A few months ago I booked a flight with American Airlines. My flight departs in a few weeks from Amsterdam to Philadelphia. It's just a regular ticket I just bought from the AA website without any special things like insurances or upgrades. Because of personal reasons I unfortunately have to cancel my flight.

If I try the cancel button on the American Airlines website I get an error message saying that they are unable to process my request and that I have to call the airline if I want to cancel my flight.

The ticket says it's a non-refundable ticket, but it also says that if it's being cancelled that I have to do it before a certain date (which I can't find anywhere on the ticket for some reason...It's a bit confusing to me) so before I make a call to the airline to cancel my flight, I would like to know if I have any right to get any money back. If so, how will I be able to get that money back? I can't find a clear answer anywhere on the website for when I want to cancel it myself, I only find my rights if it is being cancelled by the airline itself.

So basically my question: is there any way I get any money back when I cancel the ticket by myself?

Here's the ticket which I get when I download it from the website. The ticket I got in my e-mail is all in Dutch so I don't think it adds much value if I post that here.

Update (June 2017)

By filling in the right form at https://prefunds.aa.com/refunds/ , I managed to get back around €100 of unused airport taxes and stuff like that, so I basically lost only 2/3rd of the amount I paid. Better than nothing and actually more than I expected!

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  • @JonathanReez did an update to my post! I also got a Dutch ticket which tells the non-refundable thing but it's all in Dutch so I don't think it add much value if I post that. I can translate it if necessary but that'd be some work so I would like to know if that's necessary before I do so.
    – Markinson
    Apr 3, 2017 at 11:16
  • Couple of things - firstly legal questions are off topic here, secondly if you want to ask a second question then you need to open a brand new post on it. That allows questions to be targeted, and you won't have all your questions closed as "off topic" if one of them is deemed to be off topic.
    – user29788
    Apr 3, 2017 at 11:42
  • 1
    Well if you had then you might not have lost your air fare. More importantly, the company are the only ones in a position to give you an authoritative answer to this question. Travel.SE is not really the best place to ask about an agreement that you entered into! Apr 3, 2017 at 15:19
  • 1
    Perhaps this should be retitled to "Can I recover anything from a non-refundable ticket". The current version of the question isn't very useful as you just need to repeat the definition of "non-refundable" which is basically what the top-voted answer currently does. Technically correct but I assume OP knew that much already and is instead asking about other approaches such as politely contacting the airline or whether consumer protection laws can come into play.
    – Lilienthal
    Apr 4, 2017 at 8:19
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    @Lilienthal You're correct here. I know that I'm most likely just screwed, I just want to see if there's anything that I can get back in any way, even though it's a non-refundable ticket. I changed the title because it applies better indeed.
    – Markinson
    Apr 4, 2017 at 8:24

2 Answers 2


It is likely that only the airport and government taxes are refundable on this fare. I can't actually find an O fare to see the fare rules that might be applicable, but the nearest I can find is an S fare. Since you're transiting through London and they have high passenger service charges you might get up to about 100 Euro back.

An alternative would be to change the flight. Again, since I can't find an O fare I can't be certain of the rules, but an S fare from AMS charges 180 Euro to change, plus the fare difference. Since it looks like you got the cheapest fare imaginable, the fare difference could be substantial though.

AA does allow you to cancel a fare and store the remainder after the change fee for some types of fare, typically US originating.


A non-refundable ticket is just that, non-refundable.

That means you get no money back if you cancel the flight, ONLY if the airline cancels the flight (and then not always, depending on the reasons for cancelation as set down in the contract of carriage and applicable law).

The latest cancelation date is likely a generic statement that's there for all tickets, including refundable ones (which are refundable only before a set interval prior to the flight's departure).

The Dutch version of the ticket would tell you the same thing, with possibly a clause about EU regulations regarding passenger rights on flights departing the EU (which also don't count for you, as they only apply to delays and cancelations by the airline).

  • 9
    "A non-refundable ticket is just that, non-refundable." I don't think this is true as stated. I certainly have gotten partial refunds (future credit) out of non-refundable tickets before. It depends on the exact fare rules and the way you book it.
    – Hilmar
    Apr 3, 2017 at 13:26
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    Might want to point out that even though its non-refundable, most airlines will allow you to use the cost of the tickets on a future flight, up to a year later.
    – Andy
    Apr 3, 2017 at 13:52
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    Perhaps "a non-refundable ticket means you have no right to a refund" would be more accurate. An airline may (for some value of "may" that probably varies wildly) choose to give a refund and/or a credit-note for another flight, but that would be at their discretion.
    – TripeHound
    Apr 3, 2017 at 15:38
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    Depending on the reason for cancellation and the airline, sometimes you may be able to get a refund even for non-refundable fare. I once got an (almost) full refund on a non-refundable, non-exchangeable ticket that I purchased for a family member, who could not fly due to being in hospital after a heart attack. I lost something around EUR 50 from the full price of about EUR 500. I had to get a letter from the hospital for this one, though.
    – Aleks G
    Apr 3, 2017 at 15:45
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    @Hilmar: I always interpreted "refundable" to mean "money back" (perhaps with a change fee deducted.) Credit towards future flights is not the same thing as a refund. Apr 3, 2017 at 17:18

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