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Last Updated On: 3/14/2012

It was November 1993, and then Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, introduced the Air Passenger Duty excise tax in the UK.  It's proposal was based on no taxes paid on fuel for international and most domestic flights.  He felt that the people should pay for this; "I propose to levy a small duty on all air passengers from United Kingdom airports." This tax was to be L5 for domestic and L10 for international flights.  As this tax was continually raised over the years, people began to question it's original purpose.  In answer, the UK government body stated that this introduction of this tax was to "raise revenue" and cut down environmental emmissions by 2.5%."  Well, as we can all agree, this excise tax has failed in that, a hundreds over.  So much so, that in 2007, when the Air Passenger Duty tax was raised again, the Financial Times wrote an article, and quoted British Airways opinion as, ""an extremely blunt instrument that provides the Treasury with extra funds for general public expenditure without any benefit to the environment whatsoever. The increase was revenue-raising pure and simple, with aviation being treated as a cash cow."

At this point you are wondering how this new increase, effective April 1st, 2012 will affect you as an international traveler?

Who Pays

Air Passenger Duty tax is not a worry if you are an inbound international passenger who is connecting a flight to another foreign country within 24 hours of your arrival at a UK airport.  However, if your "stop over" is longer than 24 hours before your connecting flight, you will be responsible for paying the tax.  Fortunately, the fee is included in what you have already paid.  However, if you are a passenger departing from other European airports, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man, you are exempt from this fee.

Vacation Plans Already Booked

Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it.  Hopefully, airlines will send a letter of intent so you are notified.  In the meantime, if you choose to cancel, or something does happen to make it impossible to fly out, here is something to remember where you can possibly recoup charges. 

According to the Air Transport Users Council, there are taxes, fees, and charges (TFC) that were given to you when you booked your flight, and the Air Passenger Duty tax is among them.  TFC's are not part of the base fee you paid for your flight and because of that, "many airlines will refund TFCs if you do not use your ticket – even if your ticket is otherwise non-refundable." You will have to ask though, as they will not voluntarily tell you. 

One thing to remember is that when asking for a refund, they may charge you an administration fee, which in many cases is more than what the refund would be.  There is also no law to which they are required to issue this refund either.

Legalities of the APD

In 2007, the Financial Secretary, John Healey, stood in Westminster Hall and explained that "because airline taxes are constantly changing and can be imposed after the date that your reservation has been made. . .you will be obliged to pay it (or any increase) prior to departure.”

If you have already booked your trip before April 1st in which you have a connecting international flight from a UK airport, find out if you will be required to pay for the increase. 

I think it is wrong.  We are in an economy that still has people pinching pennies, however, according to a 2012 survey, 71% put more value on the bang for their buck rather than how much they can save.  If you are planning on booking a vacation for travel in the late Spring or summer, air-savings.com will get you the most on savings and provide a vacation package that will be the most valuable in terms of quality memories.

You can visit, http://www.travel-rants.com/2011/11/30/air-passenger-duty/ for the increase rate.


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