Ryanair has been accused of holding passengers to ransom after it grounded customers who had requested credit card chargebacks for flights they couldn’t take during the pandemic. The passengers say they were heeding official government advice that ordered people to stay at home and avoid going abroad on holiday.
The passengers had demanded refunds for the flights they couldn’t take in 2020 but Ryanair refused their requests because the flights still went ahead as scheduled. Acting upon legal advice, some affected customers requested chargebacks through their credit card providers.
In all the cases investigated by MoneySavingExpert.com, chargebacks had been authorised by American Express. The customers thought that was the end of the matter and some went on to book new flights with Ryanair once travel restrictions were eased.
Customers were initially allowed to book the flights through Ryanair’s website without any issues but only when they went to check-in for their flights or amend a booking did Ryanair tell them they would have to repay the airline for the flights they had successfully won chargebacks for.
Ryanair demanded amounts ranging from £400 to £630.
In some cases, Ryanair’s fraud department got involved, demanding passengers pay up for forever be banned by the airline.
Ryanair offered to refund the flights for the new flights if customers chose not to voluntarily pay back the chargeback amounts. Matthew Glover from the West Midlands chose to get a refund for the new flights but remains ‘in debt’ with Ryanair to the value of £632.
“The situation has been really badly handled by Ryanair and the lack of communication is very poor. To me, it feels like Ryanair is following the easiest path of action for itself regardless of the impact on its customers,” Matthew said.
He will be barred from flying with Ryanair until his ‘debt’ is repaid.
Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently dropped a probe in pandemic refund practices at Ryanair and British Airways meaning that many passengers won’t be allowed to pursue their claims for disputed refunds.
Although the CMA believes the two airlines should refund passengers for flights they couldn’t take, the authority doesn’t believe it can take enforcement action with the available legislation.
A Ryanair spokesperson has dismissed the complaints, saying: “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.
They state that we may refuse to carry you if you owe us any money in respect of a previous flight owing to payment having been dishonoured, denied or recharged against us.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.