Air passenger duty abolished for under 16s

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Air passenger duty is a tax you pay for flying out of the UK (except long haul flights from Northern Ireland) or the Isle of Man. From March 1st 2016, children under 16 don’t pay it.  Do you need to claim a refund?

Q. How much is air passenger duty?

A. From 1st May 2015, air passenger duty rates were changed so there are only two rates for economy travel of £13 for flights up to 2,000 miles and £71 for long haul flights (or £142 if you travel anything other than economy class).

Q. Will I need to get a refund?

A. Some airlines’ systems have been changed so that when you booked a flight that would take off on or after March 1st, it would automatically take your children’s age into account when working out how much air passenger duty to charge.

SAVVY TIP: If you have a child under the age of 12 (or who was under the age of 12 when you booked) air passenger duty would not have been charged anyway, as it was abolished for children under the age of 12 from May 1st 2015.

Not all airlines have updated their systems to take the change in air passenger duty that’s coming into effect from March 1st into account. With some airlines, whether or not you’ll have been charged air passenger duty if you have a child under 16 travelling with you will depend on whether you booked a flight on its own or a flight as part of a package, or whether you booked via a mobile app or over the phone.

SAVVY TIP: A number of airlines have not added air passenger duty onto the cost of under 16’s flights if you booked after October or November 2015.

Can I get a refund of air passenger duty if my child is under 16?

A. Yes, airlines must give you a refund if you have a child under 16 who’s due to fly on or after March 1st 2016.

SAVVY TIP: Your child must be under 16 on the date they are due to fly, not the date you made the booking.

If you’ve booked a flight for a child under the age of 16 and the flight is due to depart on or after March 1st, you can ask the airline for a refund. Some of the airlines will let you ask for a refund online, others ask you to contact them by telephone.

Q. What happens if I miss my flight or decide not to travel — can I get a refund then?

A. Yes. You can get a refund, although some airlines charge an administration fee for doing this. If you booked through a third party (such as a travel agent) you should ask them to arrange the refund. Some airlines can be a bit slow at giving refunds of air passenger duty, but don’t give up!

Useful links:
An organisation called the Air Travel Advisory Bureau (it’s not a government organisation or a charity) has a downloadable template on how to claim your air passenger duty if you didn’t fly.

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