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Cancelling Flights: This is how you get (Some of Your) Money Back


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Travel plans can often change, especially if you book very early. While booking, however, you seldom think about the worst-case scenario. If it nevertheless happens and you can’t go on your trip – what then? This is what we’ll show you in this post!

Is my Ticket Even Refundable?

If you haven’t thought about the question if a ticket is refundable or not, you probably also don’t know where to find that piece of information.

Generally, your ticket will not be refundable. Flexible tickets will charge you a hefty surcharge, that will make the ticket cost multiple times more than the cheapest price.

Before Booking

Before you book your ticket, all the airlines will show you the cancellation policy quite clearly. It is very rare, that these policies won’t be shown. Here’s an example of Lufthansa‘s website:

lh cancellation policy
Cancellation conditions at Lufthansa depending on the ticket type

Should you not be able to directly see the cancellation policies, taking a look at the fare rules will help. There, you’ll have to search for Cancellations.

Thai Airways Cancellations Tarifkonditionen Neu
Cancellation Fee at Thai Airways

Sometimes you’ll have to search a bit, but it is always possible to see the cancellation policies before booking.


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However, be careful: Often, the cancellation fee is per direction. This is definitely the case for LOT, but also in the example above for Thai Airways.

After Booking

If you’ve already booked your ticket, then you should be able to find a note about the policies of your ticket in the booking confirmation. If you can’t find anything about a possible cancellation, then you can view your booking online by clicking on something like Edit Booking or Manage My Booking, and see if your ticket is refundable, and under what conditions.

lh cancellation after

In most cases, you can also click on“Cancel Booking” and will then be shown, in the next step, how much money you’d get back.

If your airline shows nothing at all, you’ll usually have to call them to ask.


Many airlines (e.g. United, American Airlines, KLM) and online travel agencies (e.g. let you cancel your flights within 24 hours from the moment in which you booked the flights, as long as you’re booking at least 7 days prior to the flight’s departure date.

united 24 hours

In the USA, this is required by law. Nevertheless, many airlines offer this without there being a legal obligation.


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Easyjet also lets you cancel within 24 hours, they do, however, charge a fee. This only makes sense, if your ticket was more expensive than the fee itself.

easyjet 24 hours
24-hours-cancellation at Easyjet


Tipp: Some airlines, e.g. Lufthansa, offer the 24-hour cancellation period, but only inofficially. You need to call them to cancel. This is, however, not stated anywhere on their website, so we can’t guarantee that this will always work.

Non-Refundable Flight – What Options are There?

What happens if you purchased a ticket that is not refundable? What options are there to at least get some money back?

Transfer Flight to Another Person

The option of transferring your ticket to another person makes sense. Why not simply resell the ticket and thus at least get some of your expenditure back? Transferring tickets is something, however, where the airline conditions differ strongly.

Some airlines, for instance, don’t allow ticket transfers at all, e.g. Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, and more.

Many low-cost carriers allow transferring tickets, but their fees are often higher than the cost of booking a new ticket.

easyjet name change
Name change at Easyjet

Checking the airline’s FAQs or giving them a call should be helpful. That way, you’ll also find out if you’ll have to pay the price difference to the current price of the ticket. If that’s the case, this whole thing becomes quite pointless. By the way, Easyjet and Ryanair do not charge the price difference for their tickets!

If a ticket transfer is possible, then you could also sell it on eBay. It is, however, questionable if that will get you more money than simply getting your fees & taxes back, as described in the following section.

Getting Personal Fees & Taxes Back

Many countries have laws, which force the airlines to refund the fees & taxes (e.g. airport tax) if you don’t fly. Many airlines, however, won’t do this without stalling – many simply don’t even reply. This is especially the case for low-cost carriers. In such a situation, it might be a good idea to contact an online-claim-portal.

Cancellation Insurance?

Should you not be able to fly because of an illness, cancellation insurances could save the day and cover the costs. In some cases, this is even possible when a close relative becomes ill or dies. It does, however, strongly depend on the insurance’s terms & conditions. Often, you’ll be insured through your credit card – so always be sure to check your card’s conditions.


There are countless options for you to at least get part of your money back when you have/want to cancel. It is rarely the case, that you won’t get any money back at all.

Translated by: Ditmar Lange

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