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APD for children - American Airlines charge

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I am at a loss here with the new rules for Air Passenger Duty which in the Uk apparently no longer applies to travellers under 16.

I have booked a trip for my daughter to the USA with American Airlines as she will be spending the summer holidays there with relatives. She will be travelling alone and at time of travel will be 15.

Due to her age I couldn't book the ticket online, I had to phone reservations.

 

At British Airways you have to book tickets for minors travelling alone also through reservations rather than online, as British Airways says their online system can't automatically deduct the APD for children at the moment, so you have to go through reservations to avoid being charged.

 

Thought this was the same with AA when it flagged up that you can't book tickets for minors under the age of 16 online.

 

So I phoned the AA reservations line and although it is a UK number I seemed to be connected to the US office.

Anyway, it all was far more difficult than anticipated as I asked about the APD and the guy on the phone didn't seem to understand what I was talking about.

He quoted me £1105.- for a return ticket which is the same I was quoted online for an adult passenger.

I asked whether he had deducted the APD as my daughter was under 16 and he didn't seem to understand what I was talking about. He said their price didn't include any tax apart from the taxes and charges I had to agree to when booking the ticket.

 

So I didn't understand what he was talking about then.

He kept asking whether I did agree to pay the charges and taxes and I kept saying yes as long as it is not the APD which my daughter isn't liable for.

He said that wasn't being applied, so I booked the ticket and paid the £1105.-

However, when I looked at the receipt I noticed that there were carrier imposed charges of £163.- plus £156.85 in taxes.

So I wonder whether they DID charge the APD after all and should refund that tax of £156.85 ?

 

But when I call AA they don't seem to understand and keep saying I agreed to those charges when I booked the ticket.

They also do not respond to e-mails, I just get a confirmation of receipt saying someone will respond within 48 hours, but nobody does.

 

Has anybody got some advice or information for me on this ?

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The route I have booked (London to Charlotte North Carolina) is operated by American Airlines and they are the only airline that goes direct there from the UK (I can't have my daughter change somewhere en route as she is travelling on her own, so needed a direct flight)

You can go through BA as well , but they only sell tickets as an alliance member, they don't operate the flight itself.

As I also booked the additional 'unaccompanied minor service' which is provided by the airline that operates the flight, (in this case AA), I decided to book it all through AA for simplicity.

I didn't realize AA is not aware of the fact that children under 16 won't be paying APD in the UK from March.

I am pretty sure what they sold me includes the APD as the price is the same as I was quoted for an adult through their website.

 

I had a look but don't seem to be able to find a UK address for them I could write to.

The UK telephone number I am pretty sure connects to their USA customer service desk and they don't reply to e-mails apart from automatically generated 'we got your message' receipts.

 

It would appear a lot of airlines have now got the message on their online booking system to call reservations if you travel with exempt minors to avoid being charged. I honestly thought this was the reason AA wanted me to phone them to make the booking.

 

I will try the e-mail you provided though ! !!

Edited by The Phantom
sent too early

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Explain how confusing the information is on their website compared to others.

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Will do, considering there is no information about the APD at all, just that you cannot book tickets for minors under the age of 16 online. You have to call reservations. That's it.

 

If you go to Virgin, BA etc they explain you have to do this so you don't get charged for the APD as the online booking system can't make this adjustment automatically. But these are UK based companies who are obviously aware of the APD. AA is US based and probably not so knowledgeable. Whoever put the note on their website probably doesn't know why people have to call reservations, whilst other airlines know why this has to be like this and make it clear to the customers. Consequently staff is aware of this, whilst AA staff doesn't seem to be aware of it at all. They don't even know what APD is.

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I now managed to get some further information through some additional digging.

 

I ran the ticket through the ITA Matrix website and got a complete breakdown of what is included in my ticket price.

USDA APHIS Fee (XA)

£2.70

US Immigration Fee (XY)

£4.90

US Customs Fee (YC)

£3.80

United Kingdom Air Passengers Duty (GB)

£73.00

United Kingdom Passenger Service Charge (UB)

£41.65

AA YR surcharge (YR)

£143.00

US International Arrival Tax (US)

£12.40

US International Departure Tax (US)

£12.40

US September 11th Security Fee (AY)

£3.90

US Passenger Facility Charge (XF)

£2.10

 

As I suspected the price is inclusive of the UK APD of £73.- which the guy on the phone told me they wouldn't levy , but they did. That is why the price for an adult comes back as exactly the same as for a minor. The APD has not been deducted as it should have been.

 

But also found this

 

http://www.americanairlines.co.uk/content/images/uk/PDF/APD-Tax-for-Children-under-16.pdf

 

there they say they will pro-actively refund passengers who have booked through AA direct, so I guess it means I have to wait until they get around to refund me.

Still shoddy though to charge it although I told the booking clerk to pay attention to that fact and he assured me it wouldn't be levied.

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Just got a reply from their customer relations department:

 

On behalf of American Airlines, thank you for contacting us again. I spoke with our Refunds Department and they advised me to tell you that no changes can be made to tickets or pricing prior to travel as it will void the current ticket. You may request a refund when travel is complete. However, please be advised that a refund may not be applicable as the ticket was purchased prior to the time that the law went into affect. That being said, we will happily review and consider your refund when your daughter's travel is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

 

what a joke. in their leaflet

 

http://www.americanairlines.co.uk/content/images/uk/PDF/APD-Tax-for-Children-under-16.pdf

 

they talk about a proactive refund and now they say I have to wait until after the flight and then they will consider it.

What a joke

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Had a phone call last night from AA Customer Relations. A rather rude woman advised me I am not getting a refund and that's that. The ticket has to be used first as they cannot issue partial refunds. When I asked why their leaflet states they will refund pro-actively she said I didn't read it to the end and offered to read it with me. She read it out and I was waiting for the punch line which didn't come. She just read out what it says. When I asked what the point was she said I am not getting a refund unless I cancel the ticket and that was that. When I said I am going to take this further she said I could take it where ever I wanted for all she cared and I would still not get a refund. She offered that I could take it up with their refunds department direct and said she would e-mail me their details and then hung up on me.

I did get an e-mail shortly afterwards with a postal address in Phoenix Arizona and a telephone number which states 'for US residents only'

and a closing sentence that she hoped they could welcome me aboard shortly.

 

I think that is taking the p**s a little bit.

 

I managed to find a UK registered address though for them.

 

AMERICAN AIRLINES

AA

3rd Floor, Orient House (HAA3), PO Box 365, Waterside

Harmondsworth UB7 0GB

 

I think that is an office at Heathrow airport, maybe for their ground staff or something.

Anyway, I will wait now until after the flight and see if they refund me then voluntarily or not.

 

If they still think they can hold on to my money then I have at least some other options with a UK address.

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Have you recorded the call ?

 

I suggest you contact the man at the top - doug.parker@aa.com and give him the story, but don't drag it out, keep to the point and mention how rude his staff were to you.

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If Doug Parker refuses to help, there is always the Civil Aviation Authority: https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-travel-problems/How-the-CAA-can-help/Refer-your-complaint-to-us/

 

As American Airlines are operating on UK soil, the CAA will have jurisdiction.


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I have e-mailed Doug Parker. The e-mail address is valid. It didn't bounce or anything, but have so far not had a reply.

Would think he would delegate it to someone else in his organisation. (Head of Customer Relations maybe)

 

The woman called me on my mobile last night and I must say she was exceptionally rude. I have no facility to record calls on my mobile unfortunately. I would have loved to share that one with other people as a good example what good customer service is NOT like. Especially when she told me to feel free to contact their Refunds department directly and then simply hung up on me.

 

Totally amazed at this.

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P.S> thanks also for the CAA link. I didn't realize they investigated individual passenger complaints.

Very interesting. Almost like an Ombudsman.

This already gives me a number of options.

THANKS !!

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The plot thickens.

I had a surprise 'out of the blue' refund for the tax straight into my account (obviously credited back to my card I used to pay for this). No communication or anything , just a refund.

Great I thought, but hang on a minute....they said they can't do partial refunds before the ticket is used unless the ticket is cancelled.

So I thought I better check the status of my ticket online...and guess what. The reservation is gone.

I am not well pleased.

Now trying to get onto the phone to them.

I paid over £1000.- for the ticket. Got £73.- back which they shouldn't have charged in the first place but the reservation is now gone.

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