When April comes around every year we all collectively pay close attention to our personal income taxes. But did you ever wonder what the tax breakdown is on an airline ticket you purchased? In fact, you pay a bunch of different taxes and fees every time you fly – for a variety of reasons.

How much do I pay in taxes on an airline ticket?

That depends. The specific amount a domestic passenger pays in taxes and fees on a ticket varies according to his itinerary, including the number of times he or she boards a new flight and at what airports. When travelers first started flying commercial, there were nowhere near as many of these taxes and fees as now exist.

Additionally, international tickets are subject to a variety of other taxes depending on the destination country and their own specific rules and regulations that govern tax rates for incoming international travelers.

What do airline ticket taxes pay for exactly?

Domestic airline taxes pay for four items:

  • A national security tax of $5.60
  • U.S. excise tax on the base fare of 7.5% (US TAX)
  • Flight segment tax of $4.50 per segment (ZP)
  • Passenger facility charge of $3.00 or $4.50. The passenger facility charge depends on the particular airport – and goes toward airport infrastructure improvements as well as airport operating costs. This fee is based on the departing city.

An example of a Domestic airline ticket tax breakdown

sample taxes on a domestic airline ticket

This example illustrates a roundtrip airline ticket from Burbank to Nashville with a connection in Dallas on the outbound flight and a connection in Phoenix on the return flight. It has a base fare of $319.90 with a fuel surcharge (not typical on most tickets).

The U.S. tax is 7.5% of $319.90 = $24 US excise tax.

The connection each way has a flight segment tax of 11.20 zp (5.60 x 2 ) + 18.00 ZP ($4.50 x 4 segments) + airport tax ($4.50 each airport though a few airports only charge $3.)

What does the tax breakdown look like for an international airline ticket?

International flight taxes can be considerably more complicated. Airlines flying to or from the U.S. may also add international taxes and government or airport-imposed fees, including various departure taxes, foreign taxes, inspection fees, and security charges, to your ticket. Read a good primer for how international taxes are calculated.

At CheapAir.com, we’re committed to bringing you simple, transparent airline tickets. Happy travels!

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