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Air Passenger Duty abolished for under sixteens

Posted 24 February 2016

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Air Passenger Duty has been abolished for under sixteens from 1st March 2016. Read our blog to find out whether you could be eligible for a refund and how to go about claiming.

Have you booked your summer holiday for you and the family yet? If you’ve booked to travel with children between the ages of twelve and fifteen, and you’re due to take off after the 1st March 2016, then you could be due a bit of money back from your airline or tour operator. This is because Air Passenger Duty (APD) on children’s airline tickets has been abolished, according to an announcement by the Chancellor in his autumn statement, 2014. The rule was changed in stages, so airlines have already given out one batch of refunds, and are having to do the same again for anyone who has booked a flight for after the date given above.

What is Air Passenger Duty?

Put simply, Air Passenger Duty is a tax that you have to pay if you take a flight from a UK or Isle of Man airport, and applies whether you’re traveling nationally or internationally. You don’t pay it if you’re traveling to the UK, it’s just the tax you pay to fly out of the country.

In 2015 the Government created two different bands that you can fall into, and within those two bands there are three groups: reduced, standard and higher (these refer to the class of travel). How much you pay in APD depends on which band you fall into, and which band you fall into depends on the distance between London and the capital city of the country that you’re flying to.

For example, if you were flying economy, you would be charged £13 per person on a short haul flight and £71 per person on a long haul flight. You don’t have to pay this separately as it’s calculated as part of your ticket price, although the Chancellor has also stated that airlines will now be required to itemise the price of everything that you pay for when you book. This should mean that it’s easier to see what you’ve paid in taxes separately from the price of the tickets alone. If you want further information about the changes to APD and how this tax works, Sainsbury’s has a great guide.


How do I make a claim?

This new batch of refunds only applies to economy flights that were booked from the 1st March 2016 for children between the ages of twelve and fifteen. And the child still has to be fifteen on the date of the return flight, so make sure that you fit the criteria before you attempt to get a refund.

The claims process is not standardised, so how you go about making a claim depends on the type of holiday that you booked and your airline. Helpfully, some airlines have made the decision to issue automatic refunds, saving customers the trouble of having to fill out forms. These airlines include, EasyJet, First Choice, Monarch, Thomas Cook, Thomson, American Airlines and Delta Airlines. If you’re unsure whether you paid the tax or how much you paid, or you booked with one of these airlines and you haven’t heard anything, then the customer service branch of your airline should be able to tell you the details of your booking and whether you’ll receive a refund.

Other than that, it will simply be a case of either contacting the customer service branch of your airline or filling out an online form. Money has a great guide to the most popular airlines and how they are choosing to handle the refund process.

If you booked through a travel agent, they are responsible for giving you any refund you may be entitled to, not the airline you flew with.

Claim back anything that you’re owed

The process of claiming back money that you’re owed can seem arduous and, because of this, some people may feel that they don’t have the time or energy to be bothered with it. But it would be unfair for other families to benefit from the refund because they happened to book with an airline that refund automatically, whilst those that didn’t, miss out because the process seems more complicated.

According to This is Money, thousands of parents risk missing out on getting the money back that they are owed, with one in three saying that they don’t want to go through the claims process. On average, parents have said that they would only apply for a refund if they were going to get £28 or more back from the airline. Because of this, airlines could end up with a pot of unclaimed APD money and families would be not benefitting from the changes as the government intended.

Whether you believe that the all airlines should be offering automatic refunds or not, we’d always urge you to chase up any money that you’re owed from anyone, whether it’s a tax rebate or mis-sold PPI. It may simply be a case of filling out an online form or having a conversation with someone in customers’ services. This really comes under money-safeguarding and is all part of good money management – if you get the money back then it can go into the pot for the next family holiday.

At Debt Advisory Centre we specialise in helping people get out of problem debt. If you’re having trouble paying your essential bills for you and your family there could be a debt solution out there that could help. All you need to do is use the options at the side of the page to speak to a debt expert who will assess your situation and recommend the best course of action.

by Christine Walsh

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