Ryanair passengers accuse airline of ‘blackmail’ after being BANNED from flying over refund row


Furious Ryanair customers have accused the budget airline of ‘blackmail’ after it apparently blocked passengers from taking flights over disputed refunds.  

Customers of the Irish low-cost airline claim they have been barred from Ryanair flights until they repay money ‘refunded’ for trips missed during the Covid pandemic. 

Ryanair customers say the airline refused to refund them for flights they backed out from due to advice at the time by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) not to travel.

They turned to credit card ‘chargebacks’ – a function where credit and debit card users can reverse a disputed transaction – to reclaim their money.

But when the same customers attempted to book new flights through the budget airline refused to let them fly until they had paid back the cash, a MoneySavingExpert investigation found.

Some customers even claim they were met with payment demands at check-in, just hours before they were due to fly. 

Personal finance experts have described the decision to block people from flying due to the refund row as ‘outrageous’, while a Ryanair customer took to social media to accuse the budge airline of ‘blackmail’.

But Ryanair has defended the decision, saying it has the right to stop passengers from flying if they owe the company money.

Ryanair (pictured) customers say the airline refused to refund them for flights they backed out from due to advice at the time by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) not to travel

What is chargeback and how does it work? 

Customers of certain credit card firms, such as Amex, Mastercard and Visa, can use chargeback to reclaim disputed payments made on their debit, credit and charge cards.

The process is usually used when a company refuses a refund. If requested, the card company will step in to claim the money back from the supplier’s bank. 

The function is particularly useful for customers when a company goes under in the time between payment and delivery of goods or services because the money is usually still recoverable from the suppliers bank – though this is not always guaranteed.

But in order to use chargeback you must prove that you have tried to get a refund first and that your request has been refused.

Customers must submit a claim within 120 days of purchase or payment for the service. 

And it is particularly useful when an item or service costs under £100 – beyond which the more powerful and legally-backed Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act is available. 

The row between the airline and customers is over the chargeback function available through payment cards.

Customers of certain credit card firms, such as Amex, Mastercard and Visa, can use chargeback to reclaim disputed payments made on their debit, credit and charge cards.

The process is usually used when a company refuses a refund. If requested, the card company will step in to claim the money back from the supplier’s bank. 

The function is particularly useful for customers when a company goes under in the time between payment and delivery of goods or services because the money is usually still recoverable from the suppliers bank – though this is not always guaranteed.

But in order to use chargeback you must prove that you have tried to get a refund first and that your request has been refused.

Customers must submit a claim within 120 days of purchase or payment for the service. 

And it is particularly useful when an item or service costs under £100 – beyond which the more powerful and legally-backed Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act is available.

Rapidly evolving travel policy earlier this year left some holidaymakers with tough decisions to make over whether to fly.

Though some countries were designated as green or amber on the Department for Transport’s travel list, separate FCDO guidance, at times, was not to fly to these countries – often invalidating travel insurances.

It meant that while customers felt compelled not to travel, the flights still went ahead. 

And Ryanair’s terms and conditions state it does not refund customers who choose of their own accord not to travel on flights that are still going ahead.

The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) – which recently dropped an investigation into Ryanair and British Airlines over complaints they refused to give refunds for missed flights in the Covid pandemic – says airline passengers are not guaranteed refunds for flights when a FCDO warning is in place. 

But it says such refunds are ‘not impossible’.

British Airways, Easyjet, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic told passengers who missed such flights they can rebook or, in some cases, request a voucher in this scenario. 

However some customers, who wanted full cash refunds, utilised chargeback to get reclaim the money for missed flights. 

Now the company are demanding the money back from customers in order for them to continue using Ryanair.   

Travel solicitors Coby Benson from Bott and Co and Colin Murphy from Leigh Day told MoneySavingExpert the airline was wrong to ban passengers from flying unless they paid the money back.

He said: ‘The question is whether or not there were ‘reasonable grounds’ to deny the boarding, and in this case I don’t think there are.’

Meanwhile Mastercard and Visa told the website that while a retailer has the opportunity to challenge a Chargeback claim, the card firm’s decision is final. 

Amex, it reported, would not give its view on this issue. 

Guy Anker, MoneySavingExpert.com deputy editor, described the decision by Ryanair to refuse travellers flights was ‘outrageous’.

He said: ‘Some may have sympathy for the airline given it incurred the costs of the original flights that went ahead that passengers chose not to take. 

‘However, it’s used up any sympathy by the way it’s treated holidaymakers afterwards.

‘The concern is this could happen again, so if you’ve made a Chargeback against Ryanair then think twice before booking with it again.’

He added: ‘But don’t let this put you off using chargeback. It is still a very useful scheme and we don’t recall ever seeing an incident such as this before. 

‘Even if it’s to get money back off Ryanair then do just that and pick another airline to fly with after.’

A spokesperson said: ‘The many millions of Ryanair customers whose flights were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic and who applied directly to Ryanair for refunds, which they received directly from Ryanair, will be completely unaffected by these measures.

‘There is a tiny minority of passengers who purchased non-refundable tickets on Ryanair flights which operated as scheduled during Covid-19 but who chose not to travel and then processed chargebacks via their credit card company.

‘These few passengers will be required to settle their outstanding debt before they will be allowed to fly with Ryanair again.

‘This regretted restriction applies to only a tiny fraction of Ryanair’s 150 million passengers annually who chose to break their booking agreements with us.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk