Lonely Planet Writer

Beat the air travel tax hike

If you’re booking a flight from the UK, you may notice from 1 November that it seems a little more expensive. The travel industry’s least favourite three little words, Air Passenger Duty, is on the rise.

APD first entered many people’s consciousness when it was doubled in in February 2007 as a environmental tax on flying. Critics said there was no proof that monies raised were doing anything to help the environment. Supporters said the polluter should pay.

It now costs more to fly from London's Heathrow Airport

Now Air Passenger Duty has been raised again. On short-haul flights the charge has only gone up by £1, to £11. It’s on long-haul journeys you’re most likely to notice the difference. The cost goes up the further you fly and if you go as far as Australia or New Zealand you’ll pay £60 rather than the previous £40.

You' may have heard various prominent airline industry types getting in a lather about this in the UK media over There’s not much you can do about APD – it’ll be added to the already long line of charges added agonisingly on to what you thought was a cheap fare – but we do have a few suggestions for making the pill a little easier to swallow:

- Though these figures sound high, in reality you can often shave this cost off a flight, especially a long-haul one. Shop around for the best rates, be flexible on departure dates and times and consider compromising on stopovers.

- On short-haul journeys, look into taking the train. You’ll avoid the charge altogether and have a much more fun journey.

- Go hand luggage only: many airlines charge for checking a bag. Carry your own on and you’ll pay less, usually saving more than you’re paying in additional APD. OneBag.com has some suggestions.

- Remember: if you don’t fly, claim APD back through your airline! You can claim back this and other taxes, even on non-refundable flights.

Tom Hall