7 mins

5 ways to reduce Air Passenger Duty

Don't let the rise in Air Passenger Duty put a damper on your holiday spirit. Here are some sneaky tips on how to lower your tax...

Reduce how your APD charges (Alan Cleaver)

1. Know your band widths

BAND A (2,000 miles) = £13
BAND B (4,000 miles) £65
BAND C (6,000 miles) = £81
BAND D (further) = £92

Save yourself a few quid by understanding how Air Passenger Duty (APD) band widths work. The amount of tax you pay is determined by how far you fly, and in most cases this distance is measured from the capital of the country. This creates a convenient loophole for certain destinations. For example, a flight to Hawaii will charge you less APD than one to the Caribbean, because although the Caribbean is geographically closer to the UK, the tax you have to pay to fly to Hawaii is calibrated from Washington DC, not Honolulu.

Make some money-saving choices by knowing what you want, and doing your research properly. If you are looking for a last-minute trip, head to Marrakech (£13) over the Maldives (£81). If you've been dying to go on that African safari, try something different in Uganda (£65), instead of South Africa (£81). And if you're in for the long-haul try Sri Lanka (£81), rather than the Philippines (£92).

2. Break up your trip

If you're flying long-haul it is likely that your flight will be broken up into two separate legs. For example, if you book a flight to Australia you may have to change planes in Singapore, Hong Kong  or Thailand. The majority of airlines will offer passengers a “through” ticket, encompassing both legs of the journey, and most travellers happily accept this offer, as it generally makes things easier. But what they may not realise is that by doing this they are paying APD for the entire length of their journey.

By booking two separate tickets, instead one “through” ticket, you will only have to pay APD for the first leg of your journey, and depending on how far you are flying, it could well be worth the extra hassle.

3. Take a long stop over

If you decide to go ahead with a “through” ticket, and your plane makes a stop over in another country, it might be tempting to stick around for a few hours and explore outside the airport. We say, why not stick around for 24 hours? By including a stopover for a minimum of 24 hours en route, you will only be charged for the tax to that interim destination. For example, if you stop in New York on the way to Australia, you could pay £65 instead of £92.

4. Avoid Premium

Passengers flying in Business or First Class do not receive any special treatment when it comes to APD. In other words, they are not exempt from the tax. In fact those flying in luxury face an even higher levy, almost double that of Economy Class. So if you can sacrifice a couple inches of leg room for a few hours, then avoid booking premium. Not only will you pay less APD, but you'll also save the cost of an upgrade. If you happen to get lucky at check-in, and are offered a free bump, then you should be in the clear.

5. Just don't fly

There are no departure taxes on travel by ferry or rail in the UK, so if you're planning a short-haul trip, why not opt out of flying altogether? Rail travel offers plenty of options, especially around Europe, and the increasing ease and speed, as well as low costs make it a great (and green) alternative to flying.

If your train journey is slightly longer than the hour or two it takes to get to Paris or Belgium, then the ride can become an exciting adventure in itself (and you can enjoy it all the more knowing you got out of paying that pesky tax!).

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