On the 3rd of December 2014, the abolition of Air Passenger Duty on flights for the under twelves was announced in the Chancellor's Autumn statement, taking effect on the 1st of May 2015.

This will save a family of four with two kids under twelve 26 on a flight to Europe and 142 on a flight to the USA, according to the Government. However, it seems that there has been little guidance in place as to how this fare reduction should be administered.

Our research1 shows that the treatment of these refunds varies drastically between airlines, with some offering automatic refunds and others asking people to actively claim the money they're owed.

Processing refunds will become a bigger issue for airlines next year when APD is set to be abolished on flights for the under 16's.

Research2 amongst 1,000 parents with children aged two to eleven that fly reveals that 41% do not know if they were charged APD on a flight they've booked for their children departing after the 1st May.

Just 29% of parents that say they were charged APD are expecting an automatic refund; a further 19% of those charged say they need to claim the money back.

One in three (34%) parents surveyed said they would not apply for an APD refund for any amount - with several airlines asking people to apply for refunds this may not work out in consumers favour.

Parents that would apply for a refund say they'd want to recoup an average of 28 in order to do so. Just 37% would apply for a refund of 13 or less, which means APD paid on some short haul flights after 1st May could remain unclaimed if it is not automatically refunded.

Airlines such as British Airways, Thomson, First Choice, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines are some of the airlines that are processing automatic refunds.

With Air Passenger Duty (APD) for the under twelves set to be abolished on economy flights taken from the 1st May 2015, new research1 from financial comparison website money.co.uk reveals that not all airlines are offering automatic refunds.

Many airlines are asking consumers to pro-actively apply to get their money back. Just to add further complexity, many parents that booked package deals will have to go back to the tour operator to make a claim.

Several airlines including British Airways, Thomson, First Choice, Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines are offering automatic refunds, which make the charging structure less of an issue for consumers. money.co.uk's guide on reclaiming APD for the under twelves provides further details as to how consumers can get their money back from individual airlines.

Reports3 estimate that APD abolition will cost the Treasury 40m in 2015-16. Some of this will be tied up in the refund process, but should end up back in consumer's pockets if everyone affected gets their cash back.

Parents that have already booked flight for under twelves

money.co.uk carried out consumer research amongst 1,000 parents with children aged two to eleven that fly. More than half (56%) of the parents surveyed are planning to fly with children aged two to eleven after 1 May and 45% of these having already booked their flights.

41% do not know if they've been charged APD on their children's flights and 11% "don't think" they were charged. Almost one in three (29%) believe they were charged APD but will get an automatic refund while almost one in five (19%) say they will have to apply for a refund.

One in three parents can't be bothered to apply for refunds

The research shows that over a third of these parents (34%) could not be bothered to apply for an APD refund for flights booked for their children for after the 1st May 2015 regardless of the amount they stand to gain. This could leave a pot of unclaimed money sat in APD limbo.

Just 37% of parents would apply for a refund for 13 or less

Parents that would apply for a refund say they would only do so if they received an average of 28 - just 37% would apply for a refund of 13 or less. Government figures indicate that the average short haul flight to Europe has to date levied a 13 fee for air tax.

This means that APD on some short haul flights could remain with the airline if it is not automatically refunded as customers are unlikely to apply for a refund.

More than half of parents feel refunds should be automatic

More than half of parents (58%) with children aged two to eleven think the airlines should automatically refund APD charged on flights from the 1st of May 2015 if they are booked before this date.

More than one in four (26%) feel airlines that are making consumers apply for a refund should proactively contact them and provide full details as to how they can apply. One in three (32%) feel they should be informed about the refund process at the time of booking.

Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of money.co.uk, comments:

"Overall, it seems that many of the airlines are doing the right thing and issuing automatic APD refunds to parents that are booking flights for the under twelves. However, others are operating a refund-by-request system and this could be one extra job that many parents never get around to doing, leaving much of the money stuck in APD limbo.

"Airlines are already awash with consumers trying to reclaim money for delays; these new applications for APD refunds could simply add to the administrative nightmare. We fully appreciate the complexity of implementing the Government's changes in less than six months.

"However, with little consistency in the way airlines are dealing with these refunds, some consumers could end up missing out on money they're owed.

"The important point here is that anyone that's booked a flight for a child aged two to eleven for after the 1st of May must check whether they paid APD. If they did, they need to make sure they get the money back from either the airline or the travel agent."

Some airlines have already gone the extra mile, with providers such as Ryan Air3 implementing the Government's APD changes for the under twelves from the 27th of March - almost six weeks early. EasyJet4 is also taking a proactive approach in contacting customers by calling or emailing to ensure they know how to reclaim their money.

If you have booked a flight for your children which takes place after the 1st of May 2015, money.co.uk has compiled a useful guide which gives you all the information you need on how to reclaim your APD from the airline you booked with.

Notes to Editors:

  1. money.co.uk market analysis was carried out across airlines which fly from the UK to investigate how they are processing claims for Air Passenger Duty on flights for the under 12's following the abolition on the 1 May 2015.

  2. Research was carried out amongst 1,000 parents with children aged 2-11 that fly by OnePoll on behalf of money.co.uk from the 17th April 2015 to the 20th April 2015.

  3. Ryan Air stopped charging consumers APD on bookings for the under 12's on the 12 February 2015 for flights taking place after 27th March 2015. Only bookings made before this date (12/2) for flights taking place after the 27/3 will require an application for a refund and will be refunded back to the original form of payment.

  4. easyJet is taking a proactive approach by calling or emailing customers to ensure they know how to reclaim their money. For refunds go to www.easyjet.com, confirm the date of birth of each child travelling via managed bookings and a refund will be processed.

  5. BBC article on the 3 December 2014 reports that the move will cost the Treasury 40m in 2015-16. The cost will jump to 80m the following year, and rise to 95m in 2019-20.

About money.co.uk:

money.co.uk was established in 2008 by Chris Morling and remains the only independently owned comparison website within the top players in the UK. The Cirencester based business employs around 37 people and is currently one of the most used financial comparison websites in the UK, attracting around 2.5 million visitors a month. It's a free, online comparison service which allows customers to compare a range of personal finance products and utility services. The website compares over 20,000 products across 56 categories using over 800 comparison tables, offering consumers the best tools and information.