Can you get your APD back if you don’t fly? Not if you Thomas Cook it...
Lots of changes happened on 1 April, and for many people, these are no joke. However, one of the lesser-publicised changes was the rise in APD, which increased to £67 per person for flights of 2000-4000 miles, to £83 for 4000-6000 miles and £94 for longer haul flights. Short-haul flight costs remained at £13 per person.
However, crucially, APD only becomes payable when the passenger’s bottom leaves the UK on an aeroplane, meaning that if you cancel, or cannot fly for any reason, you should be able to claim (at least) the APD portion of your flight cost back. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
A new report by our good friends at Which! shows that getting your APD back can be easier said than done as many airlines charge ‘admin fees’ greater than the value of the APD to process your claim. And the fee itself varies from airline to airline.
Ryanair naturally never fails to miss a money-making opportunity and charges £4 more per person than the APD levy to make a claim. Although Jet2 tops the table at £40, this is a per booking fee,not per person; Virgin Atlantic charges £30 per person, double BA’s £15 each charge.
But not all bucket airlines are baddies, and not all posher types are genial- Easyjet charges no admin fee for an APD repayment and neither do Thomas Cook- but that’s because Thomas Cook don’t actually refund APD. At all. It seems they find it irrelevant that they have taken your money to pay a tax that was not actually paid, telling Which! that they “believe that some other airlines refund APD, however Thomas Cook does not; there is no legal obligation to do so.” They went on to say that even if they did have to refund it, they are sure the admin fee would cancel it out anyway.
Helpfully, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) also said that while it is reasonable for consumers to try to get their tax back from the airline, if the admin fee cancels out the tax refund, or the airline refuses to return the tax, that’s just tough. The FOS suggest you ask your travel insurer to cough up instead. It’s not often that we stick up for insurance companies, but asking them to cough up just so the airline can keep money it isn’t actually entitled to seems a bit off.
Of course, the simplest way to avoid paying APD is not to get on a flight leaving the UK, or just fly from Northern Ireland instead- competition from cheaper flights in the Republic of Ireland means there is no APD unless the flight connects within the short-haul Band A area.