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What is Air Passenger Duty and can you claim your money back?

Air Passenger Duty on flights for children up to 15 years old has been scrapped. If you have already paid for flights you may need to claim this money back: here is how.

What is Air Passenger Duty?

It is a tax charged by airlines on all economy flights that leave the UK.

You only pay Air Passenger Duty (APD) for flights leaving the United Kingdom, and not for inbound flights.

You are charged £26 per person on short haul economy flights to most of Europe, and £150 per person on long haul flights.

You pay APD as part of your ticket price, and airlines pass the tax onto the government.

Which flights are affected?

All economy flights departing the UK from 1st March 2016 that were booked for passengers aged between 12 and 15.

This change was announced in the 2014 Autumn Statement and is the second phase of reductions made on APD.

Depending on which airline you are travelling with, and when you booked, you may need to claim a refund of Air Passenger Duty you paid on flights for anyone aged between 12 and 15.

What happened in the first phase?

APD was abolished for passengers under 12 on 1st May 2015, which resulted in many airlines immediately updating their ticket prices and issuing automatic refunds to anyone that had already booked flights for anyone affected.

However, it took other airlines longer to revise their pricing and get the necessary procedures in place to issue refunds.

Can you claim back Air Passenger Duty?

Yes, but only for flights booked for passengers aged between 12 and 15 which had included the cost of APD.

If the ticket price you paid is less than the cost of APD then you may not be entitled to any money back.

If you are unsure or worried if this affects you, do not hesitate to contact your airline's customer service team.

They will confirm whether they'll be issuing automatic refunds or if you need to fill in a form to reclaim the money.

What if you booked through a travel agent?

If you booked via a travel agent, you will need to contact them to ask for a refund.

How much is Air Passenger Duty?

Flights are categorised into different Air Passenger Duty bands, based on the distance of the destination from the UK.

Air Passenger Duty bands from 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017 are:

BrandMilesCost
AUp to 2000£26
BOver 2001£150

Air Passenger Duty is not payable on some long haul flights departing from Northern Ireland, and rates will likely be changing for some flights departing from Scotland in the near future.

How do you get your APD back?

Some airlines will automatically refund the money back to your payment card, or email instructions to you explaining how you can get your APD back.

Here is how some of the most popular airlines flying from the UK are handling APD refunds:

AirlineRefund processCustomer service numberAre they still charging APD?
American AirlinesProactive refund by airline0800 433 7300Yes
British AirwaysComplete online form if you booked before 30th September 2015, proactive refund by airline after this date0344 493 0787No
Cathay PacificContact customer services0208 834 8866Yes
Delta AirlinesProactive refund by airline0871 221 1222Yes
easyjetProactive refund by airline0330 365 5000No
First ChoiceProactive refund by airline0203 451 2688No
Jet2.comLog into 'Manage My Booking' to request a refund if you booked before December 2014, proactive refund by airline after this date0333 300 0042No
KLM Royal Dutch AirlinesComplete online form020 7660 0293Yes
Norwegian AirSend refund request via contact us page online0330 828 0854Yes
RyanairComplete online complaint form for refund0330 100 7838No
Scandinavian AirlinesContact customer services0207 660 8001Yes
South African AirwaysContact customer services0208 576 5555Yes
Swiss InternationalContact customer services0345 601 0956Yes
TUIProactive refund by airline0203 451 2688No
Virgin AtlanticContact customer services*0344 209 7777Yes


* Signposted at booking stage.

What else do you need to think about?

You can still claim a refund for APD if you booked:

  • From a third party: Travel agents will be responsible for the refund rather than the airline. Be aware that acceptance of any refund from a third party agent will be dictated by their own specific terms and conditions of sale.

  • When your child was 15 years old, but turns 16 before or during the return flight: If the child flying is still 15 years old up until the final flight, then you are still eligible to apply for a refund.

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