Business

'Inconsistency' in air passenger duty refunds

Aeroplane

Parents due partial refunds on their children's air tickets face a variety of ways to claim the money.

Air passenger duty (APD) for children under the age of 12 on economy travel will be abolished from 1 May.

That means some passengers who have already booked and paid for flights that take off after 1 May are due a refund of the duty.

Some airlines are giving refunds automatically, but others require passengers to fill in a claim form.

Differences

"[Some airlines] are operating a refund by request system and this could be one extra job that many parents never get around to doing, leaving much of the money stuck in APD limbo," said Hannah Maundrell, of comparison website Money.co.uk, which has a guide to the changes.

"Airlines are already awash with consumers trying to reclaim money for delays, these new applications for APD refunds could simply add to the administrative nightmare.

"The important point here is that anyone that's booked a flight for a child aged two to 11 for after 1 May must check whether they paid APD. If they did, they need to make sure they get the money back from either the airline or the travel agent."

The British Air Transport Association (BATA) said the different systems of refund were the result of airlines requiring different levels of information at the ticket booking stage.

Some ask for the age of the passenger when a ticket is booked, so these airlines have been able to make automatic refunds. Others may not ask for the age until passengers confirm details closer to the flight departure, in which case parents might need to actively make a refund claim for children aged under 12.

Some airlines have automatic refunds, some may require a refund claim to be made online, while others ask passengers to follow email or booking account instructions.

Cost

The APD cut was announced in December's Autumn Statement, and followed an announcement in the previous Budget to scrap two APD tax bands.

Air passenger duty is charged on all passenger flights from UK airports. The rate of tax varies according to where the passenger is going, and the class of travel. The amount paid in duty can range from £13 to £71.

From May 2016, APD for children under 16 will also be abolished.

The changes will cost the Treasury £40m in 2015-16. The cost will jump to £80m the following year, and rise to £95m in 2019-20.

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