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‘Be a nicer airline’: Pressure grows on Ryanair to refund passengers hit by £115 name-change penalty

Pressure is growing on Ryanair to refund passengers hit by a name-change penalty glitch – with a renowned consumer champion complaining directly to the airline and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Around 160 furious Ryanair passengers travelling with partners or friends have been slapped with £115 fees after their companions’ surnames were automatically changed to incorrect versions – even though the correct details were entered at the time of booking.

So far, the no-frills airline has refused to refund the passengers affected by the glitch, and now money expert Martin Lewis has appealed directly to Ryanair to be a ‘nicer airline’ and ensure those affected are ‘not left out of pocket’.

Pressure is growing on Ryanair to refund passengers hit by a name-change penalty glitch – with renowned consumer champion Martin Lewis complaining directly to the airline

The glitch appeared to occur when passengers were booking flights for a second person (or more) with different surnames, for example their partner, or for a group of friends.

These customers consistently claim Ryanair’s booking system automatically changed their companions’ surnames to be the same as the lead passenger’s or account holder’s surname.

Those who didn’t spot the error within Ryanair’s 24-hour grace period for free name changes have been left facing a £115 charge to change it to the correct name.

Money saving expert Martin Lewis, pictured, who has appealed directly to Ryanair to be a 'nicer airline'

Money saving expert Martin Lewis, pictured, who has appealed directly to Ryanair to be a ‘nicer airline’

In a letter to Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, the founder of MoneySavingExpert.com wrote: ‘I know you have over the last few years stated you want to make Ryanair “a nicer airline”. I hope you are able to deliver on that promise in this case.

‘Sadly my personal letter to you is our last resort. We have been raising this issue with your press team since December. Yet the engagement and response we’ve had has been flaccid.

‘There is a seemingly blasé attitude to customers who feel hard done by. Therefore we have also today submitted a dossier of compelling evidence of over 160 complaints to the Civil Aviation Authority.

‘These customers tell us they have been penalised for incorrect surnames on their bookings, despite them having correctly entered these details at the time of booking.

‘This error repeatedly seems to not be the fault of the customer, yet Ryanair has been charging those affected £115 to rectify what seems to be its own mistake.

‘The behaviour of your firm, in refusing to refund customers who have been affected or saying they can’t travel, does not seem to be the behaviour of a “nice airline”.

‘I am sure you will be shocked to hear this has happened – and will want to rectify it – rather than waiting for regulatory engagement.’

So far, the no-frills airline has refused to refund passengers affected by the name-change glitch

So far, the no-frills airline has refused to refund passengers affected by the name-change glitch

Mr Lewis also claimed in the letter that some customers who were facing the fee due to the technical glitch actually rebooked their flights as it was cheaper than paying the charge.

He added: ‘We hope you will find out what led to the problem, prevent it reoccurring, and ensure those impacted are not left out of pocket.

‘If you feel our evidence is wrong, and there is no technical problem, then we would welcome a detailed explanation of why this has happened on such a huge scale.’

Meanwhile in a separate letter to the Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Lewis said he believed it was time for ‘regulatory intervention to protect customers’.

He wrote: ‘We have had more than 160 Ryanair customers to date saying they have encountered the problem, who are willing to be included in a dossier, which is enclosed for your attention.

‘Given the repeated and widespread nature of these errors, and Ryanair’s clear unwillingness to engage with the issue, we believe it is time for regulatory intervention to protect customers.

‘Ryanair must be compelled to find out what the problem is, prevent it from reoccurring and ensure those impacted are not left out of pocket.’

Last week, Ryanair quietly raised its fees for priority boarding and luggage. Pictured is a table on the Ryanair website, which shows the new fees

Last week, Ryanair quietly raised its fees for priority boarding and luggage. Pictured is a table on the Ryanair website, which shows the new fees

The letters come just days after the Dublin-based airline quietly raised its fees for priority boarding and luggage just months after introducing a brand new baggage policy.

Rules brought in on November 1 stipulated that passengers could no longer put small suitcases in the hold for free and would have to pay for any bag that doesn’t fit under the seat in front.

Passengers could pay between £6 and £8 for priority boarding, which meant they could take a second bigger bag into the cabin, or pay between £8 and £10 to check-in a bag up to 10kg, or £25 for a bag bigger than that.

However, it has now emerged that if passengers want to check in a bag up to 10kg, prices have gone up to between £10 and £12.

Similarly the top end price for priority boarding has increased from £8 to £10.

MailOnline Travel has contacted Ryanair for comment.  

MARTIN LEWIS’S LETTER IN FULL TO RYANAIR ON SURNAME GLITCH

Dear Mr O’Leary,

I am writing to alert you personally about what seems to be an important and serious consumer rights abuse by your airline. I know you have over the last few years stated you want to make Ryanair “a nicer airline”. I hope you are able to deliver on that promise in this case.

Sadly my personal letter to you is our last resort. We have been raising this issue with your press team since December. Yet the engagement and response we’ve had has been flaccid. There is a seemingly blasé attitude to customers who feel hard done by. Therefore we have also today submitted a dossier of compelling evidence of over 160 complaints to the Civil Aviation Authority.

These customers tell us they have been penalised for incorrect surnames on their bookings, despite them having correctly entered these details at the time of booking. This error repeatedly seems to not be the fault of the customer, yet Ryanair has been charging those affected £115 to rectify what seems to be its own mistake.

The behaviour of your firm, in refusing to refund customers who have been affected or saying they can’t travel, does not seem to be the behaviour of a “nice airline”. I am sure you will be shocked to hear this has happened – and will want to rectify it – rather than waiting for regulatory engagement.

From the evidence MSE has collected, a clear pattern has emerged, likely indicating a systemic error:

  • Passengers were booking flights for a second person (or more) with different surnames, for example their partner, or for a group of friends.
  • These customers consistently claim Ryanair’s booking system automatically changed their companions’ surnames to be the same as the lead passenger’s or account holder’s surname.
  • Those who didn’t spot the error within Ryanair’s 24-hour grace period for free name changes have been left facing a £115 charge to change it to the correct name – many have already paid it.
  • Some customers have had to rebook their flights entirely as this was cheaper than paying the charge.

We hope you will find out what led to the problem, prevent it reoccurring, and ensure those impacted are not left out of pocket. If you feel our evidence is wrong, and there is no technical problem, then we would welcome a detailed explanation of why this has happened on such a huge scale.

I look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

Martin Lewis, Founder & Chair, MoneySavingExpert.com

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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