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UK's Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax -- Questions, How to avoid, Refunds if incorrect,..

UK's Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax -- Questions, How to avoid, Refunds if incorrect,..

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Old Nov 21, 13, 10:42 am
  #1  
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UK's Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax -- Questions, How to avoid, Refunds if incorrect,..

I know there is another thread, but I think this is the first time UA has admitted that they charge an additional Passenger Service Charge for using a GPU to upgrade (even though I was a transit passenger) AND that they levy an additional YQ (Fuel Surcharge) to upgrade to Business Class from LHR.

I received an email from a NHC Customer Care Manager, after filing a DOT complaint about the attempt at being charged to use a GPU on a transit itinerary.

In the email that person stated:
"The agent requested an additional $100.00 because the fuel surcharge and the departure tax both increase when you change cabins. The charges for your return flight, and containing all appropriate taxes, would have been $138.60. This fee includes the additional difference in fare for the Passenger Service Charge which for the BusinessFirst cabin is $96.00 (you paid $48.00), and the BusinessFirst fuel surcharge should have been $246.00 (you paid $178.40). The total cost for the additional fee would have been $138.40 per person, if the agent had fared the surcharge correctly.

Please understand it is not our intent to collect fees unnecessarily, however, we are unable to absorb the cost when the passenger changes from the coach cabin to BusinessFirst even if they are using the Global Premier Upgrade."

I love how they are unable to absorb the cost of me suddenly weighing more when I move into the BusinessFirst cabin and absorb more fuel.

This is the kind of stuff that keeps me from spending any real money on UA, I sent an email to the UK CAA regarding this as well.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Nov 22, 13 at 6:33 am Reason: retitled thread to match events
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Old Nov 21, 13, 10:54 am
  #2  
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I'm failing to see the issue.

Many airlines have different fuel surcharges for different cabins.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 10:54 am
  #3  
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I'd almost buy this story, except that the numbers are still wrong.

Just because the agent processing the transaction doesn't understand what the numbers are and tries to come up with an explanation - one which doesn't actually make sense nor add up - doesn't mean that said explanation is actually accurate.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 10:58 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by aacharya View Post
I'm failing to see the issue.

Many airlines have different fuel surcharges for different cabins.
The issue is, this is not up-faring, but using our GPUs, United has always said they charge the difference in Taxes to upgrade out of LHR/CDG (Chirac Tax).

Now they are charging an Additional Fuel Surcharge to upgrade, this basically amounts to a co-pay to use our GPU.

Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
I'd almost buy this story, except that the numbers are still wrong.

Just because the agent processing the transaction doesn't understand what the numbers are and tries to come up with an explanation - one which doesn't actually make sense nor add up - doesn't mean that said explanation is actually accurate.
Again, LHR station agent (agent processing the transaction) asked for $100 to use my GPU, this reply is coming from the department that deals with DOT complaints and has to submit a copy of this email to the DOT showing what they were trying to charge for on the upgrade.

Last edited by zabes64; Nov 21, 13 at 11:00 am Reason: added quote from sbm12
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Old Nov 21, 13, 11:01 am
  #5  
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Originally Posted by zabes64 View Post
The issue is, this is not up-faring, but using our GPUs, United has always said they charge the difference in Taxes to upgrade out of LHR/CDG (Chirac Tax).

Now they are charging an Additional Fuel Surcharge to upgrade, this basically amounts to a co-pay to use our GPU.
Not at all. It is not an additional charge - it is a different fuel surcharge (if this is even true) that happens to cost more than a coach ticket.

Compare YQ on a new Y and Z ticket. Then get back to us.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 11:07 am
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Originally Posted by aacharya View Post
Not at all. It is not an additional charge - it is a different fuel surcharge (if this is even true) that happens to cost more than a coach ticket.

Compare YQ on a new Y and Z ticket. Then get back to us.
Huh? You're not understanding. They're not supposed to charge additional YQ for using a GPU. It's that simple.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 11:32 am
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What exactly is UA's legal situation in the UK when they incorrectly collect a tax that the government is not owed? (The APD for transit passengers.) Does HMRC or the ASA take an interest?
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Old Nov 21, 13, 12:03 pm
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I just used a GPU yesterday on same route, and had to pay $100. Agent said it was a sort of "UK luxury tax"...
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Old Nov 21, 13, 12:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Blootch View Post
I just used a GPU yesterday on same route, and had to pay $100. Agent said it was a sort of "UK luxury tax"...
As we're finding out the difference is only $48 from Economy to Business that the UK government charges UA, I did a sample itinerary on Matrix, my flight was DXB-LHR-IAD and as a transit passenger the UK Passenger Service Charge was $48 for both Economy and Business class if you're in transit for less than 24 hours.

If you're originating in LHR then it is $96, so the other $52 UA is just pocketing and passing off as a tax.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 12:10 pm
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
What exactly is UA's legal situation in the UK when they incorrectly collect a tax that the government is not owed? (The APD for transit passengers.) Does HMRC or the ASA take an interest?
If you call it YQ, you can get away with murder - just look at BA!
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Old Nov 21, 13, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by zabes64 View Post
As we're finding out the difference is only $48 from Economy to Business that the UK government charges UA, I did a sample itinerary on Matrix, my flight was DXB-LHR-IAD and as a transit passenger the UK Passenger Service Charge was $48 for both Economy and Business class if you're in transit for less than 24 hours.
This is not quite right.

There is a Passenger Service Charge that you pay whenever you transit LHR, whether or not you are starting there. Gotta pay this all the time. Amount varies slightly depending on which airport you're in in the UK and fluctuates over time based on, like, inflation. See http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?ca...0&pageid=12677 . This is an airport tax, nothing too weird about it.

Full stop; some PSC applies whenever you have a trip that enters/exits/transits LHR. Price varies a bit.

Separately, there is a 60 reduced-rate Air Passenger Duty that you pay whenever you START a journey from LHR to the USA. And if you fly in a cabin other than coach, you pay 120 instead. Amount varies based on distance between UK and the capital city of the destination country; it's 60/120 to USA. This is about $100 and about $200 respectively; UA just codes it at $100 and pockets/eats the exchange rate difference. See http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/apd.htm for the APD documentation.

Specific problem here is that UA has some logic to charge the APD differential between coach and business when you upgrade a flight ex-LHR but they forgot to write the software code to check whether you are in transit (and should not owe the extra APD) or not. This software error doesn't cost UA money, so no surprise that they haven't fixed it.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 1:48 pm
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Originally Posted by mgcsinc View Post
Huh? You're not understanding. They're not supposed to charge additional YQ for using a GPU. It's that simple.
I fully understand. That's not what they're doing.

They're charging the different YQ involved between a premium class and economy.

http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthew...uce-those-now/

An airline may file a different fuel surcharge amount for premium cabins (so a business class ticket might have a higher fuel surcharge than a coach one). And it is possible to file discounted fares that do not incur fuel surcharges or that have lower ones.

But in general, each route can have a fuel surcharge and itll be a constant amount added onto all fares for that route.
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Old Nov 21, 13, 1:52 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by mgcsinc View Post
Huh? You're not understanding. They're not supposed to charge additional YQ for using a GPU. It's that simple.
And they aren't so it is actually just fine.
Originally Posted by zabes64 View Post
Again, LHR station agent (agent processing the transaction) asked for $100 to use my GPU, this reply is coming from the department that deals with DOT complaints and has to submit a copy of this email to the DOT showing what they were trying to charge for on the upgrade.
So that agent got it wrong. I'm shocked.


No, you should not be charged the higher APD if you are in transit. UA's systems messed that up. And the agent messed up the explanation of how/why you were charged what you were. But that's very different than saying you were charged the YQ. You weren't.
Originally Posted by aacharya View Post
They're charging the different YQ involved between a premium class and economy.
No, they aren't. They're charging the different APD.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Nov 22, 13 at 6:26 am Reason: removed non-compliant image
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Old Nov 21, 13, 2:10 pm
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Originally Posted by aacharya View Post
I fully understand. That's not what they're doing.

They're charging the different YQ involved between a premium class and economy.

http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthew...uce-those-now/

An airline may file a different fuel surcharge amount for premium cabins (so a business class ticket might have a higher fuel surcharge than a coach one). And it is possible to file discounted fares that do not incur fuel surcharges or that have lower ones.

But in general, each route can have a fuel surcharge and itll be a constant amount added onto all fares for that route.


I feel like we're talking past each other here. Yes, there are different YQ's for buying tickets ab initio. No, they are.not.supposed to charge the difference when a GPU is used. Isn't that what the OP is complaining about?

And yes, I understand that the OP is wrong, but that's still what they was complaining about, and if they we're right, it would be an issue..

Put another way, if the OP was charged the YQ difference, that would be wrong, correct?
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Old Nov 21, 13, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by mherdeg View Post
This is not quite right.

There is a Passenger Service Charge that you pay whenever you transit LHR, whether or not you are starting there. Gotta pay this all the time. Amount varies slightly depending on which airport you're in in the UK and fluctuates over time based on, like, inflation. See http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?ca...0&pageid=12677 . This is an airport tax, nothing too weird about it.

Full stop; some PSC applies whenever you have a trip that enters/exits/transits LHR. Price varies a bit.

Separately, there is a 60 reduced-rate Air Passenger Duty that you pay whenever you START a journey from LHR to the USA. And if you fly in a cabin other than coach, you pay 120 instead. Amount varies based on distance between UK and the capital city of the destination country; it's 60/120 to USA. This is about $100 and about $200 respectively; UA just codes it at $100 and pockets/eats the exchange rate difference. See http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/apd.htm for the APD documentation.

Specific problem here is that UA has some logic to charge the APD differential between coach and business when you upgrade a flight ex-LHR but they forgot to write the software code to check whether you are in transit (and should not owe the extra APD) or not. This software error doesn't cost UA money, so no surprise that they haven't fixed it.
Great explanation above. This is what is going on, despite the confused mail from UA.

PMUA did not pass the APD surcharge on for upgrades ex-LHR. PMCO did. About two years ago the PMCO policy was adopted as new UA policy and now you need to pay the $100 to waitlist.

There is a recent thread about UA agents refusing to refund the extra $100 collected after the upgrade did not clear. It was almost certainly an uninformed agent, but the agent claimed to that poster that it was a "policy change".
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