Ryanair has been accused of barring some passengers who previously received refunds for flights disrupted by Covid from travelling again unless they returned the money.
The claim was made by consumer website MoneySavingExpert (MSE) after an investigation found that some holidaymakers who booked flights for this year were later told by the no-frills carrier that they could only fly if they gave back the refunds – in one case just days before travel.
MSE said its campaigns team has flagged the cases to the Civil Aviation Authority.
However, in response, the airline said: “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.”
MSE said it had spoken to three passengers who were told they could not fly until they returned the cash, with amounts ranging from £400 to £630.
The individuals MSE spoke to received their original refunds from their credit card company via the ‘chargeback’ process, after first being refused refunds by Ryanair.
The cases refer to flights booked for summer 2020 which went ahead but the passengers chose not to travel due to government warnings against non-essential travel at the time to their chosen destinations.
The three passengers, who were lead bookers of the original flights, then booked holidays for summer 2021 without any problems, but later found that when they tried to check in or make a change to their reservation that Ryanair wanted the chargeback money returned before allowing them to travel, according to MSE.
Ryanair said its T&Cs state that if flights still go ahead they are non-refundable, and that the airline can deny boarding to customers who have “recharged against us” for a previous flight.
According to MSE, the airline’s T&Cs say: “We may refuse to carry you or your baggage on any flights operated by an airline of the Ryanair Group, if… you owe us any money in respect of a previous flight owing to payment having been dishonoured, denied or recharged against us.”
British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic all said they would not prevent passengers who had received a chargeback from travelling in future.
Guy Anker, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “Some may have sympathy for Ryanair given it incurred the costs of the original flights that did go ahead that passengers chose not to take.
“However, it’s then used up any sympathy by the way it’s treated holidaymakers afterwards.
“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.”