The price of tickets for children under 12 will fall for flights from 1 May next year, after the Government said it would scrap Air Passenger Duty for this group.

From March 2016, APD will also be scrapped for children under 16.

The Treasury has told MoneySavingExpert.com that this applies BOTH to tickets already purchased and future bookings on economy class tickets. This will save a family of four with two kids under 12 £26 on a flight to Europe and £142 on a flight to the USA, according to the Government (see our Cheap Flights guide to cut costs).

Here are the key details:

  • If you've already booked a ticket, airlines are expected to refund the charge, says the Treasury.
  • If you've yet to book a ticket, it depends on the airline's systems whether the ticket simply won't contain the tax or whether it will and you then need to apply for a refund. Certainly, tickets booked in the next few days are likely to have the tax applied, as the news is so raw, so you may need to get it refunded.
  • We have contacted all the major airlines to ask how they will refund charges (ie, is it automatic?) and whether their booking systems have been updated to scrap APD for the under-12s. We have only had limited replies so far from Easyjet, BA, BMI Regional, Monarch, Thomson and Virgin which all say they will comply with the rules but don't have full details yet.
  • Age is counted on the date of travel, so someone 11 now, but 12 at point of travelling would NOT get the exemption next year.
  • APD is charged on all outbound flights from the UK and is based on the distance flown. It's not charged on incoming flights to the UK.

Here are the current APD rates, which took effect on 1 April this year:

APD rates April 2014 - April 2015
Destination bands and distance from London (miles) APD rate for travel in the lowest class of travel available on the plane APD rate for travel in any other class of travel
Band A (0-2,000, eg, London to Malaga) £13 £26
Band B (2,001-4,000, eg, London to New York) £69 £138
Band C (4,001-6,000, eg, London to Bangkok) £85 £170
Band D (over 6,000, eg, London to Sydney) £97 £194
From 1 January 2013, the rates for direct long-haul flights from Northern Ireland were devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive, and set to £0. Direct long haul journeys from Northern Ireland are those where the first part of the journey is to a destination outside Band A.

The rates are set to rise from 1 April 2015 as follows:

APD rates April 2015 - April 2016
Destination bands and distance from London (miles) APD rate for travel in the lowest class of travel available on the plane APD rate for travel in any other class of travel
Band A (0-2,000) £13 £26
Band B ( over 2,001) £71 £142
From 1 January 2013 the rates for direct long-haul flights from Northern Ireland were devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive, and set to £0. Direct long haul journeys from Northern Ireland are those where the first part of the journey is to a destination outside Band A.
Martin Lewis
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Air passenger duty