Flight refund hack – how to cancel your flight for free when your insurance won’t cover you

I have a rare guest post for you. I don’t usually accept articles from other people (they don’t have the range, darling! ha!), but Jon from The Money Shed’s story is really interesting, and there’s nothing I love more than a David v Goliath success. So enjoy!

It used to be different in the olden days…

With all the news of airlines going bust, booking a holiday abroad can seem like one of the riskiest money decisions you can make. Years ago our investment in holidays used to be sound as a pound.

I even remember the days of my parents sending a cheque or postal order off to the holiday company to secure their holiday of choice and everything from that point on was communicated via letter!

There were no holiday companies going bust, or airlines being bought out, it was a far simpler time. Usually, if your holiday goes wrong and the ‘blame’ lies at the customer’s end you can claim on your holiday insurance.

I remember being told countless times that holiday insurance isn’t meant to cover the actual holiday, it’s to cover the gap between you booking the holiday and you going so that if something goes wrong you are protected.

In the past, I’ve had to use holiday insurance for when a family member has become ill and unable to go, or when I had a bag stolen while on holiday which had a lot of money and some other possessions in it.

We sadly had to cancel our trip to Florida

Recently we have had to sadly cancel our dream trip to Florida as our dog had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and while terminal, he was going to have chemotherapy.

This left us in quite a position as our holiday insurance only covered us if a family member was ill and our pet insurance we needed to use for the chemo treatment.

As you can see from above, a family dog is not classed as a ‘close relative’, so what do you do when you risk losing thousands of pounds on a holiday and no one will help you?!

Virgin Atlantic wouldn’t help us

In terms of the resort booking Disney / Attraction Tickets Direct couldn’t have been more helpful and moved our holiday to the following year, however, we hit a bit of a roadblock when it came to the flights.

Virgin Atlantic, who we had booked through directly with, offered us the ability to move the flights but at the cost of £150 Per Person PLUS the price difference.

So if you had a family of four, you would be looking at £600 just for the ‘admin fee’ alone.

This really wound me up as in no way would moving us from seats on one plane to another of their planes constitute £600 worth of work at their end.

The agent at Virgin Atlantic was talking to me about how I could claim on the holiday insurance, unaware of the fact that even though I mentioned it was a dog they weren’t going to payout.

It got me wondering if these companies add on these ‘admin costs’ for cancellations / re-bookings because they think most people would have insurance to cover them and so now they charge what they like? Luckily I hit on a solution and it’s a solution that not a lot of people know about!

I came up with a clever solution to beat Virgin Atlantic

I booked the flights nearly 11 months before we were due to fly and over that time I had received quite a lot of emails about the flight times changing.

As more and more of these emails had come in over the year, the flight times for both the departure and the return leg has been pushed back and it was with this information I discovered that if your flight is delayed by over 3 hours you are entitled to a full refund.

This meant that I could then rebook the new flights at a time when maybe there was a sale on and getting the most value out of that refund but, most importantly, there would be no £150 per person admin fee!

Remember this if you ever need to cancel your flight for free

So the next time you start getting emails about flight changes, keep an eye on those times. If it’s moved more than 3 hours in total you are entitled to a full refund, which when the worst happens and you need to reschedule or cancel your holiday completely, this will be an EU law that you want to take advantage of!


  1. Sabina Green January 21, 2020
  2. Anosa January 22, 2020
  3. Jenni January 22, 2020
  4. Kara Guppy January 23, 2020

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