Ryanair cancellations: ‘We needed to get home to my little child’

Stress, disappointment and anger continues for some of the airline’s stranded passengers

What has been very stressful for some passengers has been problems with the Ryanair website and the difficulty of making contact with the airline.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

What has been very stressful for some passengers has been problems with the Ryanair website and the difficulty of making contact with the airline. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

While Ryanair and its chief executive, Michael O’Leary, are no doubt hoping that they have taken the heat out of the flight cancellations story, the stress, disappointment and anger continues for affected passengers.

Jennifer Walsh travelled with her husband to Kraków last Friday morning on what was their first break away since the birth of their son more than two years ago. From the airport they went to their apartment and once their bags were deposited left to explore the city.

“When we got back to the apartment I turned on my data and saw a mail from Ryanair saying our flight home on Tuesday had been cancelled,” she told The Irish Times. “Straight away we tried to make contact with Ryanair but could not get through to customer services over the telephone or online. We have our little boy at home and he is just two and this was our first trip away without him so obviously we were concerned,” she said. “All through the weekend we were worrying and the fact that we couldn’t get through to anybody just made it worse.”

On Tuesday morning the couple travelled to the airport and were told they had two choices. “They said we could wait until Friday and fly from Kraków to Dublin or we could fly home via the Netherlands” with the first flight due to leave on Tuesday night and the Dublin-bound flight scheduled to leave Amsterdam on Wednesday morning.

Ten minutes

“We were given 10 minutes to decide what we wanted to do and felt we had to take that Amsterdam route because we needed to get home to my little child,” she said.

In the meantime, The Irish Times had contacted the airline on her behalf and she then got a call “from the Ryanair press office to say that we could get on a flight going to Shannon this evening. I don’t know why we were not offered that initially.

“All we want to do is get back on to Irish soil so I can get back home to my boy. My family are very good and I am hopeful one of them will come pick us up in Shannon and then tomorrow one of us will have to travel to Cork and from Cork to Dublin to get the car. It will leave us out of pocket but it is what we have to do.”

Nicola O’Leary and her partner are travelling to Sofia in October to cheer on their son who is playing for the Republic of Ireland in a qualifying tournament for next year’s European Championships. Her daughter was to travel out too although as she is studying in the UK she was going to be coming from Stanstead and then travelling home with her family to spend her mid-term break in Cork.

Refund

Her flight from Stanstead to Sofia has been cancelled and she can’t get out in time to see her brother play. She will be able to get a refund for that but because the flight Sofia to Dublin has not been cancelled she most likely will not be refunded for that leg of the journey that is not to be.

“The ticket cost her around £100 and I think that is gone, but to be honest it’s not really about the money, it’s more about the fact that she won’t get to see her brother play in the tournament. “We are more disappointed than upset but what else can you do?”

Robin Challis travelled to Nice last Saturday on an Aer Lingus flight with a plan to travel home with Ryanair a week later on the basis that it would give him almost a full day longer in the French city. “We came back to our hotel last night to find an email from Ryanair saying that flight has been cancelled,” he said.

“It has f**ked up the holiday a bit, to be honest, and we have spent the entire morning trying to rebook flights back to Dublin. There was a flight on the Wednesday and if we can get on that we will have to sort out four nights’ accommodation. I am self-employed so fortunately I can do that but what would happen if I didn’t have the money? Or if I had to go back to a job on Monday morning?”

Contact impossible

What has been most troubling for him has been problems with the Ryanair website and the impossibility of making contact with the airline. “I have gone through the process several times on multiple browsers and every time I get to the last screen, the systems freeze. It is very frustrating although we are doing our best to not let this stress us out too much.

“It is Tuesday and we’re not leaving until Saturday so we have time on our side but it has been impossible to contact the airline using either its web chat or the phone. It is all well and good to say the problem is only affecting a small number of people but management knew this was going to happen and they have still dropped 250,000 people in the soup.”

In response to these quereis Ryanair sent the following statement.

“We are currently facilitating large volumes of flight transfers and working with individual customers to identify the best solution. This customer [Jennifer Walsh] originally attempted to change their flight at the airport, and were advised of available routings by our ground handling team. We are happy to have resolved this issue.

“The rebook facility is working on our website. We have already processed a significant number of refunds and flight transfers. We are dealing with high volumes of traffic on our website, live chat and call centres , and we are working hard to reaccomodate all customers.”