Saturday, January 13, 2007

Air Passenger Duty is just the tip of the (melting?) iceberg

Much muttering by angry consumers in the blogosphere and the wider web this weekend over the decision by some airlines to ask for the UK government's Air Passenger Duty to be paid-up before passengers fly - or else.

Typically, Travel Rants has a number of decent threads in place, while the BBC website appears to have gone rather mad during today with ten pages of comments left by users overwhelmingly from the corner marked 'disgruntled'.

And just in the last 20 hours there have been 23 blog posts about the issue, according to Technorati.

In a nutshell: some airlines have said unless passengers pay the new tax they owe on tickets for travel after 1 February 2007 but bought before 6 December 2006, they will be barred from boarding flights.

Airlines are handling the situation in various ways: for example, British Airways is absorbing the increased tax itself; will be taking the extra money via the bank card used for the original transaction; EasyJet will collect the duty either on the day of travel or via the web [they are apparently emailing all affected passengers]; and Ryanair, incurring most of the wrath of consumers, will simply turn customers away unless they have paid up.

The BBC quotes a UK Treasury spokesman as saying the APD is a tax on airlines and it is therefore up to the individual carriers whether to pass on the increase to consumers.

But in reality the entire sorry tale goes something like this:

  • The government is anxious that the public thinks it has green credentials...
  • ...while the airlines are desperately trying hard to do the same
  • Consumers are still reluctant to do anything about their carbon footprint...
  • ....but airfares, especially short haul, are still cheaper than ever before
  • The industry's often quoted defence is that airlines account for just 2% of emissions...
  • ...but little is said about how the figure is expected to grow five-fold in the very quickly
The latest increase in APD, implemented by the government and actioned by the air industry, both of whom are guilty of creating the most chaotic situation possible in terms of the APD's impact on consumers, is just one of a catalogue of developments that will have hardly inspired consumers and the business world into thinking anybody really has a grip on what to do.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution


Anonymous said...

I'm one of them consumers that's a tiny big miffed by how some of the airlines are dealing with the APD.

Okay, there's not getting away from the fact that we have to pay this damn extra duty, and when it comes down to it it's only an extra £5 or £20 but it's I think some of these airlines need to take a course in customer care.

Easyjet are expecting people to pay the fee within a week or so of sending out emails. are taking money from consumers credit and debit cards wihtout their permission

... and my friend Mr O'Leary is been an arse and expecting people to pay the tax when we have already paid the flight, and without any notification from them.

Virgin are reporting not making a decision yet, but rumour has it that they will not be able to do the decent thing like and pay the additional duty.

Oh, I love been a travel blogger! :D [end of rant]

Anonymous said...

Smart piece of analysis. The situation is shambolic simply because nobody (probably quite rightly) wants to accept responsibility for the issue.

Anonymous said...

I'm at the point now where I don't have a problem with paying the APD, but my problem is how the airlines are dealing with implementing it.

Customer care has fallen out of the window with this issue I am afraid.