Fees and charges exploded: where your airfare actually goes

By danwarne, March 17 2011
Fees and charges exploded: where your airfare actually goes

Ever wondered where those hundreds of dollars of additional fees charged in an international airfare actually go? 

We asked Virgin Atlantic, which provided us with some insight into the many fees and charges that passengers all have to pay but of which the airline doesn't see a cent.

Pricing Manager Amanda Cassidy showed us the taxes and fees applicable on many different routes, but today, we've analysed the route affectionately known as the "Kangaroo Route" - Sydney to London, return.

Out of your $2177.94 fare (the lowest available fare picked randomly a few months from today from Virgin Atlantic's website), the airline actually only puts $1600 in the bank to cover its costs.

Of course, rocketing fuel costs from oil cartels adds another $290 to the base fare price, which is by far the biggest additional fee, followed by the UK government's much criticised and seemingly arbitrarily set "Air Passenger Duty" of $139.90.

That's followed by a handful of fees at around $50 a pop for the Australian government, covering customs, quarantine and immigration, Sydney Airport's fee, and the UK airports' fee.

One interesting thing to note out of all the various fees and charges is that Sydney Airport makes slightly more money out of your ticket than the Australian Government does. (Hope you enjoy the world-class facilities as you pass through that airport!)



On some tickets you'll see a string of numbers and codes representing all the fees and taxes that contribute to the overall price. Here's how to decode them:

290.00YQ - Fuel surcharge

139.90GB - Air Passenger Duty levied on all tickets and PTAS for passengers departing from UK airports (excluding Channel Islands) This tax is currently GBP85 converted to AUD using the current bank rate. AUD139.90

47.00AU - Passenger Movement Charge.  Levied on all passengers departing Australia on an International Flight.

50.54WY - Passenger Service Charge International.  Levied on all passengers for each international arrival and departure. Sydney $25.27 departure & $25.27 arrival

50.50UB - United Kingdom Passenger Service Charge. Levied on passengers departing and/or arriving on international flights to from the United Kingdom.

If you found all that interesting, just wait until we tackle the routes that go into the USA, where you can discover exactly how much it costs to have a deadly serious, non-smiling customs inspector stamp your passport and tell you to look into the camera, align your fingers on the fingerprint reader, and so on.

Taxes/fees information correct as at 11 March 2011.

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