A Quick Explanation on Extra Fees When You Connect through London

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that connecting through London was generally more expensive than connecting through other cities in Europe when you book an award ticket. Gary from View from the Wing noted that you don’t pay an extra charge when you connect through the UK, you only pay when you stopover in the UK. A commenter noted that London flights ARE more expensive (as I thought). Here’s the deal:

Gary is referring to the Air Passenger Duty, which you DO NOT pay if you are connecting through London (there is a 50+ page document that the British government has put out explaining the details of this rule, but let’s just say for the sake of this discussion that you don’t pay it when you connect through London).

However, airlines may still charge a UK Passenger Service Charge (United is charging $51.40, on an Athens-London-Newark award booking). This is basically the same as the $3 Passenger Facilities Charge (PFC) that airlines charge in the US to offset airline fees. Well, it’s the same except instead of $3 it’s $51.40. This is why connecting through London can be more expensive — there is an expensive facilities charged often baked into the ticket.

So, because both Gary and I are brilliant, we are both correct. Whew.

(I’ve also updated yesterday’s post to reflect this).


  1. Thanks for the update. It is on the united.com website where I’ve observed high taxes connecting through London on award tickets. I’ve always picked other options.

    I’m assuming that other airlines also impose this nasty UK Passenger Service Charge on connecting tickets? Which would explain why I need to pay $179 for an award ticket from the USA to South Africa on Virgin connecting at LHR?

  2. The US PFC is $4.50, not $3. (Technically, an airport can charge less than the maximum, but few do.) And it’s been $4.50 for more than a decade.

    I think you have another correction to make. It’s questionable if you’re brilliant, and you’re definitely not correct.