Workarounds for the UK Air Passenger Duty


One Mile at a Time published an excellent post today about the UK Air Passenger duty that’s worth a read. In short, the UK Air Passenger Duty is a tax levied on itineraries departing from the United Kingdom, but how much that tax costs and when it is charged can be difficult to understand.

Westminster Abbey, London
Westminster Abbey, London

Ben’s post does a remarkable job of breaking it down for those unfamiliar. In a nutshell:

  • You pay an unusually high departure tax when leaving the UK on a long-haul premium cabin itinerary.
  • You pay the tax on cash fares or award tickets regardless of airline
  • The tax is lower in economy class and nonexistent if you’re only connecting in London. It is also lower if you are leaving the UK on a short-haul itinerary than on a long-haul itinerary.
  • The tax doesn’t exist when you depart from Inverness.

There are therefore a few ways to sort of “beat the system” and avoid paying this unusually high departure tax (which will soon exceed $250 for those of us departing the UK to come to the US). The basic strategies are:

  1. Don’t depart from the UK. Take a train or cheap economy class flight to a nearby country like Ireland or France. Then, even if you want to fly British Airways, originate the ticket in Dublin or Paris and only connect in London and you won’t pay the tax (though if you fly British Airways you’ll still pay exorbitant fuel surcharges in many cases).
  2. Depart the UK in economy class.
  3. Depart from Inverness.
  4. Depart the UK but make a stopover of more than 24 hours in another European country. Then you’ll only pay the short-haul tax for the flight from the UK to your short-haul destination (less than 2,000 miles from London) which is far less than the long-haul tax.

One Mile at a Time goes into much greater detail in explaining these strategies and when the tax applies or does not apply. If you enjoy travel to the UK but you don’t enjoy the extra $250 per passenger in fees for premium economy, business, or first class tickets then check out Ben’s post for more detail.

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Dick Bupkiss

So basically, end any trip around the UK in Inverness. Fly home from there, and never fly British Airways.


Since there has been a lot of discussion on Delta GUCs here lately, some things I found when trying to use them for UK flights a couple years ago:

  1. You do have to pay the extra APD if your flight leaves from the UK (except Inverness). When you call to apply the GUC, they will ask for payment.
  2. The agent told me there is a similar (though smaller) surcharge if you leave Paris. She told me she encourages people to travel through Amsterdam as much as possible to avoid these fees.
  3. Even if your flight from the UK is in economy, if later connecting flights on the same itinerary are in premium cabins, you may be charged the higher fee. For example, we were flying EDI-AMS-SEA. We wanted to apply the GUC just to the AMS-SEA leg. We still had to pay the premium cabin APD even though we were in coach from the UK, and the premium cabin was just from the Netherlands to the US. While the ticket from EDI-AMS was cheap, they were charging more for just the AMS-SEA flight versus EDI-AMS-SEA, so it was not financially beneficial to buy separate tickets.

None of these options seem even remotely close to worth saving $250 over.


Yup, agree.

The only point I think anyone should take from this is that if they’re visiting multiple places already (e.g. a London/Paris trip is fairly common), and the order doesn’t matter, then don’t do the UK last.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andy

It can add up pretty quickly if you are traveling with a family…

rick b

I’ve looked into this a few times I had to fly from UK, and back then the cost of connecting flights + wasted time just wasn’t worth the small savings. Most european airports have some type of non-trivial passenger tax, plus you’d have to pay for an overnight hotel, extra connecting flight, etc.. Not worth wasting 24hr+ of vacation time.

I just flew coach back to US. It’s only an 8hr flight and if you do early morning and maybe pay a bit more for extra legroom, there’s no need to bother with premium cabin. In this case my savings by doing extra connections would have been $50-60.

For multi-country Europe trips, just go to UK first so you only have a short connection flight from there.


The GBP 250 penalty (500 with two travelers) makes a free stopover in Europe almost a no brainer.

rick b

It’s about 110-120 GBP now, for one coach flight from LHR to IAD. From Frankfurt it’s about 70 GBP. I think it’s cheaper from AMS but you may have to fly Delta/KLM and pay crappy fuel surcharges.

I agree on premium tickets it’s higher, but my point was wasting time and money and contorting your schedule to save on an 8hr mediocre business class flight isn’t worth it. Just fly coach and the duty is not that bad.

Last edited 2 years ago by rick b

I did that coach+ BUT I got the last row and knees in my back.So 2st to last row is better Room.