With all the ‘Black Friday’/’Cyber Monday’ madness that’s currently descended on the travel world, you might well have missed a less pleasant announcement on Wednesday. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, made clear in the Autumn Budget that Air Passenger Duty (APD) – the tax each of us pays on flights departing from the UK (regardless of whether you use miles or cash to book) – is set to rise next year, and to rise again by even more the year after.
The amount of APD you pay for a particular flight depends on the Class of travel and the length of the flight. As far as HMRC is concerned, long haul flights are anything where the distance is 2,000 miles or further.
First the good news: APD for short haul flights in either Economy or Business Class is slated to stay at the current rates until at least 2019, and will therefore remain as follows:
- Shorthaul Economy: 13GBP
- Shorthaul Business: 26GBP
Similarly, the APD rate for long haul Economy flying is only rising by £3 next April, from £75 to £78 and will stay at £78 in 2019 too.
Premium flying takes a hit
The bad news is that if you like to use your points and miles (or cash) to fly long haul in Premium Economy, Business Class, or First Class, you will be paying considerably more APD soon. The existing rate is £150 and from 1st April next year, that will be rising by a relatively modest £6 to £156.
The year after though, will see another increase – and a considerably steeper one – with APD rising by an additional £16, to £172.
In other words, between now and 1st April 2019, APD for long haul travel in any Class higher than Economy will be increasing by a total of £22, or by about 14.66%.
If you’re someone who is willing and able to spend thousands on First Class flights, it’s difficult to have too much sympathy when it comes to paying a few quid more in tax. For points and miles collectors who carefully save up in order to travel more comfortably though, these increases are noticeable.
In particular, I’ve always thought that including Premium Economy as a ‘premium’ cabin and therefore charging the same as for Business and First Class seems rather unfair. Adding £172 to a one-way Premium Economy redemption (on top of other taxes/airport fees and the dreaded ‘surcharges’ that carriers like BA impose, not to mention the cost/value of the Avios or other miles), isn’t a small amount – and the trajectory looks to be heading skyward!