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We are planning to fly to the United Kingdom this summer with our two kiddos, and since we will be going to London and Scotland I am very interested in minimizing or avoiding the Air Passenger Duty fees that get tacked onto most flights that depart the UK. This can be a pretty big fee on long haul flights – even bigger when you are flying in a premium cabin like we are. The rates are currently £71 to £73 for economy class and from £142 to £146 for all other classes – for the currency challenged that means fees of up to $213 per ticket, even on award tickets.
Thankfully this Air Passenger Duty (APD) fee is not charged on lap infants regardless of the cabin they are in, but children 16 and under only avoid the fee if they are in a “standard” class of travel. In other words, they only avoid this fee in economy – not if they are flying in business class. In fact even British Airways Premium Economy tickets are treated as a premium cabin for these purchases, so really factor that into the equation if you are trying to keep costs as low as possible when traveling with your family.
It is worth a mention that children 12-16 only became exempt from the APD in economy as of 3/1/16, so it is possible that you are due a refund on those flights. Be sure to look into any possible APD refunds before departure as I know at least with British Airways you must request that refund at least 3 days before travel.
If you want to avoid the APD then remember that it is only charged on flights leaving the UK, not coming into the UK. This means you could fly into London on one ticket but depart from Paris and avoid the fee. You also do not pay the fee if you leave from Northern Ireland on a long haul flight or the Scottish Highlands and Islands (airports like Inverness and those further north). Connecting in the UK for less than 24 hours also does not trigger the fee. I’ve read that all of Scotland is considering a reduction of the fee in the coming years to boost tourism, but this is not yet set in stone so sadly our flights out of Edinburgh are hit with the full fee this summer.
You can also reduce your APD on flights out of the UK by flying less than 2,000 miles from London. It’s well over that from London to any airport in the United States, so that won’t help you if you are heading back over the Atlantic to come home, but is good to know if you are exploring onward.
If you want to learn more about the APD fee and how to avoid or minimize it then Skyscanner has a pretty good summary here you may want to check out because these fees can add up very quickly when you are traveling with multiple people if you aren’t careful.
Do you take the APD fee into account when planning trips to the UK? How does your family minimize or avoid the fee?
Know before you go.
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