A proposed hike in the air passenger tax for flights leaving the U.K. is creating a major stir in Britain, but would affect North American travelers as well. The air passenger duty (APD) would be doubled starting on February 1, 2007, which according to the newspaper The Independent, means £10 instead of £5 for economy passengers taking European short-haul flights and £40 instead of £20 for long-haul flights. The increase is meant as a first step in addressing the environmental cost of air travel, but whether or not it's an effective step is being hotly debated in the British press.
This affects North American travelers in two ways. It will raise the cost of the U.K.-to-U.S. leg of round-trip journeys. And, since London is a popular departure point for low-cost carriers to destinations around Europe, it will make those super-cheap flights less cheap.