Taxes & Fees on Flights to UK

Q. I understand that London’s Heathrow Airport has a horrendous arrival fee. Is the same true for Stansted and Gatwick, London’s two other airports?

A. I’m not sure if you’re referring to the airport landing fee, which is assessed based on the size of the aircraft and does vary from airport to airport but is paid directly by the airline, or the United Kingdom’s air passenger duty, which is essentially a tax levied on airline tickets and which only varies depending on the class of service (economy or premium) and the length of the flight, not the airport. This tax is paid directly by the passenger, and has been steadily increasing. When first introduced in 1994, it was an insignificant 10 British pounds. Currently, on a flight from the eastern U.S. to the U.K. and return, it’s 67 pounds (about $103 at current exchange rates) in economy and 134 pounds ($205) in business or first class. On a flight, say, from Los Angeles to London and back it’s 83 pounds ($127) and 166 pounds ($254), respectively. And these rates are set to increase as of April 1, 2014. That’s in addition to taxes imposed by the U.S. government and the TSA. So if you’re wondering why flights to the U.K. are so expensive compared to past years, that’s one reason. By the way, Northern Ireland airports, such as Belfast, are the only ones in the U.K. exempt from the tax at present.

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