Guidance

Air passenger duty and connected flights

Check which flights to treat as connected for air passenger duty returns and payments.

The basics

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) treats connected flights as one journey and charge air passenger duty according to the passenger’s final destination.

The amount of air passenger duty due is based on the rate band of the final destination of a connected flight and the class of travel. If a passenger travels in more than one class on their journey, the standard rate is due on the whole journey.

It doesn’t matter how many flights passengers take to reach their destination, as long as the flights are connected. Connected flights must be shown on the same ticket or on conjunction tickets and meet the time related rules.

In all cases, the plane operator for the first flight pays duty on the whole journey.

If the first flight of a connected journey is exempt, then the whole journey is exempt from duty.

There are different rules used to work out if flights are connected, depending on whether they’re domestic or international connections. The 4 types of flights are:

  • a domestic connection where both are UK domestic flights
  • a domestic connection from an international flight to a domestic flight
  • an international connection with a domestic UK flight to an international flight
  • an international connection with an international flight to another international flight

Domestic connections

Flights are classified as connecting based on the arrival time of the first flight and the departure time of the second flight. To qualify as a connected flight, these rules apply:

If the first flight is scheduled to arrive between: Then the second flight must be scheduled to depart:
4am and 5pm within 6 hours of the scheduled arrival of first flight
5pm and midnight at or before 10am the following day
midnight and 4am at or before 10am the same day

For example, in a journey from Paris to Edinburgh via London:

  • the first flight from Paris to London is scheduled to arrive at 1am
  • the second flight from London to Edinburgh is scheduled to leave at or before 10am on the same day

These flights qualify as connected and no duty is due as the first flight departed from an airport outside the UK.

A scheduled time is the time shown on the operator’s timetable when the ticket was issued.

For domestic connections where the airport the second flight arrives at is the same as the first flight departs from, these flights aren’t connected. For example, Manchester to Edinburgh and then Edinburgh to Manchester, isn’t a connected flight.

International connections

Where the second of 2 flights is an international flight (from the UK to an international destination), the flights are connected if its scheduled time of departure is within 24 hours of the scheduled time of arrival of the first flight.

For example, in a journey from Manchester to New York via London:

  • the first flight from Manchester to London is scheduled to arrive at 10am
  • the second flight from London to New York is scheduled to leave at 9am the following day

These flights qualify as connected and duty is due at the relevant band B rate for the whole journey.

If 2 or more international flights are connected, it’s the final destination that decides what duty you should pay.

If 2 or more international flights aren’t connected, you work out the duty using the last destination (that’s not followed by a connected flight).

For example, a journey from London to Rio via Madrid:

  • the first flight from London is due to arrive into Madrid at 6pm
  • the second flight is due to leave Madrid for Rio after 6pm the following day

As more than 24 hours have passed between the flights, they don’t qualify as connected flights for air passenger duty. As the destination of the first flight is Madrid, duty is due at band A rate.

The class the passenger travelled in between Madrid and Rio doesn’t matter, as air passenger duty is not due on this flight.

If the second flight had left Madrid for Rio within 24 hours, then the flights would qualify as connected and duty at the band B rate is due.

A passenger whose final destination is in a lower rate country will pay the higher rate duty if they stop on the way for longer than 24 hours at a destination in a higher rate country.

Flights arriving from and departing to the same country

For international connections where the airport of arrival of the second flight is in the same country as the airport of departure of the first flight, the flights aren’t connected. For example, Paris to London, then London to Marseille, these flights aren’t connected and duty at the relevant band A rate would be due, depending on the class of travel between London and Marseille.

Tickets

In addition to the time related rules, the agreement for travel must be shown on a ticket and include the:

  • airport where the passenger intends to leave from
  • date and time of their intended departure
  • airport that they intend to arrive at

The connected flights must be detailed on the same ticket or conjunction tickets to qualify for the exemption. Tickets are only conjunction tickets if either:

  • they’re in one booklet
  • in separate booklets where each:
    • refers to the other and states that they’re to be read together
    • includes a summary of the flights that make up the passenger’s journey

The flights may meet all the other qualifying conditions for connected flights, but they’ll only qualify for the exemption if the connection is shown on the tickets or a flight summary.

Published 29 January 2018