How to claim back Air Passenger Duty (APD) on unused flights

Passengers who try to claim back Air Passenger Duty (APD) on unused flights are being hit by admin charges of up to four times the value of the tax.

British Airways tails

Passengers who book but do not take their flight are entitled to reclaim the Air Passenger Duty (APD), but Which? Holiday has found that a number of major airlines* charge an administration fee which is more than the tax itself – so passengers are worse off if they make a claim.

The worst offenders were found to be Jet2.com, charging £40 per transaction, while Flybe and BMI charge £25 per person.  British Airways charges between £15 and £30 per person, and Ryanair charges £15 per person.

Monarch and Thomson Airways each charge £25 per transaction, regardless of the number of passengers on the booking.

Easyjet was the only airline in the Which? Holiday survey that does not charge an administration fee for reclaiming APD.

Lorna Cowan, editor of Which? Holiday, says:

We want to see all airlines either charge an appropriate fee for reclaiming the Air Passenger Duty on unused flights, or, like Easyjet, charge nothing at all.

Airlines should not be the automatic beneficiary of any unclaimed APD.  We think that any administration fees that put people off claiming back the APD are unfair.

What is APD?

APD is a government excise duty, and is payable to the Treasury by UK airlines.  However, this tax is only charged once a flight has taken off, and therefore, if passengers do not use their flight, they are entitled to claim the APD back.  The cost of APD is currently £10 on short-haul economy flights rising to £20 in other classes, and £40 on long-haul economy flights, rising to £80 in other classes.

* In January and February 2009 researchers from Which? Holiday contacted the press offices of eight major UK airlines to ask about their fees for reclaiming APD.  These were:

  • British Airways
  • BMI
  • Easyjet
  • Monarch
  • Flybe
  • Jet2.com
  • Ryanair
  • Thomson Airways

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