UK lifts business class ‘flight tax’ to $430

Premium passengers face an even higher departure tax on flights from the UK.

By David Flynn, March 7 2024
UK lifts business class ‘flight tax’ to $430

Australians visiting London or anywhere else in the UK next year will be slugged a $430 ‘flight tax’ on premium economy, business class and first class fares when it’s time to head home.

It’s the latest increase for the controversial Air Passenger Duty which applies to all commercial flights departing from Britain – a fee which started at a modest £5-10 (depending on distance) when introduced in 1994 as an ostensible airline-wide fuel tax, and has been climbing ever since.

On top of the ADP’s annual incremental rise on 1 April 2024, which will lift the tax to £202 for long-range international flights, the UK Government says April 2025 will see “a one-off adjustment (for) non-economy passengers to account for high inflation in recent years and help to maintain the value of APD in real terms.”

As of 1 April 2025, all premium economy, business class and first class travellers departing the UK on flights of over 5,500 miles from London will see a £224 (AUD$435) tax added to their ticket.

APD levies are broadly determined by the distance of your flight, using London as the starting point – longer flights attract a much higher tax – as well as the class of service you’re flying in, with one fee for economy and another for everything above.

The further you fly from the UK, the higher the departure tax...
The further you fly from the UK, the higher the departure tax...

From 1 April 2024, domestic flights to destinations within England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will carry an APD of £7 in economy and £14 for higher travel classes.

Beyond the UK, flights within Band A to overseas destinations whose capital city is 2,000 miles or less from London (basically, all of Europe and parts of North Africa) will carry a £13 tax for economy and £26 for all higher classes, with the later increasing to £28 from April 2025.

Fights which fall within Band B - to overseas destinations whose capital city is between 2,001 and 5,500 miles from London – now carry an £88 tax for economy and £194 for all travel classes above economy, with the later jumping to £216 from April 2025.

The longest flights – to countries whose capital city is more than 5,500 miles from London, which includes Australia and most of Asia – fall within Band C, with a current tax of £92 in economy and £202 in premium economy, business class and first class.

From April 2025 those higher-class fares see the APD jump to £224.

Some canny travellers plan their trip around avoiding the APD sting by flying into the UK but flying out of a European post such as Paris.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 236

Ouch makes the direct 787 to Perth sting - and is say people will now look at other options now.

07 Jan 2016

Total posts 37

Yep.   Makes those new Turkish Airlines flights a little more attractive from a cost perspective.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 717

Absolutely, all the more if you can take advantage of their 'overnighting in Istanbul' offer.  And much cheaper than QF's LHR-PER by roughly 40%.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

The APD accounts for connections. If you take a short flight out of the UK to connect to the long haul in Europe, you're paying the longer distance price. eg, if you use Turkish Airlines and connect in Istanbul, a Band A location, and then connect to Australia, you pay the Band C APD.

You only pay the Band A amount if you spend at least 24 hours in the connection point and make it a "stop over" instead of a "connection".

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 112

Sounds like more effort that it's worth, unless you want to see Istanbul. Both Band B and Band C are increasing by £22, which means that the Band B premium tax is increasing 11.34% and Band C tax by 10.89%. The difference between the Band B and Band C tax will be all of £8 (£216/£224). Why bother? What kills me is that for all the vast amounts of money the UK government rakes in on this mega-gouge, they don't spend a penny of it on snow-clearing equipment, so on the rare occasions it snows even a couple of centimetres of the stuff, the airport is paralysed. That tax would pay for plenty of equipment and standby people to operate it.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

14 Jan 2019

Total posts 3

Take the Eurostar to Paris or Amsterdam and fly back to OZ from there

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 59

Those who oppose Heathrow getting a third runway will presumably be overjoyed at this, but given the majority of journeys from London are short haul within Europe, the biggest impact will probably be on the fares of airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet who use Stansted or Luton, not LHR.  And if 7 pound is going to make a different to whether you travel or not, you probably need to evaluate how important the trip is to you.  

Should long haul passengers travelling to both the UK and Europe rearrange their itineraries so they are flying into the UK but out of Europe, to the extent that flights are found to be carrying less passengers flying out than in, then presumably the airlines will increase the inward bound UK ticket prices to cover the shortfall on flying with less loading on the out journey.   

American Airlines - AAdvantage

02 Jun 2019

Total posts 21

Dreadful, the UK is an advanced country which SHOULD NOT be taxing like a Banana Republic.    IF it was Ecuador or Colombia things are different but its the UK.     Tony Blair's legacy stinks.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 49

How can one blame a previous Labour government on a tax imposed by a Tory government?  That's an interesting theory. 

emd
emd

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Oct 2014

Total posts 12

Does this apply to tickets already purchased?

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 112

You already have a ticket for April *2025*? (The answer is no, because the tax is built into the price of the ticket when you buy is.)

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 31

If the hassle of open-jaw tickets and getting from the UK to Europe is a bit much, another work around is to plan a stopover of more than 24 hours. The tax applies to the first stopover point not the full journey. 

If you fly direct from the UK and make a stopover of more than 24 hours in Istanbul taxes of only GBP28 apply. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 717

I'll be doing exactly that Nalanji - but well after the Olympic games.  The Turkish Airlines equivalent to 'Saver' on their business class airfares is positively jaw dropping (in a good way).  This also opens up the possibility for elderly pax (i.e. 70+) to undertake the journey in a much more comfortable and safer way.  The GBP 176 saving (increasing to GBP 196 from April '25) can then be spent in better ways - Cheers!

15 Jan 2017

Total posts 4

They should be taxing those short-haul flights more where there are better environmental options such as taking the train, rather than taxing long-haul flights where there is no viable alternative. What are we meant to do, take the paddle steamer? I suppose it might be worth looking at flying into Amsterdam and then doing a separate short-haul booking into the UK on a flight or train, but honestly, can any of us be bothered doing that?

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 46

Looks like more leisure travellers (more price sensitive than business) will be flying long haul from Dublin.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 49

Governments charge these taxes simply because they can. London can barely cope with the passenger numbers they already have , so if people want to avoid London as a tourist destination, then they really should.  I used frequent flyer points for our business class trip for this European summer and quickly noticed how much lower were the tax and charges if you avoided London... so I did. 

05 Dec 2017

Total posts 15

Thats a great point, p182. The logic for these taxes is always murky and often contradictory. Like most policy things claiming to be environmentally driven, it's really just a tax grab.

But the UK is really proving to be a hellscape of cost of late. Domestic trains are massively expensive. Airfares are getting slugged with taxes. And longer term visa costs have increased to stratospheric levels in recent years, having doubled again this February.

Which makes you wonder, is the UK really worth the cost and effort? No, it's not.

The APD is currently £200 ($385) moving up to $435 so it's $50 extra on a $5-10k ticket. 

You can argue the validity of APD in general but a 0.5% increase on tickets given RPI isn't really much of a consideration.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Nov 2014

Total posts 15

For several years we’ve done what the author of the article suggests, ie fly into London, but add continental Europe to our itinerary and fly out of, for example, Rome or Madrid. If I’m forced to spend money on an insidious tax, I’d rather spend the equivalent on my own travels than have the money flow to the coffers of a foreign country. 

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 671

Another reason to fly into any other European port. Bring on Paris and Frankfurt.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 67

Easy avoid the UK when departing and fly out of Europe 

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 568

Not sure if I remembered it correctly but does the pax incur the APD if transiting via uk airport? Ie from Stockholm to Sydney via LDR on a single itinerary?

17 Nov 2023

Total posts 13

We always fly into LHR and then out of a European port.  It's a no brainer.


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