How to Get a Tax Refund on Your Airline Ticket

Airline Ticket Tax Refunds

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE (8-5-11): The newly updated IRS website now says there will be no tax refunds for flyers; here is the money quote: “As a result of the bill Congress passed today, passengers who purchased tickets prior to July 23 and traveled between July 23 and the date of enactment of today’s legislation are not entitled to a refund of the airline ticket excise tax.”

UPDATE (8-4-11): An agreement has been reached to fund the FAA and a vote is expected Friday. This means FAA employees who were temporarily furloughed could go back to work soon and it could also mean an end to the so-called “airline ticket tax holiday” at least through mid-September. Many airlines raised prices during this “holiday” period (Alaska and Spirit were notable exceptions) and the question now is will prices drop? They will if people stop buying tickets. Meanwhile, keep reading to see if you are due a refund.

EARLIER: If you purchased a ticket during the “tax holiday” period which began July 23 and is still underway as of this writing, you did not pay a lot of the usual taxes that are added on to every airline ticket. However, since most of the airlines hiked prices during this period, you didn’t see any savings. Alaska Airlines and Spirit were notable exceptions to the price hike stampede.

Read: Airlines Benefit from Ticket Tax Holiday – Not Passengers

For you, there is no refund because you did not pay the tax. But some passengers will get some money back.

Who is Eligible for an Airline Ticket Tax Refund?

If you bought your ticket on or before July 22 for travel during the tax holiday period (which began July 23 and is still underway,) you are eligible for a refund of the taxes that were temporarily lifted.

It can add up to a nice sum, too. Taxes can be as much as 15% of the total price of your ticket.

Listen as FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney and editor Anne McDermott talk about who gets a refund, who doesn’t, and who might actually owe money!

How to Get an Airline Ticket Tax Refund

At the moment, the process of getting a refund remains somewhat murky. The IRS is suggesting the airlines should take over this responsibility, since they have all the ticket information, while many carriers are referring refund-seekers to the IRS website.

Delta, meanwhile, says it will indeed process refund requests, but the airline also notes that there is currently no procedure in place to do this. As it says on the airline’s website:

  • “Delta is awaiting guidelines from the IRS”

Here are four things you should do in the meantime:

  1. Hang onto your tickets and/or receipts
  2. Keep checking the IRS website
  3. Monitor updates from your airline’s website
  4. Keep checking FareCompare, as we will update you as this issue progresses.

Airline Contact Information for Refunds

Here is a list of airlines and what each is saying (if anything) about tax refunds. Click each name to be linked to its specific refund policy; if none can be found on the website, you’ll be linked to the carriers contact information.

  • American: “Direct refund requests to the IRS”
  • AirTran: No specific refund information
  • Alaska: “We are working on a process” for refunds
  • Delta: Refund information to be posted “when available”
  • Frontier: File a claim “through the IRS”
  • Hawaiian: Submit your claim “directly to the IRS”
  • JetBlue: Submit a claim “directly to the IRS”
  • Southwest: Per media reports, “contact the IRS”
  • Spirit: Refund requests “should be sent to the IRS”
  • United/Continental: “Contact the IRS”
  • US Airways: No specific refund information
  • Virgin America: Contact the IRS


Published: August 2, 2011