Ryanair refuses refund to family struck by sudden illness

Kerry family forced to cancel trip due to operation and chemotherapy, but refund and credit note refused by airline

“All Ryanair tickets are non-refundable, as stated in our terms and conditions,” a spokeswoman said. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

“All Ryanair tickets are non-refundable, as stated in our terms and conditions,” a spokeswoman said. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

It is not often losing part of a lung to illness is described as an “inconvenience” but it is the word Ryanair used when refusing to consider a refund or even a credit note for a Kerry family who had to cancel a holiday after one of their travelling party fell ill.

A reader called Ted contacted us recently to highlight his difficulties dealing with the airline after his family got some very bad news.

“We booked flights for my wife, mother-in-law and myself to go to Tenerife on September 22nd,” his mail starts. “We were all looking forward to going but since I booked the flights, my mother-in-law had to go to Cork University Hospital to have a bit of her lung and rib removed.”

Doctors in the hospital told her she would not be able to fly for at least three months because of the illness and then she was informed necessary chemotherapy would have to begin on September 19th. “Ryanair asked me to send in the letters from both her doctor and from the medical staff in Cork University Hospital which I did,” Ted says.

“Ryanair came back to me and told me they do not give refunds under any circumstances. I can’t change my fights for another date because I don’t know how things will be in six months time. I can’t believe how heartless Ryanair are. I would take a credit note but they are having none of it. They said I could change my flights at a cost, but I don’t know when we can travel again. I would just like to highlight [the need]to be careful before you book flights with Ryanair.”

Plenty of bad news stories about Ryanair have come in to our mailbox over the years but – to its credit – we have also received some correspondence from people who have suffered bereavements and been unable to travel who have had ticket prices refunded in full. And very quickly too.

So we got in touch to see if it would do anything to help this family out. The answer was a pretty emphatic no. “While we regret any inconvenience,” a spokeswoman said, “all Ryanair tickets are non-refundable, as stated in our terms and conditions agreed to at the time of booking. In this instance, the customer was offered the opportunity to change their flight dates upon the payment of our flight change fee and advised to contact their travel insurer.”

That, it would seem, is that.

Ted’s story does highlight the importance of travel insurance.

Unlike most other insurance policies, notably motor and health insurance, it is by any measure excellent value for money. An annual multi-trip travel insurance policy for an adult can be had for less than €50, while a family of four can take out a year-long policy for not much more than €100.

But timing is key when it comes to taking out travel insurance and it needs to be taken out as soon as a trip is booked and not seconds before the flight takes off. As many as two-thirds of all claims are down to changing family circumstances or a bereavement. And none of us have any idea when such things might happen.

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