Of course, it can happen that you need to cancel booked flights at short notice either because your personal travel plans have changed or for work or even health reasons.
If you cancel the flight, airlines are generally only prepared to reimburse a fraction of the price of the air ticket (frequently less than 10%). If you have booked your flight via an agency portal, e.g. ebookers, Skyscanner or Expedia, they generally add a flat-rate cancellation fee that is deducted from the amount to be reimbursed. In the end, the air passenger is fobbed off with a few euros.
However, air passengers are actually entitled to a refund of the taxes and fees included in the price of the air ticket. These are not incurred if an air passenger does not travel on the flight booked originally – they can therefore also not be retained by the airline. In particular for cheap flights or flights booked long in advance, taxes and fees make up the lion’s share of the price of the ticket.
Air passengers can also obtain a refund on the actual price of the carriage. The airline must prove that it was unable to sell the vacant seat to another person. According to a recent court decision, if it cannot prove this, it can be assumed that the airline was able to sell the seat at least at the price charged to the original air passenger. This means a refund claim of 100%.