Which airlines offer refundable tickets to Australia?

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This is how you get your money back if you can't fly

Dr. Britta Beate Schön
Legal Expert As of April 01, 2021

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip. The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]

  • For every missed or missed flight, you can reclaim all taxes and airport charges, even if the airline's general terms and conditions say otherwise.

  • Flat-rate fees for processing a cancellation are not permitted.

  • According to the Federal Court of Justice, the airline does not have to reimburse the ticket price, even if it was able to sell your seat to another passenger.

  • Cancel your flight as early as possible or try to rebook the flight.
  • Use our sample letter to ask the airline to reimburse taxes and fees. You have three years to do this.

For download

If you were unable to fly because of the corona pandemic, you are entitled to a refund of the ticket costs. This also applies to tickets that could not be canceled. You can read more about this in the guide to airline ticket reimbursement due to Corona.

If you have canceled, missed and not rebooked your flight yourself, you definitely can Taxes and Fees demand back - that often amounts to a few hundred euros.

Is there a refund if you cancel the flight?

If you book a flight, you sign a so-called with the airline Air Carriage Contract from. In fact, that's a Work contract and no travel contract (BGH, judgment of February 16, 2016, Az. X ZR 97/14). As a passenger, you can therefore sign such a contract cancel anytime (§ 648 BGB). But some airlines write in their general terms and conditions (GTC) that a right of termination is excluded. That’s allowed.

Taxes and Airport Charges

For every missed or missed flight, you canall taxes and airport charges reclaim. The airline does not have to pay it itself until the passenger has taken the flight. If the guest does not fly, the airline saves the taxes; It must therefore reimburse the customer, but not automatically, but only when the customer requests it (Section 648 sentence 2 BGB).

When specifying the flight price, the airline must the price exactly break down in airport charges, taxes, surcharges, fees and the ticket price (ECJ, judgment of July 6, 2017, case C-290/16). So you know exactly how much you can claim back. Airport charges and taxes make up a significant proportion of the total ticket price. Use our sample letter for this.

Example: For a flight from Munich to Perth in Australia in 2020, the base rate was around 420 euros. In addition, there were around 620 euros in taxes, airport and other fees, well over half of the total amount.

Some airlines refuse Refund taxes and fees. The courts do not uniformly assess whether this is permissible. Easyjet has for example stated in its terms and conditions that English law should apply to all passengers: According to this, airlines do not have to repay fees and taxes if the passenger does not take the flight. Such a choice of law is permissible, ruled the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court (December 13, 2018, Az. 16 U 15/18).

The Nuremberg District Court has the question of when an airline's choice of law is permissible vis-à-vis a consumer European Court of Justice submitted for clarification (decision of September 14, 2020, Az. 240 C 2134/20).

Fuel surcharge

Many airlines do not reimburse the kerosene or fuel surcharges if the passenger does not take the trip. Refunds are usually excluded in the small print. However, this does not have to be effective (AG Erding, judgment of October 11, 2018, Az. 4 C 2612/18). Therefore, from our point of view, you can also demand such surcharges back if you are not flying.

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When are you entitled to the ticket price?

The pure flight costs are often not reimbursed, namely not if the airline has excluded cancellation in its general terms and conditions. But in some cases you canup to 95 percent reclaim the ticket price. If the airline has assigned your seat to someone else, it must deduct these revenues as it has not suffered any economic damage. However, customers often have to fight hard for this money. And that doesn't work with all tariffs either.

The Cologne District Court, for example, has ordered an airline to reimburse 95 percent of the ticket price. A planned family flight to America cost just under 3,500 euros (AG Cologne, judgment of September 19, 2016, Az. 142 C 222/16).

The airline must provewhether and - if so - at what price she was able to resell the canceled flight tickets to third parties. If the airline does not submit a statement, it must reimburse the ticket price. It can then be assumed that the company was able to resell the flight ticket after the cancellation (LG Frankfurt / Main, judgment of June 6, 2014, Az. 2-24 S 152/13).

If the airline only declares that the flight was not fully booked and presents the booking figures upon departure, it must reimburse up to 95 percent of the ticket price (Section 648 sentence 3 BGB). Because that is not enough as evidence out. According to a ruling by the Cologne District Court, it must rather explain how the booking status developed between the cancellation and the flight (September 19, 2016, Az. 142 C 222/16).

No refunds for tickets that cannot be canceled

Airlines often offer different tariffs for a flight to - one fare that customers can cancel and a cheaper fare that customers cannot cancel. The Cologne Regional Court had to judge the following case: Two passengers had chosen a non-cancelable and therefore particularly cheap flight from various offers. Then they canceled the flight.

The judges refused to reimburse the ticket price because the passengers had expressed through their booking that they waived their right to cancel and that the travel price would therefore not be reimbursed if they cancel (LG Cologne, judgment of March 14, 2017, case no. 11 S 263/16; judgment of February 7, 2017, Az. 11 S 15/16).

The plaintiffs did not want to accept the judgment and submitted it to the Federal Court of Justice. The judges agreed with the airline. She did not have to reimburse the ticket price because, according to the BGH, she effectively excluded the possibility of termination (judgment of March 20, 2018, Az. X ZR 25/17).

How do you get your money back?

No airline will reimburse taxes and fees of its own accord if a customer cancels their flight or does not show up. Some airlines, such as Lufthansa, offer the option of applying for a refund online.

Use sample writing

If you do not apply for reimbursement online, you should request the airline in writing to reimburse you for the fees and surcharges. You can use our flight cancellation sample letter for this purpose. It is best to send it as a Registered letter with acknowledgment of receiptto have proof that it actually arrived.

Sample letter for flight cancellation

Here you can see ourSample letter download for refund on flight cancellation:

For download

Even if you booked the ticket through an agent, you should inform yourself about your reimbursement request directly to the airline turn. With some airlines this works without any problems, with others you have to be persistent.

Call in lawyer

You can also claim your money with the help of a lawyer and, if necessary, sue it in court. It is best to choose a lawyer for this Focus on travel law. Legal protection insurance usually covers the cost of this. If you actually have to sue and win the lawsuit, the airline will have to pay the litigation and your legal fees.

Limitation in three years

You can also claim your claims retrospectively for the past three years. For example, if you booked a flight in 2018, paid for it and then canceled it later, you can claim your money back until December 31, 2021.

Travel cancellation insurance

A travel cancellation insurance only pays under certain conditions, for example if the traveler or a close relative falls ill. The relevant insurance conditions, which can differ from insurance to insurance, are decisive. If the airline takes it wrong, you may get the cancellation costs reimbursed by the insurance relatively easily.

Legal service provider paused during the corona pandemic

According to our investigation, we had the legal service provider in the period from September 20 to October 16, 2018 Service geld-fuer-flug.de recommended by Rightnow GmbH. During the corona pandemic, the legal service provider is paused due to the low number of flights.

Are cancellation processing fees allowed?

Many airlines charge a fee for processing the cancellation. Ryanair, for example, charges an administration fee of 20 euros. The Hungarian airline Wizz Air has cancellation fees of 60 euros (as of March 2020). However, such fees are from our point of view not permittedbecause the airline is passing general operating costs on to the passenger who has not used the ticket.

This is because the airline in question unreasonably disadvantages consumers who are exercising their legal rights by canceling the contract. The Berlin Court of Appeal ruled on the general terms and conditions of the now insolvent airline Air Berlin; and this judgment can also be applied to other airlines (judgment of August 12, 2014, Az. 5 U 2/12).

The BGH also considers the cancellation processing fee to be inadmissible (decision of April 21, 2016, Az. I ZR 220/14), but submitted the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). He decided that cancellation processing fees may be inadmissible under German law (judgment of July 6, 2017, Az. C-290/16).

More on this in the legal protection insurance guide

  • You can get good legal protection for less than 300 euros a year.
  • Tariffs recommended by us: Arag Aktiv Komfort, Auxilia Jurprivat, WGV Optimal

To the advisor

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Dr. Britta Beate Schön

Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip. The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]

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