Do you need to reclaim APD on children's flights?
As announced in last year’s Autumn Statement, from this Friday, 1 May, Air Passenger Duty (APD) will be scrapped for children under 12. Interestingly, the removal of the charge applied to both new and existing economy-class bookings, meaning if you had already booked ahead, you may have already paid APD that actually isn’t due. Unfortunately, however, not every airline is automatically processing these refunds and you may have to do something to claim back the APD, which could be up to £97 per flight.
How much you could reclaim depends on when you booked at how far you are travelling. If you booked before 19 March 2014 , besides being a very organised person, you’ll probably get £13 for flights under 2,000 miles, £69 for flights between 2,001 and 4,000 miles, £85 for flights between 4,001 and 6,000 miles, and £97 for flights over 6,000 miles. Flights booked on or after 19 March 2014 will be due a refund of £13 for flights under 2,000 miles and £71 for longer flights
Note that APD is charged only on outgoing flights from the UK, not on inbound ones and strictly speaking, is charge paid by the airlines to HMRC, although generally the cost is included in the ‘fees and charges’ element of ticket prices. As a result, if you have paid APD for children for flights leaving on or after 1 May, they ought to refund the charge, with HMRC confirming there's no deadline to reclaim the APD. The new waiver does not apply to non-economy flights, nor on tickets for children under 2 (as they don’t have to buy a seat, therefore pay no APD). Also note that the exemption is for children under 12, at the time of the flight, so if you paid APD last year for your 11 year old who is now 12, hard cheese.
But what if your airline isn’t doing automatic refunds? MoneysavingExpert have produced a handy table which tells you which airlines are offering automatic refunds and which are not, and what you need to do. In most cases it tends to be the cheaper airlines that aren’t offering automatic refunds, but you generally just need to complete some kind of claim form in order to get your APD back. Examples of airlines that do require a some kind of action include FlyBe, Jet2, WizzAir and everyone’s favourite Ryanair. However, note that Ryanair did actually stop charging children APD over a month ago in an uncharacteristic show of generosity, and that WizzAir are claiming that some of their fares were actually lower than the APD charge, and in those cases, refunds of APD will not be given. Which seems reasonable, if far-fetched.
Finally, make sure you keep an eye on the APD paid for older children if you’re booking flights beyond 1 March 2016, when the exemption will be extended to children under 16.