Get a Refund (AUD 60 Less Fees) of Australian Passenger Movement Charge - 40% off Fees for OzBargain Members (Starting from $6)

2540

I'm a consumer-rights fanatic and, as a flying enthusiast, nothing gets me more fired up than a flying-related consumer rights issue.

I've recently been swotting up on the AUD $60 'passenger movement charge' that the Australian government charges travelers departing Australia. I wanted to explain what I've learned. Fair warning, this post is about as long as boarding on a full A380.

I've set up a service to help folks who are entitled to a refund to make their claim. I'm offering Ozbargain members 40% off our fee to lodge and process the refund application - just pop a note in the webform or send us an email, and we'll apply the reduced fee when we pay out your claim.

You can make your own claim, but we try to:

  • simplify the process - we know how to set out your claim, and how to respond when the the first answer is 'no';
  • cut the cost of receiving your refund - our fees are lower than the administration fees charged by airlines, and we can usually pay claims out in your currency - saving you hefty bank transfer fees.

Passenger Movement Charge is refundable in a whole bunch of situations. Here are a few:

  • If the departure did not take place - this is usually the simplest claim to get approved.
  • If a child under 12 years old was mistakenly booked on an adult ticket and Passenger Movement Charge was paid. (In fact, Airasia accidentally did this for years until a smart cookie in Darwin caught on.)
  • If you are a transit passenger. These claims can get quite complicated, so airlines may be reluctant to issue a refund.

You can apply to some airlines directly - but policies vary and fees often apply

  • In general, you can apply directly to your airline for a refund of passenger movement charge. However, many airlines charge (or reserve the right to charge) hefty administration fees. For example, Jetstar's fee is $50 (an eye-watering 83% of your refund).
  • Some airlines are willing to process straightforward refund claims for free. Air New Zealand have advised that they do not charge an administration fee. If your airline is one of the few that will do it for free, then this will generally be your best option! Plus, you may also be able to get other fees back too.
  • You may have some difficulty persuading customer service representatives from some airlines that you are entitled to a refund, or the representative may not understand that Passenger Movement Charge is refundable even on a non-refundable base fare. Singapore Airlines is one such airline, having told us that it is unable to issue refunds of Passenger Movement Charge on a non-refundable fare.

Also, you can do it yourself - it just takes time, and the patience to follow up if the Government ignores your email.

  • The Australian Government says on their website that "A request for refund should be made directly from the carrier."
  • It's (kind of) a lie. Regulation 6 of the Passenger Movement Charge Collection (Recovery and Refund of Charges) Regulation 2013 says a person entitled to a refund can apply directly to the Aussie Government for a refund.
  • We sent a bunch of emails to the Department of Home Affairs arguing this point, and they eventually conceded (begrudgingly AF) that "the Department of Home Affairs can also consider applications for a refund of PMC."

If you've made it this far… well, you probably need a beer. Instead, here's an explanation of the meaning of 'transit passenger' - if you're minded to really have a fight.

  • The approach that the Australian Government - and most airlines' booking software - seems to take is that a passenger who transits on a single booking via Australia and stays airside (i.e does not clear immigration) is not required to pay Passenger Movement Charge.
  • Despite this, many airlines' booking software will levy Passenger Movement Charge where an airside transit occurs across two calendar days. (e.g. fly AKL-MEL and land at 23.30, then leave MEL for SIN at 01.30, two hours later but on a different calendar day).
  • Also, airside-only transits made up of two separate tickets (either on one airline or two) will usually attract Passenger Movement Charge in the airline booking software because the system is unable to take the separate booking for the incoming flight into account when deciding whether or not to charge Passenger Movement Charge.
  • Further, landside transits are potentially within the meaning of 'transit passenger'. This point does not appear to have been tested to date, but we are very eager to try it out.

Landside transits

  • Airlines, and (as far as we know) the Australian Government, seem to take the view that a person who transits landside is not a transit passenger.
  • However, "transit passenger" is a defined term in s 3 of the Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act 1978. A person is only a "transit passenger" when they have been "immigration cleared within the meaning of section 172 of the Migration Act 1958".
  • A person who enters Australia at a "port" (which includes an airport) is immigration cleared "if, and only if" the person leaves the port (s 172(1)(a)(iii)).
    Section of the Migration Act 1958 says a port means either a "proclaimed port" or a "proclaimed airport".
  • A "proclaimed port" means (within mainland 'oz, not the external territories) "an airport appointed under section 15 of the Customs Act 1901"
  • Under s 15(1)(b), " the Comptroller‑General of Customs may, by notice published in the Gazette… appoint airports and fix the limits of those airports."
  • The limits fixed for the airports appointed by notice in the Gazette tend to be pretty expansive, often extending beyond the airport's carparks. In all of the cases we have reviewed, the legal boundaries of the airport include the terminal buildings.
  • This means (perhaps we should say 'arguably means', even though we're pretty confident) that a person has not left the port for the purposes of s 172(1)(a)(iii) of the Migration Act 1958 if they've only passed through immigration within the terminal, but have not actually left the airport building.
  • If the person then leaves Australia without leaving the airport, they will have completed their departure from Australia without having (technically) been 'immigration cleared', and would therefore be a transit passenger.
  • Which means, of course, that they'd be entitled to a refund of their sixty bucks.

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Comments

  • +4 votes

    So how much is your fee compared to what they get back and how long does it take to get money back

  • +1 vote

    How far back can you claim?

    • +2 votes

      We think indefinitely, although we can't guarantee a particular decision from the Dept. Home Affairs.

      Note that the fee has not always been AUD 60 - so a claim from long ago may pay less.

      •  

        I was a transit passenger in 2011. I guess I can claim that far back?

        Further, landside transits are potentially within the meaning of 'transit passenger'. This point does not appear to have been tested to date, but we are very eager to try it out.

        I was a landside passenger at the time. Barely made the check in cut off.

  • -2 votes

    If I book through Emirates and have a 8 hour layover in Dubai, do they add these fees?

  • +26 votes

    Upvoted for the longest deal explanation I've ever read on OzBargain!

  •  

    Why does this ridiculous situation even exist?

  • +12 votes

    Excellent service for New Zealanders as they may often transit through Australia to Asia/Europe.

    Unlikely to be of much assistance to Australians.

    Nevertheless, thanks for the heads up about this matter. +1 for great consumer advice.

    • +8 votes

      May be useful for Australians who have cancelled a non-refundable ticket (and can therefore still get some of that money back) or who have accidentally booked a child under 12 on an adult fare.

      •  

        I am having to cancel a non-refundable ticket will I still be entitled to this?

        • +1 vote

          What's your route? If it's a ticket departing from mainland Oz to either another country or one of the external territories, you should be entitled to a refund.

          If you fill out the questionnaire on the website (shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes), we can have a look and let you know your options.

  •  

    I flew out of Australia mid last year on EK, 2 adults 2 kids both in a booked seat, and as far as I can remember the cost of each of the 4 tickets was the same.

    Does this mean that I should probably put in a claim?

    • +2 votes

      It sounds that way, yes.

      We only charge a fee if the claim is successful, so you could file a claim with us and then we can assess whether you are entitled to a refund.

      Feel free to flick me a PM if you have any trouble filling out the form.

      •  

        Thanks for the quick reply!

        I found the itinerary which thankfully goes into exact detail, on the adult tickets it lists

        Taxes / Fees / Charges (TFC)
        AUD60.00-AU AUD6.57-WG
        AUD35.66-WY AUD4.00-ZR
        AUD26.80-F6 AUD26.80-UF
        AUD3.60-DB

        and on the child tickets it lists

        Taxes / Fees / Charges (TFC)
        AUD6.57-WG
        AUD35.66-WY AUD4.00-ZR
        AUD26.80-F6 AUD26.80-UF
        AUD3.60-DB

        So I'm pretty sure Emirates has actually done the right thing.

  •  

    I'm a little confused. Would I be eligible for a refund for the following scenario?

    Flight booked for set date to go overseas. MEL>HNL
    On the day, I get told that the flight is cancelled due to engineering problems. I have to re-book a flight for the next day which Jetstar booked at no extra cost. However, it's now not a direct route, so had to go via MEL>SYD>HNL.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    • +1 vote

      More likely than not, JQ will have applied the PMC you had paid for MEL->HNL to your SYD->HNL departure.

      Check with them (their live chat is a good option), and if they didn't, then we can submit your refund request for you (and save you the $50 JQ admin fee).

  • +1 vote

    Is this tax only for flying or would cruises etc also get this fee?

  •  

    So if you miss a flight (that was returning to Australia) and had to rebook a seperate flight, and that flight had the charge, you are entitled to a refund?

    • +2 votes

      If you miss a flight departing from Australia and had to book a separate flight, then you are entitled to a refund (unless you asked the airline to apply the PMC you had already paid to the new flight).

      The charge only applies to flights leaving from Oz, not flights going to Oz.

    • +12 votes

      boy meets girl; boy and girl book a holiday; boy and girl break up; boy goes on holiday still; girl gets a refund of her unused passenger departure charge?

  •  

    Just note 'ozbargain $6 fee' in the webform?

  •  

    Cool, i probably claim back a few, but issue is to get back thosr 5plus year old booking

    • +1 vote

      Like, to find the record of the booking?

      If you can't find your booking records in your email, you could try (if you have the patience) to ask the airline(s) for your booking and travel history. Could be a bit of a mish, but might be worth spending a little time if you've got a few claims to make.

  •  

    How come I have never heard of this "Passenger Movement Charge" until now? Is it charged to the ticket price? Let say I book and pay for a Qantas flex fare, return ticket to Singapore, departing from Australia obviously, for a flight next month. Then the day after, I cancelled the ticket and get refund. Does it mean that the refund that I get will be the original total price minus the Passenger Movement Charge?

  •  

    Thank you for the post, especially the long (but needed) explanation. Upvoted.
    We booked 5 x FF tickets on EK (using QFF points) which included an 11 year old. I'll rummage through the booking details for the PMC, and if it's charged, will start the arduous journey to take on the bureaucracy.

    •  

      Jesus. Well done on managing to accumulate enough QFF points to book 5 rewards. It always blows my mind that people somehow manage to do that.

  •  

    Qantas is not listed in your webapp as an expected airline

    edit: I also didn't notice anywhere to upload itinerary/eticket info. Is it not required?

    • +1 vote

      Thanks for the feedback. I've got a few issues to iron out with the webapp now (thanks to everyone who has provided feedback). In the meantime, if any info is missing, we will get in touch by email to confirm.

  •  

    What if you didn't end up taking your flight?

    e.g. falling sick before trip and thus choosing to not go

    • +1 vote

      Ab-so-lute-ly.

      Hope you're feeling better now.

      •  

        Hmmm I may have to give this a go then - have 2 flights from a couple of years back that I didn't end up flying on

        •  

          If you had travel insurance (assuming not, but you never know), it might not be too late to make a claim. You'd probably have to pay an excess, but if you had other lost expenses it might work out.

          Otherwise, yeah, a PMC refund claim is probably a good idea.

  •  

    How do I know if I have paid this fee and if I am entitled to a refund?
    I don’t remember seeing the name of this fee on my invoices.

    •  

      It might be coded as 'AU' (coxymla posted an example above).

      Some airlines (grumble) don't break it out as a separate line item. If in doubt, and provided it is an international flight, submit a claim and we can have a look.

  •  

    Does Scoot charges these fees below?

    Fare
    Departure Fare 348.63
    Return Fare 1096.20
    Fees And Taxes 383.37
    Passenger Processing 10.08
    User Charge Airport Passenger Service Charge 38.52

    •  

      What route? If it's from Australia to another country, then yes (and although there isn't a separate line item for it, it will probably be under 'Fees And Taxes').

      •  

        Perth to Singapore Transit then to Bangkok, then Bangkok to Singapore Transit and back to Perth. Eligible? I have at least 5 of those in the past 5 years…..4 of the trips are completed though, are all eligible or only the one is delayed eligible?

  • -1 vote

    Sorry what is a passenger movement mean? Thanks for the service. We just went through something ridiculous with amex and qantas. If I told you you would certainly get fired up…lol

  • +2 votes

    Positive vote for your diligence and meticulous effort

  • +4 votes

    This guy for president. The passion and attention detail is crazy!!! #noslomo

  •  

    why aren't all airports covered? i.e. Sydney?

    • +2 votes

      I'm a lawyer by trade (but not providing this in that capacity, and it is 100% not legal advice). We're almost always bad with numbers and computers.

      I forgot column headers, so the computer seems to think 'SYD' and 'Qantas' are headers and is hiding them. I'll fix it, I promise!

  • +2 votes

    OP, I was looking back through old tickets, it seems that International Child Flights using Frequent Flyer points seem to be a common way this can be (inadvertently) charged.

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