What Is Air Passenger Duty

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In a nutshell, Air passenger duty is a tax on passengers on flights from UK airports – it doesn’t apply if you’re flying back into the UK. It was first introduced in 1994 and was mainly designed to raise money, rather than for environmental reasons.

You are exempt from Air Passenger Duty if you are departing from an airport in Northern Ireland or the Scottish Highlands and Islands Regions.

Air Passenger Duty is collected directly by the airline why you purchase a ticket.

You also don’t pay APD if you’re just changing flights in the UK en route to somewhere else – as long as the time between flights is less than 24 hours.

More information can be found on the government website.

How Much Is Air Passenger Duty

The Air Passenger Duty is based mainly on two parts, the class of travel and the distance you are flying.

Rate Band – The Distance

For distance, there are two rate bands:

Band A is for flights from the UK to a country whose capital city is less than 2,000 miles from London

  • all countries in the EU and EEA including Corsica, Gibraltar, Madeira, Sicily, Svalbard, The Azores, The Balearic Islands, The Canary Islands and Western Sahara
  • non-EU countries – Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia
  • independent regions – the Channel Islands, Isle of Man
  • non-EU countries – Albania, Andorra, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, Russian Federation (west of the Urals only), Greenland, Faroe Islands, San Marino, Serbia, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Kosovo

Band B is for flights from the UK to a country whose capital city is more than 2,000 miles from London

  • Everywhere else

Duty is charged on each passenger at the rate for the place where their journey ends (their final destination).

Rate Type – The Class of Travel

Reduced rate

For travel in the lowest class of travel available on the plane for seat pitches less than 1.016 metres (40 inches).

Standard rate

For travel in any other class of travel or where the seat pitch is more than 1.016 metres (40 inches).

Higher rate

For travel in planes of 20 tonnes or more equipped to carry fewer than 19 passengers.

Things to Watch Out For

There are few things to watch out for:

Picking Your Seat

Picking your seat (even if you are in the same cabin) can affect Air Passenger Duty because you are now in a `better` seat than other people, the only way this would not apply is if:

  • there is no extra cost for a better seat
  • the better seating is available on a ‘first-come first-served’ basis, whether at the booking stage or when they get on the plane

Upgrades

Paid upgrades, by its nature, are liable for increased Air Passenger Duty because you are now in a better seat. If a passenger pays to upgrade at any stage in the journey, then they’re travelling in the higher class.

The same applies to free upgrades if there’s an element of entitlement or priority not enjoyed by other standard class passengers. For example ‘perks’ enjoyed by airline employees.

A passenger remains in standard class if they get a free upgrade but has no expectation of or entitlement to one – this would include operational upgrades.

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