Advanced Passenger Duty fees explained — how much it costs and when you need to pay

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

Have you ever noticed that flights departing the United Kingdom are more expensive than those departing neighboring countries in mainland Europe? The U.K. notoriously charges some of the highest taxes and fees for departing flights thanks to its high Air Passenger Duty fees. APD fees are one of the big reasons why flights departing the U.K. are more expensive than those flying from countries within mainland Europe — especially in a premium cabin. And, as the U.K. government announced at the beginning of March 2024, APD fees are about to get even more expensive. Here’s everything you need to know about APD fees and how you can go about minimizing them and avoiding them altogether.

What is APD?

APD is a tax the U.K. government charges on airfare for flights departing the U.K. Airlines typically include the tax in the ticket price when you book your flight before passing that money onto the government. The U.K. isn’t the only country in the world to charge a departure tax like this. However, it does hold the dubious honor of instating one of the highest departure taxes in Europe on both short-haul and long-haul flights.

How much is APD?

APD rates can be broken into three bands:

Destination bands
Reduced rate
Standard rate
Higher rate

Band A: Trips 2,000 miles or less (as measured from London to the destination’s capital city)
Band B: Flights more than 2,000 miles to 5,500 miles
Band C: Flights more than 5,500 miles
Most short-haul flights from the U.K. are to European destinations but also include Morocco and Tunisia in Africa. Charges are then also taken into account for the class that you’re traveling as follows:

Reduced rate: The lowest class of travel available with seat pitches less than 40 inches. This is usually classed as an Economy fare.
Standard rate: For travel in any other class or where the seat pitch is more than 50 inches. This usually includes Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class fares.
Higher rate: For travel in planes of 20 tonnes or more, carrying fewer than 19 passengers. Generally, this is private jet travel.
The current APD rates are charged as follows:

Destination bands
Reduced rate
Standard rate
Higher rate

6.50/7 British pounds*
13/14 pounds*
78 pounds
Band A
13 pounds
26 pounds
78 pounds
Band B
87/88 pounds*
191/194 pounds*
574/581 pounds*
Band C
91/92 pounds*
200/202 pounds*
601/607 pounds*
*Rates from April 1, 2024

Children and APD

Children under age 2 (if traveling as lap infants) are not charged APD. Additionally, children aged 16 and under can avoid paying APD if they are traveling in a standard seat — usually an economy seat. However, if a child is flying in a premium class such as first, business, or premium economy, they will be required to pay APD on their ticket. These fees can quickly add up if, for example, your family is looking to redeem multiple premium economy or business-class award fares from the U.K. If you are planning to make such a redemption, it’s worth factoring in the APD fee well in advance so that you can keep track of any additional costs attached to taxes and fees.

Avoiding APD

It’s important to note that APD fees are only charged on flights that depart the U.K. and not flights that arrive in the U.K. With this in mind, you can avoid APD fees altogether if you’re willing to be creative with any connecting flights. For example, you could fly into London without paying the APD fees. For the return leg of your journey, take the Eurostar to Paris or Amsterdam and depart from either destination using an open-jaw ticket or by taking two one-way flights.

Or, if you’d prefer to only utilize air travel, you could book an economy fare on a flight out of the U.K.; this way, you would be charged reduced APD fees. To save the most money in this instance, we’d recommend using a low-cost carrier such as EasyJet or Ryanair for your connecting flight in mainland Europe. If your departing flight is a long-haul journey, you can also avoid the APD fee by leaving on your main flight from Northern Ireland. However, note that these flights are still subject to the short-haul APD fee.

You should also know that if you’re merely taking a connecting flight through the U.K. with a layover that is less than 24 hours, you will not be charged APD.

Bottom line

Flying from almost any destination from the U.K. will trigger the APD fee upon departure. By being strategic about which cabin you fly in, or by making the final leg of your journey from mainland Europe, you can minimize the APD you pay — especially if you’re flying in a premium cabin. APD fees can significantly impact the cost of your flight, especially if you’re traveling in a premium cabin or with children. By understanding how APD fees are calculated and how you can avoid them, you can save money on your next trip departing from the U.K. Consider your options carefully and plan your itinerary accordingly to minimize the impact of APD fees on your travel budget.

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