggage, priority boarding, and even credit card surcharges. A slice of this fare is the Air Passenger Duty. Essentially, this is a tax for leaving Britain by air. The cost of Air Passenger Duty has slowing been creeping up over the years, and can now be as much as £73 for long haul economy flights.

The tax is collected by the airline as part of your ticket costs but isn't paid to the government until after you fly. If you miss your flight, it's not paid at all which means you can claim it back. Currently, airlines are sitting on a stockpile of over £300m in unclaimed duty.

How to claim back Air Passenger duty

There is no golden rule or blanket approach for claiming back Air Passenger Duty. Each airline has their own procedure and rules, so be sure to check the terms and conditions of your ticket. As you'd expect some airlines are more helpful than others. Here's a quick table on the fees and time limits of a few of the most popular airlines. If yours isn't listed your best bet is call its customer services department.

The amount of APD you paid should be shown on your booking receipt. In some instances, the fees charged by airlines can be higher than the amount claimed, which is just down right ridiculous.

Fee Time limit Claim via
Ryanair £17 1 month Online form
Easyjet Free None 0330 365 5000
Flybe £25 None Refund form
Virgin Atlantic £30 None 0344 209 7777
British Airways £15-30 None manage my booking

The table above shows that all is not equal when it comes to Air Passenger Duty. Ryanair for example charge a £17 fee for claiming APD, and as such do not consider any refunds below this amount. Since most of their flights are short haul (less than 2,000), this means there are very few instances where one can claim for a single ticket.

Instead the company simply pockets the money. In fact in 2003 Ryanair made £5,000,000 from APD alone.

In contrast, Easyjet does not charge an admin fee on APD refunds, nor does it set any time limits for claims. We think that is something to be commended.

The highest air travel tax in the world

Air Passenger Duty was first introduced in 1994 and stood at £5 for short haul flights and £10 for everything else. Since then the cost has risen over 500% to £13 for short haul flights, and £73 for long haul travel. That makes it one of the most expensive travel taxes anywhere in the world. Only 6 other European nations charge a similar amount, with France and Germany being less than half that (£3.90/£8.90 – £5.70/£32.10 respectively).

Getting the best price on your flights

There's no shortage of flight comparison websites out there, all aimed at finding you the absolute best price on your desired flights. But before you head on over to Skyscanner or similar, take a look at our guide to bagging cheap flights.

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