Ryanair under fire for putting price limits on rerouted flights

Airline criticised over restrictions for passengers hit by cancellations

A Ryanair spokesman said the airline ‘tries to accommodate such reasonable rerouting requests using a guideline (only) of three-times the original airfare’. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

A Ryanair spokesman said the airline ‘tries to accommodate such reasonable rerouting requests using a guideline (only) of three-times the original airfare’. Photograph: John Stillwell/PA Wire

 

Ryanair has been accused of “plucking figures out of the air” over its insistence that passengers caught up in its widespread flight cancellations can only reroute on other airlines if the new tickets cost no more than three times the value of the original Ryanair fare.

The airline made no reference to any such price limitation in its widely publicised statements issued on Friday when it agreed to demands made by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to clarify passenger rights.

However, its customer service staff continued to impose the price restrictions over the weekend.

One passenger who contacted The Irish Times as he tried to rearrange flights to Madrid for this coming weekend, was told the airline could only “re-accommodate a flight for you with a different airline provided, that the cost of the ticket does not exceed three times the value of the original Ryanair fare for the sector cancelled. (For example: you have paid €50 for the cancelled sector on Ryanair we will re-accommodate on another airline on a ticket up to the value of €150),” the correspondence said.

Detailed commitments

Under pressure from the CAA, Ryanair issued a lengthy statement before the weekend in which it gave its most detailed commitments on how it is going to deal with passengers booked on flights that have been cancelled over the next six months because of a shortage of pilots.

In that statement it said that if no Ryanair re-routing alternative was available to affected passengers, staff had been told to “offer the customer re-accommodation on any one of our agreed disruption partner airlines to their destination as follows: easyJet, Jet2, Vueling, Cityjet, Aer Lingus, Norwegian or Eurowings airlines.”

If this option was not available on same or the next day, then customers were to be offered “re-accommodation on any comparable alternative transport (another airline flight, train, bus or car hire) with the cost of this comparable transport ticket to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

There was no reference to any price caps in the correspondence.

When the passenger pointed to the apparent discrepancy between what staff were saying over the weekend and what the airline had committed to, he was told by a Ryanair employee: “I am afraid this is our policy regarding this at the moment.”

Reasonable rerouting

Asked about the price limitation yesterday, a Ryanair spokesman said the airline “tries to accommodate such reasonable rerouting requests using a guideline (only) of three-times the original airfare”.

He claimed that its stance “compares favourably with easyJet’s stated policy, which limits the cost of ‘alternative transport’ to be within the price range you paid for your original return flight or as close as possible”.

When asked why its statement issued on Friday contained no references to any price limitation if passengers choose to re-route with another airline, the spokesman refused to answer.

The price limitation has been condemned by Britain’s consumer group Which?. Its managing director Alex Neill told The Irish Times that Ryanair “appears to be plucking figures out of thin air as there is no legal basis for the arbitrary figure they’ve set. The law says passengers must be rerouted and there’s no specified limit on cost.”

She repeated her call on the CAA to “force Ryanair to immediately change its behaviour” and comply with the regulations.