You can’t board a flight without going through the screening line: the TSA scans you and checks your luggage. And each time you buy a ticket you help pay for that security. It’s called the “September 11 security fee” and it’s automatically added to the price of your flight.

But what if you change your plans or can’t use your ticket? You still paid that fee!

I think everybody assumed that it’s a non-refundable ticket you don’t use it too bad, you’re

out of luck, you’re out of all the money you paid for the ticket.

We’re not talking a ton of money. The max fee is ten dollars for one round-trip ticket. But still! For a family of five, that’s fifty bucks!

But here’s what even frequent fliers don’t know–even on a non-refundable ticket you’re entitled to get that money back!

Paul Aussendorf, Government Accountability Office

“When we looked at it, the law’s pretty clear those are refundable fees!”

Yup. The feds say: You never went through security—so you don’t have to pay for it.

But passengers rarely ask airlines for that money back because they don’t know they can!

Airline Passenger

“Has anyone ever told you that? No!”

Airline Passenger

“I didn’t know that, not at all, they keep that hidden!”

Part of the confusion: airlines aren’t required to notify consumers – and they usually don’t! We checked websites of the major carriers and looked under “refunds” – and didn’t find a thing about refunds for the TSA fee!

Airline Passenger

“I think it’s terrible that they don’t tell you that.”

So how do you get your money back? Just ask for it!

If you can’t use your non-refundable ticket be sure to tell the airline you do want a refund of that security fee.

We found the airlines don’t get to keep the money from this fee–It all actually goes to the TSA to help pay for security. How much has TSA been paid for screenings that didn’t happen? The feds tell us: they have no idea.

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