U.K. Ups Air Passenger Tax

What will the U.K. government do about the increasing consumer opposition to its air passenger duty gouge? Increase the fee, of course.

Starting next April, the onerous burden on travelers flying from London or other U.K. airports to the U.S. or Canada will increase by about 10 percent. New rates will be £65 (about $102) in economy and £130 in premium economy, business, or first class. The new duty on domestic flights and flights to other European destinations will be a more modest £13 in economy, or £26 in other classes.

The duty applies to all travelers leaving from any airport in the U.K. (with a few minor exceptions), but it does not apply to incoming travelers or connecting passengers staying in the U.K. less than 24 hours.

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Travelers who have already paid for post-April tickets—and already paid the current duty—will still have to pay the difference. The duty applies even on "free" frequent flyer award tickets.

The British travel industry claims that this duty will depress tourism, and it very well might do so. A few other European governments have rescinded similar (but smaller) duties because of their impact on tourism. But the British government doesn't seem to care. So your choice next year will be either to pay the gouge or go somewhere else. Think of Ireland, Belgium, or France, with a brief rail or boat excursion to the U.K.

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