Flying is becoming more expensive – again. With the ticket tax increase by 20 percent, prices will probably also rise for many airlines from May 1st. At least that’s what experts expect. The federal government’s measure has already caused a lot of uncertainty and criticism, not only in aviation itself, but also among travelers. What does this mean for the flight you have already booked? Can I still afford to fly? And what’s the point of all this anyway? We answer the most important questions about the new tax rate at a glance.

Probably the most obvious and at the same time most honest answer: We need more money in the household budget. And since we Germans are a country that likes to travel, this money can be raised relatively easily by increasing the ticket tax on air transport. The federal government expects the measure to generate additional tax revenue of between 400 and 580 million euros in the coming years.

With the new increase in ticket tax in air transport, the amount is now between 15.53 euros and 70.83 euros per ticket – depending on the destination. So far, depending on the distance to the destination airport, the cost has been between 12.48 euros and 56.91 euros.

Experts expect that airfares will generally increase. How strong depends on various factors. On the one hand, there is competition. In regions where there are not so many airlines, prices rise more sharply than in areas where the price competition is fiercer. This is especially true for low-cost airlines. In principle, however, one can assume that the airlines will pass on the tax increase to the end customers, even if not always in full.

Every flight that takes off from Germany is affected. However, the tax rate is divided into three price categories, which are precisely defined in the Aviation Tax Act. Accordingly, 15.53 euros are due for all European travel destinations, Russia, Algeria and Turkey. If you fly to Asia or Africa and travel less than 6,000 kilometers, your flight price will now include 39.34 euros. Flights far away – such as the USA or Australia – will in future be taxed at 70.83 euros.

Most of us have already booked our summer vacation and paid for our flights. But does this also avoid the increased ticket tax – at least for this trip? In fact, airlines that have not adjusted prices early to reflect rising taxes will no longer be able to subsequently demand payment from passengers. However, it can be assumed that most airlines have already adjusted their prices to the increase in advance – and as a result, you have already unknowingly paid the increased rate. From a purely legal perspective, however, the whole thing is a gray area; airlines are not prohibited from demanding subsequent payments. Some even have a corresponding clause in their terms and conditions. It’s worth reading again to avoid unpleasant surprises.

The principle that the sooner the better still applies in this case. The closer the flight gets, the higher the prices usually are. You should take care of your booking no later than two weeks before departure, as that is when the airlines will increase their prices. Last minute is increasingly becoming a discontinued model due to the high demand and rising prices for air travel. Only those who are lucky – or who are very flexible when it comes to their travel destination – can save money here.

Flexibility is the word of the day when it comes to cheap flying. If you book early, are open to undiscovered travel destinations and vacation in the off-season, you can still get some real bargains.

Sources:  Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry, Consumer Advice Center, dpa