Budget airline Ryanair has been accused of “outrageously” blocking customers from its flights unless they repay money previously refunded for cancelled trips.
Holidaymakers have said their plans were left in tatters after the airline informed them they would be unable to fly unless they paid Ryanair money previously refunded via credit card “chargebacks”.
It is thought thousands used the consumer credit rules after they were unsuccessful in getting money back directly from the airline for trips disrupted by coronavirus.
It comes after the Competition and Markets Authority watchdog last week dropped its investigation into allegations Ryanair and British Airways had unfairly denied customers refunds during the crisis, and instead offered travellers vouchers for future flights.
Outraged customers said they were met with payment demands at check-in, just hours before they were due to fly.
Matthew Glover, a 42-year-old IT technician from the West Midlands, said he was told he would “never be able to fly with Ryanair again” unless he cleared a £680 debt placed on his account.
“In January 2020, we booked return flights to France, but couldn’t fly because of the travel ban. Ryanair didn’t offer any refunds, so I made a section 75 claim through my American Express card,” he said.
“In January we booked flights to France again. I attempted to change them for a different date, but before I could go any further, I was met with a screen demanding payment from the 2020 trip. Ryanair said it did not accept the chargeback as, technically, the plane still took off.”
Guy Anker of Moneysavingexpert, the consumer website which first uncovered the issue, said Ryanair’s actions were “absolutely outrageous”.
“It essentially had these passengers over a barrel shortly before their holiday,” he said.
“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.”
Ryanair defended its actions. Its terms and conditions state it reserves the right to stop people flying if they owe the firm money “in respect to payment having been dishonoured, denied or recharged against us”. It does not refund customers who choose of their own accord not to travel on flights that are still going ahead.