Comment: Ryanair brings us pantomime season early

Agents should heed the airline’s wishes and refuse to book it, argues David Speakman

After all the recent doom and gloom, the industry enjoyed some light relief last week as we entered the pantomime season early.

Enter stage left Eddie Wilson, ex-Chief People Officer at Ryanair and now CEO of the Ryanair airline. Yes, a titter from the back stalls there that Ryanair actually had a Chief People Officer. A busy man indeed, handling the EU instructions on conforming to local labour laws, union labour issues, pilot shortages and crew strikes until he took over as CEO in August last year.

Eddie, disproving the belief that the rear end of the pantomime horse is a non-speaking part, attempts in the first act to out-O’Leary O’Leary.

Ryanair is an airline that doesn’t want agents or operators to book on behalf of their customers, not even a flight within a package. His grouse was that agents had refused to give email and customer contact details which hindered Ryanair’s ability to refund customers. He did not clarify what other hindrances Ryanair had experienced that had led to widespread delays in refunds to their own direct clients.

Ryanair’s desire to deal direct reflects its belief that all customers should be treated uniformly to Ryanair’s unique after-sales and refund service. No doubt Eddie, with all his honed people skills, believes his company is better placed to deny the refund directly to the customer rather than allow the unfortunate Atol-holder to take the responsibility of refunds, the performance and the flight-only financial protection.

On a serious note, it is clear the rules on the processing of refunds by airlines under EU261 should be more strictly applied as many customers are clearly not satisfied.

I have never dealt with any company that didn’t want to deal with me; if they did they kept quiet about it. Including Ryanair as a component of an Atol “package” is not only a risk you take but an insult too far.

Ask the customer to book Ryanair direct and explain they can deal direct with one of the market leaders – mentioning that they are not financially protected for flight-only – but be willing to book the other component parts. No Atol “package”.

It’s time the rest of the industry allowed Ryanair to be fully in charge of its own pantomime!


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