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.

FeeTime limitClaim via
Ryanair£171 monthOnline form
EasyjetFreeNone0330 365 5000
Flybe£25NoneRefund form
Virgin Atlantic£30None0344 209 7777
British Airways£15-30Nonemanage my booking
Delta020 7660 0767


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.


  • Margaret Blackwell

    did not turn up for flight DL4413 on 16th December 2021 LHR to JFK. can I claim air passenger duty and if so through who?

    • Carl Michael

      Hi Margaret. Your first port of call would be airline themselves. I always like to contact via Twitter @Delta I find it easier to get a response, but the UK number to call is 0871 221 1222. 0871 numbers can cost up to 13p/min. I found the number 020 7660 0767 which is a London number for all enquiries.

  • Leo Charles

    4 missed flights please could you respomdbto me about this so I can try and solve this never ending dilemma

    • Carl Michael

      Leo, If you booked via an agent then they would be your first point of contact. if you booked directly, then you will need to contact the airlines involved and tell them you want to claim back the air passenger duty of the flights you missed.

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