My bank won’t cash this refund check from Aer Lingus


When Christine Gaesser is forced to cancel her flight on Aer Lingus, the airline sends her a refund check that her bank won’t cash and ignores her request for a credit. Can our advocates persuade Aer Lingus to issue Gaesser a refund in a form she can use?

Question: My husband and I made reservations for a flight from Barcelona, Spain, to New York and a transatlantic cruise. But before we could take the trip, my mother died. Our air tickets were nonrefundable and we did not purchase travel insurance, so we did not expect a full refund for our trip costs. However, Aer Lingus assured us that we would be reimbursed for the airport taxes.

I received a check for 80 euros ($94) from Aer Lingus. My bank, WSFS, tried to cash the check through its affiliate, Bank of America, but Bank of America returned the check, advising that it will not cash a check for less than 250 euros ($294). I then emailed Aer Lingus’ customer service twice to request that the refund be issued as a credit on my credit card, but Aer Lingus has not responded.

Can you help me get Aer Lingus to issue a credit to me for the airport taxes? — Christine Gaesser, Glen Mills, Pa.

Answer: My condolences on the loss of your mother and, consequently, your trip. I’m also sorry that you have not been able to secure an airport tax refund from Aer Lingus in a usable form. You don’t need that kind of hassle, especially when you’re in mourning.


Your case is a good example of why you should purchase travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage, because it would have reimbursed you for your airfares, taxes and other costs of your trip. Because you purchased nonrefundable tickets, you forfeited the base fares when you canceled your flights.

Related story:   When you ask for too much, your rightful claim can be overlooked

But even when airfares are nonrefundable, the airport taxes associated with the airfares are refundable. Aer Lingus’ conditions of carriage indicate that “If you do not travel, you may apply in writing for a full refund of taxes, fees and charges paid, in which case the refund may be subject to a reasonable administration charge.” They also provide that “We reserve the right to make a refund in the same manner and the same currency used to pay for the Ticket.”

So Aer Lingus should have issued you the airport tax refund as a credit on the card you used to pay for the tickets the first time you requested the refund. Instead, it issued you an uncashable check and ignored you twice.

After the airline failed to respond to your second request, you might have escalated your complaint using our Aer Lingus executive contacts. Instead, you turned to our advocacy team.

Our advocates reached out to Aer Lingus on your behalf, and you have notified us that Aer Lingus has credited your card with the amount you paid for the airport taxes.


Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    It is very common for US based banks to have ‘limitations’ or ‘restrictions’ on foreign checks and/or currency. When I started to do business internationally, my banker explained to me the process to clear a check written on a foreign bank…it could take up to a month for funds to become available depending upon the banking system of that country. This is why I only accept wire transfers.

    Since we are living in a global economy, I think that it is important for travelers to know that the best refund is a refund on your credit card.

  • finance_tony

    “..a good example of why you should purchase travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage,”

    Kudos to the OP for understanding the terms of the fare, sometimes a rarity. The above statement is debatable; the OP took a calculated risk, understood the rules, and only asked for what was deserved.

    Very interesting about the bank restrictions. As I don’t do banking internationally, I wouldn’t have known about this one caveat for sure.

  • Alan Gore

    Use Chase instead. My mother deposits a small foreign-currency pension check there every month, with no problems. Bank of America is replete with odd bonehead policies like this. Small wonder that when my generation was young, it made a sport out of burning the California branches down.

  • Annie M

    I don’t understand why they didn’t automatically just apply it to the credit card used. Every other type of refund must go to the card used but why this is an exception is odd.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Agree that the statement about buying trip insurance is debatable. Unless you buy high-priced “cancel for any reason” insurance, the likelihood of any of the covered situations occurring is extremely low.

    Yes it’s a gamble, but the odds are very much in the traveler’s favor. Especially frequent travelers, as most of us who comment in this forum are. If I tallied up what I might have spent on trip insurance over my decades of travel, and compared that to the very few times I lost money because I had to cancel a trip, the cost of insurance is hundreds of times more than I might have ever gotten back on claims. And that’s even assuming my claims would have been successful…we’ve all read stories in here of the many times passengers’ seemingly valid claims were denied.

    Condolences to the OP and her family, and I’m glad she got her taxes back.

  • Lindabator

    thank you – even my credit union has no such issues

  • James

    I completely agree that travel insurance is excessively expensive for those of us who are frequent travelers. As we get older and health becomes a bigger issue, consider purchasing the American Express Platinum card, which provides cardholders and their family members with medical-evacuation insurance. Medical evacuations from foreign countries can run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Also, certain other cards include limited trip insurance among their benefits when the card is used to purchase flights. Otherwise, buying trip insurance makes sense for those taking only occasional expensive journeys.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I actually have a better option – DAN (Diver’s Alert Network) insurance. Most of our travel these days involves some diving, and as long as there was diving on the trip, DAN will cover any medical issues, whether dive-related or not, including medical evacuation from foreign countries. And it’s super affordable! Of course you have to be a diver. ;-)

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “I completely agree that travel insurance is excessively expensive for those of us who are frequent travelers.”
    There are annual travel insurance policies…they typically cover basic items like flight delays, lost baggage, etc.

    “Medical evacuations from foreign countries can run in the tens of thousands of dollars.”
    My wife used to arrange medical evacuations from Alaska to Washington. These medical evacuations ran between $ 50,000 to $ 150,000 depending upon the medical condition of the patient with 90,000 to 120,000 being the average..

    “Otherwise, buying trip insurance makes sense for those taking only occasional expensive journeys.”
    The purpose of insurance is to transfer the risk that you are not willing to assume. In other words, how much money can you afford to lose? Someone could afford to lose $ 25,000 on a cruise; whereas, another person could not afford to lose $ 2,500.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “Kudos to the OP for understanding the terms of the fare, sometimes a rarity…the OP took a calculated risk, understood the rules, and only asked for what was deserved.”

    I agree…most OPs will play a wide variety of ‘cards’ to get a refund. This OP has class…she took responsibility for her actions.

  • Asiansm Dan

    Issuing a check to US and Canada customers is a known scam practiced by European Businesses because they all know it cost dearly to cash the check so there is high probability people let go. I heard the same story from several friends and colleagues who felt into the Tourist Trap of Duty Free Tax Return.
    Myself, I got a 269.10$FF check form Louis Vuitton and my bank said it cost 250.00$FF to cash it and it take 4 weeks before the money is available. I said “Forgot it, I keep the check to remind of this Tourist Trap every time I will be tempted by the Duty Free”

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c9d3d2d2fd9f9101f4c01c3c728640d90f5a0861796190f8cc8f20ac4d03315f.jpg

  • Asiansm Dan

    They did it by purpose hoping the check will not cashed!

  • El Dorado Hills

    On the subject of travel insurance, which is discussed frequently on this site. Yes, evacuation insurance can be very important especially if you are in a foreign country where medical services are not up the level they are here n the US. I know of a situation where a friend had to bring a family member home because of an illness. Also, remember, if you are on Medicare it does not provide coverage outside of the country. A family member I was travelling with fell and broke a leg and was hospitalized for a number of days. My travel policy picked up all of the medical expenses. On a domestic flight I don’t normally buy travel insurance, but out of country it is a must.

  • joycexyz

    If you mean the VAT, you have a choice to have it refunded to your credit card.

  • The Original Joe S

    Medicare: We paid while working. Now we pay when retired. AND it covers nothing outside the Empire.
    National Socialistic Security Ponzi: You paid at the point of a gun, even tho it was touted as “voluntary” when first imposed on the serfs. Now, they keep raising the age because people aren’t dying off like they’d hoped. AND, they steal from you by saying you make too much money, even tho you paid in.

  • cscasi

    Not certain why he was issued a check, either. I had to cancel to small roundtrip tickets on Aer Lingus last year (LHR to DUB). They were nonrefundable tickets (I did not have travel insurance), but, as was mentioned, taxes and fees are refundable. I filled out the necessary paperwork and gave them the documentation requested. Two weeks later the credit appeared on the credit card I had used (in US dollars) and there was no issue. I can’t remember if I was offered the refund to my card used or to be sent a check. Obviously the refund to the card is a better choice.
    Also, when I filed a claim under EU 261 with Lufthansa for a 4 hour 50 minute delay, Lufthansa cut checks for my wife and myself and mailed them to us withing ten days of our filling out the request for payment because of the delay. The checks were written on its bank here in the USA and was made out in U.S. dollars; so no issue to deposit to our Chase bank account.

  • C Schwartz

    Wow you still have a check from 1986? Now days one can get a credit on a credit card or cash at some airports.

  • Asiansm Dan

    Not in 1986, and not everywhere. And there is a queue at the Airport. I keep the check to remind me never fall in this tourist trap again.

  • Asiansm Dan

    I keep the check to remind me never fall in this tourist trap again.

  • C Schwartz

    Sometimes I do the tax refund but only if I would have bought the item even without the refund, The lines at the airport can be incredible. It is easier now. But in the mid 1980s some banks would do international clearing for a fee, I think it was less than $20. I am surprised at how expensive it is for customers of some banks.

  • MarkKelling

    Terminology. They should have used a different word. The customer did deposit the check which was sent to Bank of America for processing to collect the USD equivalent and was returned because Bank of America doesn’t want to del with checks for small amounts. Probably had fees that exceeded the value of the check. .

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