‘Absolutely outrageous’: Ryanair passengers who received Covid refunds banned from flying

Ryanair CEO demands UK adopts European system

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Low-cost airline Ryanair barred the passengers who received refunds from flights affected by Covid unless they return the money – in some cases days before travel, MoneySavingExpert revealed. 

Some Ryanair passengers who booked flights this year were told by the airline that they could only fly if they gave back the refund.

MSE spoke to three holidaymakers who were told they could not fly again until they returned the money. The refunded amounts were between £400 to £630.

Affected passengers reportedly received their original refunds from their credit card company via the ‘chargeback’ process, after Ryanair first refused to give the money back.

The affected holidaymakers initially booked Ryanair flights for summer 2020. The flights weren’t cancelled but they chose not to travel due to Government advising them not to visit those destinations.

After asking Ryanair for a refund and the airline refusing to make a payment, they turned to their bank where they could claim cash from retailers if the services paid for were not received.

A few months after that, the passengers then booked holidays for summer 2021 without any problems, but when they tried to check in, they found Ryanair wanted to charge back the money returned.

“Travelling with Covid restrictions is stressful but this totally unforeseen payment demand took stress to a new level. Ryanair took a new booking for flights and surprised me when I tried to check in online three days before travelling to discover this demand,” explained one passenger.

Ryanair did offer to return the money for this year’s flights if the three customers did not repay the chargeback but some had already spent hundreds on accommodation.

The low-cost airline explains in its T&Cs that if flights go ahead they are non-refundable.

It also says that the carrier can deny boarding to customers who have “recharged against us” for a previous flight.

MSE lawyers claimed the airline denying boarding after their successful chargeback claims, wasn’t “reasonable” as other airlines allow customers to rebook or request a voucher in this same case.

Airlines can deny boarding, but only if there are “reasonable grounds” to do so. British Airways, Easyjet, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic all said they would not ban passengers who had received a chargeback from travelling in the future.

“This is absolutely outrageous behaviour from Ryanair. It essentially had these passengers over a barrel shortly before their holiday at a point which turned excitement into stress and anxiety. And by its fraud department collecting the money, passengers could be forgiven for feeling scared and thinking Ryanair considers they are somehow in trouble,” deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, Guy Anker, said.

“Some may have sympathy for Ryanair given it incurred the costs of the original flights that did go ahead that passengers chose not to take.

“However, it’s then used up any sympathy by the way it’s treated holidaymakers afterwards. If Ryanair wants to ban people for getting a refund that the card companies judge was fair, that leaves a sour taste in the mouth, but to let them book a holiday and only tell them this news at the last minute shows no regard for fellow human beings.

“If this has happened to you, then you have official complaints channels you can use to try to free yourself of the ‘debt’, while you’d be forgiven for choosing another airline.

“But don’t let this put you off using chargeback. It is still a very useful scheme and we don’t recall ever seeing an incident such as this before.

“However, there is clearly a risk if companies conduct themselves as Ryanair has done – so if you use chargeback to claim money back from Ryanair, and you want to make a future booking with the budget airline, it’s best to check your status with it first,” he explained to MSE.

Ryanair said about the case: “Mr Johnston initiated a chargeback via his bank for the value of his flights. However, refunds are only permitted for cancelled flights so the outstanding balance was added to Mr Johnston’s Ryanair account as this is still owed to Ryanair.

“Ryanair flights that operate as scheduled are non-refundable – this is clearly outlined in Ryanair’s T&Cs agreed by the customer at the time of booking.”

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