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.