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Airline Taxes Explained

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Airline Taxes and Fees Explained

At Alternative Airlines, we don’t want any confusion when it comes to airline taxes and fees. Unfortunately, airline taxes are incredibly complex to understand! But we’ve put together a guide to help you understand what taxes you can expect to be charged when flying, and why these taxes are charged in the first place.


What are Airline Taxes?

Air ticket taxes are charged on the amount paid for commercial air transportation.

Some taxes are charged by governments (often described as 'government imposed duties'), some are charged by airports (see 'departure tax') and some are charged by the airlines themselves (often described as 'carrier imposed surcharges').

An airline will usually add mandatory ticket taxes on top of a ticket’s base fare, resulting in the total price of the ticket.

The amount you will pay in airline tax depends on a number of factors, including your country of departure, your arrival destination, as well as a number of other factors, such as your age (young children are often exempt) and your class of travel.

The United Kingdom
Airline Tax and Fees Explained


Air Passenger Duty (APD) is charged on the carriage of passengers flying from the United Kingdom on a commercial aircraft.

Research by Airlines UK, the trade body for UK registered airlines and representing airlines including British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet, has published a report stating that the amount of mandatory tax added to an airline ticket can add up to as much as half the price of an off-peak, short-haul flights, and about 40% of a long-haul ticket.

APD Rates

The amount of APD you will be required to pay is based on two factors: your class of travel and the distance you’re flying. Those flying long distance will pay significantly more tax, as will those flying in a higher class. APD adds £13 to the cost of every short-haul ticket and £78 to every long-haul fare. Those travelling in premium cabins need to pay £26 or £172 per person, distance depending. UK APD is also set to rise in abril 2020 (to £176 on long distance flights).


Band (from 1 abril, 2019*) Reduced Rate: Travel in the lowest class Standard Rate: For any other class of travel Highest Rate**
Band A (0 – 2,000 miles) £13 £26 £78
Band B (Over 2,000 miles) £78 £172 £515


*fees set to change in abril 2020

**Highest Rate classed as: flights over 20 tonnes and equipped to carry fewer than 19 pax

The United States
Airline Tax and Fees Explained


Airlines and their passengers pay many taxes and fees to a variety of authorities.

The amount a passenger pays in taxes and fees on a ticket will vary based on itinerary, including the number of flights and which airports someone is flying to. The total price of the flight ticket will include these mandatory taxes.

US Government taxes on flights include the following:


Federal Excise Tax: A federal excise tax of 7.5% is charged on all domestic flights. Airlines must include that tax in their advertised fares - a rule set out by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Segment Fee: A segment fee of up to $4.20 USD applies per flight segment (domestic and international). A flight segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Passenger Facility Charges: Individual airports can impose ‘passenger facility charges’ (PFCs) of $4.50 USD (but up to $18 USD) to the price of the ticket, depending upon the itinerary.

U.S. or International Departure and Arrival Charges: U.S. or international government imposed taxes and fee of up to $200.00 USD may apply depending upon the itinerary chosen.

septiembre 11 Security Fee: A septiembre 11 Security Fee of $5.60 USD applies per one-way flight. Applies to domestic and international flights. An additional fee(s) of $5.60 can be added if the trip itinerary includes a layover or stopover of longer than four hours (domestically), or 12 hours (internationally), or to/from Alaska and Hawaii.

Additional: Airlines flying to/from the US may also add international taxes and government or airport-imposed fees, including various departure taxes, foreign taxes, inspection fees, and security charges, to the ticket. Select countries, such as the UK, France and Ghana require additional taxes based on the cabin of service.


Booking Flights Through
Alternative Airlines

How much airline tax will I be charged?

It is hard to state how much you should expect to pay in taxes, because, as explained, there are so many factors which will determine the amount of tax an airline will charge, including where you are flying from, where you are flying to, your cabin class, age, whether you have any layovers or connecting flights, as well as many other factors. Two airlines operating the same route may charge a different amount of air tax.

When you search for flights through Alternative Airlines, we display the total price of the ticket, which includes mandatory taxes and fees charged by the airline. You can even click the ‘price breakdown’ tab, so you can see exactly what taxes and fees are included in the total price of the ticket. 

Start by entering your chosen departure and arrival destinations and dates of travel into the Alternative Airlines search bar, and press 'Search'. All available flights will appear: 

Alternative Airlines search results for London to New York

Select the 'Price breakdown' pulldown-tab. You will then be able to view a price breakdown, showing the base fare and taxes that add up to the total price, as displayed in the search results:

An example of how to view the price breakdown of search results  


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