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Ryanair complaint – long saga for Australian traveller

I received this letter from a very frustrated Ryanair passenger recently – an Australian travelling from London to Dublin with Ryanair.

While I referred the passenger to the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation, I don’t believe they will have any joy with a complaint there. Given that the passenger was originating in the UK, it’s most likely that any complaint will need to be made to the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

I have asked for an update on how the passenger gets on, and will post any updates when I get them.

My friend, Miss *. ******** purchased two tickets online for us to fly with Ryanair. The tickets were for flight FR113 on Sunday 24th May, 2009, London Gatwick to Dublin (LGW-DUB). We checked in online before the flight.  Miss *. ******** has a European (English) passport and I have an Australian passport.

When we arrived at Gatwick airport there was much chaos due to a power shortage. This effected the baggage conveyer belts and brought things to a standstill. We lined up to ask about the required visa check, although online research stated that Australian passport holders did not need a visa for Ireland. After waiting for a long time in the check-in line and not moving, we became worried that we may not make it in time to the gate. Furthermore, there were people in line for many different Ryanair flights and destinations. I spoke with an employee of the airport and he confirmed that being an Australian, I did not need a Visa check to travel to Ireland. I believed this to be true as I was allowed to check-in on-line and was given a boarding pass from the Ryanair website. Having no baggage to check in we decided it would be best that we proceed to the gate so as not to miss our flight.

We proceeded through passport control and security. At gate 14 we again had our tickets and passports checked by security. It was only at the final check before boarding the plane that I was informed that I could not proceed because I did not have a stamp for the Visa check.  The lady representing Ryanair said that I needed to have the ticket stamped at the check-in. I explained the hopeless situation that I experienced at check-in with the power shortage, but she was apathetic and stated that I could not fly without the stamp or they, Ryanair, would be fined four thousand pounds. I raced back to security/passport control where again I was informed that I did not need nor did anyone need a Visa stamp to depart England. I returned to the lady representing Ryanair where she repeated that I could not travel without the stamp.

The lady representing Ryanair then took my friend’s ticket, Miss *. ********, and asked both of us to go with airport security to the Servisair Service Desk to stamp my ticket and return to the flight. We were escorted to the desk by security where we were met by another three Australians, all who were in the same predicament as myself. After waiting for some time I became worried that not only I would miss the flight for not having a stamp, but also my friend, Miss *. ********, who did not require a stamp and had also been escorted to the desk. When I asked the lady at the service desk about Miss *. ******** missing the flight, she reassured me that the flight had been delayed due to the power shortage and that the representative from Ryan Air was on their way with the stamp. We waited for 30 minutes and no Ryanair representative arrived.

The lady from the service desk then asked the five of us to follow her. We were escorted a back way through security and passport control. She then informed us that we had missed the flight, she would not answer questions on being reimbursed or provision of tickets for the next available flight. I had family waiting for me at Dublin’s Airport, who I was yet to inform about this dilemma and we had travel arrangements that depended on us boarding this flight. This event not only inconvenienced me, but those of many family and friends.

Totally confused by the misleading information, inability of staff to disclose details of what they knew to be happening, the obstruction Miss *. ******** and I had experienced by the Servisair employees, who I trusted to be representatives of Ryan Air, and the inability of staff to produce a stamp or describe where I could locate one, I went and spoke to another employee at a Servisair desk. She informed me that we would need to take the issue up with Ryanair who are only represented by a computer, that is, on-line and not with Servisair.

We had lost our seats through no fault of our own. Miss *. ******** had lost her seat because she was instructed to wait with me. With family and friends waiting for us at Dublin airport, we had no other choice but to purchase another two tickets for the next available Ryanair flight FR 115, which with the delays did not leave until five hours later at 3:00pm.

The tickets for flight FR115 cost us 223.04 English pounds each, coming to a total of 446.08 English pounds.

The tickets that we were obstructed from using for flight FR113 cost 78 English pounds each, totalling 156 English pounds.

Hence the cost for the two of us to fly from Gatwick to Dublin was 602 English pounds.

Furthermore, when checking in for flight FR115 to get a stamp on my ticket which read ‘received’, the employee who recognized me from flight FR113 and could not permit me to board, looked at my passport and ticket as she did at gate 14. The only difference was the stamp ‘received’, which no one was able to produce until this moment and that I had no access to, another 446.08 English pounds later.

If Ryanair are only represented by computers then why was I allowed to check in online?  Why was Miss *. ******** asked to wait with me and not permitted to board the plane? Why do I need a stamp and why is it so hard to locate? Also, why are we as consumers expected to be understanding during inconveniences beyond the Airlines control, such as a power shortages, which caused delays to the flight. Yet, Ryanair did not reciprocate this sentiment to the four Australians and Miss *. ********, the consumers? What happened to service?

I am forwarding this letter to the consumer watchdog in England, Ireland and Australia in the hope that no other Australians fall victim to such fraudulent plane tickets. A copy has also been forwarded to Servisair GlobeGround and Ryanair. I have all required original documentation as evidence of the above events.

I look forward to your reply and welcome an explanation for how this can be permitted to happen and furthermore, be legal in England and Ireland.

6 comments On Ryanair complaint – long saga for Australian traveller

  • As one of the other Australians involved I can confirm the situation was one of confusion and severe disappointment. I understand RyanAir are trying to protect themselves against the cost of returning passengers to London who may not be allowed into Ireland but surely as Australians there is no restriction that would forbid us visiting Ireland that would not have been identified when arriving at London? There is certainly no Visa requirement I know of.

    I also understand that by not having the stamp that we are technically at fault but surely as paying customers there was a better way to handle the situation – it wasn’t just one passenger but five who were put out by unhelpful staff that day.

    The “Visa Check” policy sorely needs reviewing.

  • I and 3 of my friends today missed a flight from cork to london and we were unable to get thru to any ryanair staff member following numerous attempts. I am really very disappointed with Ryan air although I have used them approx 5 times a year over the past 5 years. I WILL HOWEVER NEVER USE RYAN AIR AGAIN…

  • I too experienced many problems trying to fly with RyanAir. On one occasion I had a 2.00pm flight from Leeds to Dublin. I arrived at the airport at 1.10pm to find no staff at the RyanAir check in counter. I waited ten minutes with another few passengers but no staff appeared. I asked the staff at the excess baggage counter to find some one to check us in. She called someone who told her the flight had closed!!! The flight was not suppose to close until 1.30pm but they had closed it for no good reason at 1.05pm!! By this time there were now around 10-12 extra passengers waiting to check-in. Some one finally did appear after I threw one heck of a tantrum (a slightly stupid thing to do in an airport). The flight ended up being delayed by 45minutes to allow us on. There were no apologies from RyanAir just annoyed looks from cranky staff. VERY poor form!! I flew from Leeds to Dublin every second weekend for six months and EVERYTIME there was some issue. Awful airline, bad service! I would not use them again.

  • As a travel agent I had a group of 30 adults that wanted to go from Bristol to Budapest
    a nice booking and a good commission
    I was happy to do the booking as Easyjet flew the route however just before confirming the group Easyjet pulled out and ryanair took over and I advised the group leader to drop Budapest and change to Prague which easyjet still served and this she did.
    I would rather have lost the booking and commision than booked ryanair and i must point out Ive booked busses in Namibia , light aircrafts fromvic falls etc but id never book ryanair…

  • I’ve told this story to three sites now, but I’ll add it here again. Brilliant letter by the way.

    Yesterday the old visa stamp trick caught me out too, in Birmingham – I’m am Australian, but living in the Netherlands. I fully agree with the above comments – it was my fault, technically speaking. The difference in my case was that the ground staff had already let me on the plane. After seeing the mistake the hostess quite politely told me to walk up to the gate to ‘get a stamp’. At the time I was completely unaware what stamp she was talking about. When I arrived back at the gate and asked for ‘the stamp’ I was immediately told that I would not be allowed back on the plane. Nice way to break the news given that I had left my girlfriend and her parents on the plane, with my phone and bagage. I did luckily have my wallet.

    The next thing I know they are asking my EU-passport-holding girfriend to leave the plane too. The pretence was that they had to get my bag off the plane. A fair request except that we had packed one bag for two people – so I didn’t technically have a bad. Try explaining that conundrum to an 18-year-old with a suit and a Servisair name badge. The result was that my girlfriend was coerced off the plane with no explanation at all as to why I was not going to catching the flight. The result was that instead of one extra ticket, I had to pay for two.

    And then, my girlfriends parents, after watching both of us leave the plane without explanation were asked to stand up and move to front of the cabin (along with 9 other passengers who were sitting around us), while they checked the seats for anything ‘suspicious’. Unfortuneately my girlfriends parents, with no information as to what happened to us did not see the funny side, and (as infrequent flyers) were in fact quite traumatised by the whole experience.

    We managed to get home to the Netherlands two hours later, no great drama. But I would be very interested to get some resolution on how they justify their stamp, and furthermore, how they justify pulling a ‘legitimate’ EU-citizen off the plane. I’m searching further for avenues of … well, anything ranging from ranting complaint to full blown legal action. Not that either will get me very far I suspect. But it was good to get it off my chest.

  • same thing happened to our family 2 weeks ago in luton airport involving a flight to knock,ireland.myself husband and 3 small children were not allowed to board our flight.after 11 hours in luton airport we got on a flight to galway with aer arann which we had to purchase on a credit card .it cost 900 euro!we tried every other available option.our car was in knock. ryanair were charging us 500 pounds (plus bags i presume) to go on same flight the next day.id rather hitch home than give them that the next day.our whole holiday in england cost less than the price home.we didnt have that kind of money to fork out for another flight home especially when there was no reason for us not to be on the booked flight with ryanair.sooo mad,not done with ryanair,intend finding more about passengers rights etc.funny thing is they even admitted at the gate the girl at check in should have noticed that 2 members of our family needed this check and should have sent us there.the 2 members in question (2 children)were born in the usa but were actually carrying irish passports.2 other members of our family are irish born but had usa passports and they were going to let them go on for a few minutes til they decided at gate they couldnt go either even though they didnt require visa check,they were letting me travel i told them to shove it as if im going to leave my husband and 3 small kids behind.something very wrong here,intend looking more into this

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