Were you flying out of the UK this week and if so, were there more children on-board? If yes, the chances were they were families taking advantage of a rare event; the government handing back money! Tuesday of this week (March 1st ) was the date when the Government abolished Air Passenger Duty (APD) for children aged between 12 and 15. It had already exempted those aged under 12 from May last year.
Chancellor George Osborne first announced the change in his Autumn Statement in December 2014, so as an exercise in foot-dragging then it takes some beating. But it will mean savings for thousands of holiday makers and it must be welcomed as a piece of good news for hard pressed families.
Does this mean that the Chancellor has had a change of heart over APD as a tax? Probably not, because as a way to squeeze money out of tax payers then this one takes some beating.
Despite the whole travel industry being – noisily – up in arms over it, Her Majesty’s Government isn’t about to kill this particular golden goose any time soon. According to the website, ‘airport watch’, the actual receipts from APD for the years 2015/16 are expected to be £3.1 billion. For 2018/19 the estimate is £3.5 billion. Not bad for a tax that was only introduced in 1994.
For the fortunate few families who booked flights in advance, they could be entitled to reclaim £13 per child for journeys of less than 2,000 miles and £71 for longer haul journeys.
But as usual with the airline industry, getting hold of that refund is not straight forward as different airlines have adopted different policies.
Three cheers to American Airlines, Delta, Monarch and Thomson whose policy is an ‘automatic refund’. Two cheers for BA, Easyjet and Emirates who ask you to confirm the child’s age but will then give the refund automatically. One cheer for Virgin and Lufthansa who ask you to contact their customer service department (there goes the £13 just spent holding). And probably a raspberry for Flybe and Ryanair who both ask you to fill out an online form.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that there are also significant differences between the airlines as to whether they will continue to apply the charge after March 1st. Some do and then rely on the passenger to then reclaim it from them whilst some have already agreed not to apply it. We’re pretty confident you can guess what Ryainair do?