U.K. Flights Are Getting More Expensive

The onerous "air passenger duty" for travelers flying out of the U.K. is scheduled to increase again on April 1. Each traveler returning to the U.S. or Canada from any U.K. airport will then pay £130 (a bit over $200) in economy class; double that in any higher class, including premium economy.

The amount of duty paid per flight is based on mileage. For flights of up to 2,000 miles, the duty will come to £26 on April 1. For flights of 2,001 to 4,000 miles (a flight from the U.K. to the U.S. would fall in this bracket), the duty is jumping to £130. The next band at 4,001 to 6,000 miles covers Africa, most of Asia, and northern South America, with a duty going to £162. The final band, 6,001 or more miles, applies to flights going to Australasia and southern South America, for which the duty will be £184. Duties in classes above economy are double.

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The British government is up front about at least one main purpose of that tax: to decrease carbon emissions. And, clearly, that means to discourage air travel in general. Local airlines are pressuring the government to change its stand, but they see no progress yet.

The U.K. duty has reached a level at which it could be a tipping point in your travel plans. Instead of spending your entire vacation time in the U.K., you might think about taking a Chunnel train to France (starting at $57), staying there a few days, and returning from Paris—provided you can get a good Paris airfare. You can also work the same system through Dublin (starting at about $60 for London-Dublin train/ferry tickets).

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