FORT MYERS, Fla. -- These days it's impossible to board a flight without first going to the TSA security line. Agents scan you and your carry on luggage before you can go to your gate.
What you may not be aware of is when you book your flight, you pay a fee for that security. It's called the September 11th security fee. While tickets are sometimes non-refundable, you can get some of the money back.
The September 11th security fee ranges anywhere from $2.50 to $10 total per person per flight. While it may not seem like a lot of money, add it up for a family and it can mean big bucks. It turns out, a simple phone call can get you, your money back.
In southwest Florida, many fly to and fro but sometimes things happen. You can't use your plane ticket or you miss a flight but don't assume because you have a non-refundable ticket, you can't get any of that money back.
"It wasn't until our 2010 report that looked into the issue along with all the other government fees and taxes that are imposed on tickets. Which ones are refundable, which ones are not refundable," said Paul Aussendorf, U.S. Government Accountability Office.
And that includes the September 11th security fee. You pay it when you book your ticket. It's not big bucks or in the hundreds of dollars but at a maximum of $10 in fees per person, per round trip ticket, a family of five is looking at possibly $50.
"Those are all refundable if you do not use a ticket because you never used the services that those fees are generating money for," said Aussendorf.
In a statement to WINK News, TSA said:
"The September 11th Security Fee of $2.50 per flight number is collected by the air carrier at the time a ticket is purchased and transferred to TSA to help offset security costs. Changes to a passenger's travel itinerary or the failure to use a non-refundable ticket may result in a refund of this security fee. Passengers who believe they are entitled to a refund are encouraged to contact their airline directly."
Passengers at Southwest Florida International told WINK News they didn't know they could ask for the money back.
"I would have liked to have known that it existed and especially that its refundable," said Jami Brett, passenger.
"I had no idea, absolutely no idea," said Bryan Bucklew, passenger.
"I think its something that the consumer should know about, if it's a fee that should be returned. Somehow the airlines should be accountable for it," said Andy Powderlly, passenger.
Problem is, airlines aren't telling you, their customers. WINK News checked the sites of several airlines. Delta, Southwest and American Air's websites don't mention anything about the September 11th fee being refundable.
"Its an administrative cost to the airlines and its, as I say, $10 at most per ticket so they are not real keen on going through that process. People should ask for it back if they don't use the tickets," said Aussendorf.
You can ask for the refund and get it back, just contact the airline directly.
If you don't use your ticket and still pay the fees, the airlines don't get to keep the money. It still goes back to TSA to pay for security.