Flying From the UK Just Got More Expensive For Premium Passengers
While there are some great premium class deals and redemptions available via the UK, and an abundance of premium class low-cost long haul flights available from London and other cities in Great Britain, premium travel from the UK is about to get more expensive. That's because the British government is raising a tax that the airline industry already calls the highest in the world.
Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a tax currently charged on passengers flying from the United Kingdom on an aircraft that has an authorized take-off weight of more than 5.7 tons or more than 20 passenger seats. This of course includes all passenger flights.
On Wednesday, the UK Treasury announced that will increase the APD for premium class passengers by £16 ($21) to £172 ($229). This means that it will cost every passenger flying in Premium Economy, Business Class or First Class an extra $21 to leave from a UK airport, even when flights are booked using miles or points. Passengers who are connecting via London Heathrow will also have to pay the tax, as well as those visiting from abroad or on a multi-sector journey.
A quick example of how much the current APD tax makes up of a business class ticket with British Airways from London (LHR) to Los Angeles (LAX) can be seen below. At 156 GBP ($208) it's by far the biggest tax or fee on the ticket.
The increased APD tax will be applied to flights departing the UK from April 2019.
Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK carriers, called the hike "a sleight of hand move by the Treasury." The revenue from the APD is currently £3.3 billion ($4.4 billion) per year, according to the association, and will rise to £4 billion ($5.3 billion) in 2022/23. The association said that the tax is "the highest in the world, and is far more than those levied by our competitors, especially in Europe."
IAG Group — which includes British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Vueling and LEVEL — is also not pleased. CEO Willie Walsh said that “if this tax continues, the UK will struggle to compete on the global stage (...) If we are open for business, why do we persist in charging people coming to the UK up to £146 to leave – a figure that will now rise?”
A way for travelers to avoid paying APD when flying from the UK would be to take a Eurostar train to Paris through the Channel Tunnel, and flying long-haul from the French city instead.