Lots of folks are familiar with the exorbitant fuel surcharges that are charged when booking award travel on British Airways. But it’s costly to fly out of the UK even when not traveling on BA because taxes are high as well.
The UK has a departure tax (‘Airline Passenger Duty’) that’s high in coach and higher still in premium cabins, and is often referred to as a ‘premium cabin departure tax’ or ‘luxury tax’.
This tax applies to journeys which originate in the UK, but not to trips that connect through the UK. (Here are some ways to avoid the tax.)
One improvement, implemented a little over a year and a half ago, is that children under 12 flying economy no longer pay this tax. On a London – New York ticket that’s a savings of $96 per child, which really adds up for a family traveling with several kids.
However American Airlines is still collecting the tax on award tickets.
If you buy a paid ticket for travel New York – London, American’s website will correctly price the child less expensively than the adult.
The adult taxes are higher because they include the Air Passenger Duty.
Taxes for the child do not have this line at all.
When you book award tickets at AA.com, however, and use the same passenger criteria — one adult and one child aged 2-11 — the website will charge the same taxes for both passengers. American is collecting the departure tax for the child under 12 even though the tax isn’t supposed to apply and even though they wouldn’t collect this tax on a paid ticket.
I reached out to American and learned that they are working to solve the over-collection issue. In the meantime they are making sure people get their money back
- They’ve asked agents to handle this at the check-in counter, to the extent they notice on the spot that a passenger under 12 is traveling on an award ticket, agents now know to watch for this departure tax having been charged and to refund it.
- Refunding when people ask.
- Going back through historical collection to proactively issue refunds.
Most passengers don’t realize they’re being overcharged. American tells me those passengers will get their money back anyway.