An airport tax is a tax levied on passengers for passing through an airport. The tax is generally imposed for the use of the airport and is one of a number of taxes that are typically included in the price of an airline ticket. Revenue from airport taxes fund is used for facility maintenance.

Breaking Down Airport Tax

Airport taxes are charged to fund the construction, maintenance, and administration of airports and airway systems. For this reason, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) describes these taxes as user fees because the funds generated do not flow back to the general treasury. Often, the bulk of the fee is called the landing fee, paid by the aircraft and transferred to the customer via the price of the traveler’s online ticket, to land at a specific airport. In this case, the airline will forward the fee to the proper agency. Some airports charge a single fee for landing and provide gates and check-in facilities as part of that fee. Other airports will charge a lower fee for landing but will charge airlines for the use of gates and check-in facilities. These fees will vary greatly depending on the popularity of the airport, with congested airports charging premium prices due to higher demand, and less popular airports charging less because demand is not as high. General aviation airports do not charge landing fees.

Airport taxes are usually charged to passengers departing from or connecting through an airport. Some airports do not levy these fees on connecting passengers who do not leave the airport or passengers who have a connecting flight that is within a specific timeframe from the time of arrival. The amount of airport tax levied on a passenger depends on a number of factors, most prominently whether the flight is a domestic or international one. International flights typically carry a higher airport tax. In the U.S. international arrival and departure taxes are $18.30 for any international air transportation starting or ending in the U.S. except for transportation from the Continental U.S. from a city within the 225-mile buffer zone.

Meanwhile, U.S. Domestic passenger tax that applies to journeys that begin and end in the U.S. or the 225-mile buffer that extends into Canada or Mexico is $4.20, as of 2018. This also includes a 7.5% excise tax imposed on all domestic flights. Also, taxes can range in rates depending on several other factors, such as the size of the plane and time of day.