I'm taking Ryanair through the small claims court
in Coronavirus travel help & info
109 replies 6.3K views
Posting this in case any MSE Forum members also find themselves in Court action with Ryanair.
My case was due to be heard in Manchester County Court today, but a Court !!!!!!-up meant that it wasn't. I now have to wait for a new date. Anyway....
In June 2020 I booked flights for 4 to Tenerife (to fly on Dec 23 2020), at a cost of £2,700. The days leading up to the flight was the time when other countries were intoducing rules prohibiting UK nationals from entering.
On 22 December I noted the following statement on Ryanair's website - "Flights To/From UK 20th-24th Dec”, that “For any flights to/from the UK in the coming days (Dec 20th to 24th) which are banned by EU Govts regulation, all affected customers will receive an email notification and they will be offered practical alternatives including free moves, re-routing or a refund if they so wish.”
On 22 December Spain (and therefore Tenerife) joined the list of countries banning UK nationals from entering. I duly received an email from Ryanair advising me that we would not be allowed to board the flight. Needless to say, we did not travel to the airport.
Ryanair have refused a refund. They merely offered a one-off flight change, to be effected by 31 March 2021. For numerous valid reasons this was not acceptable, not least because any shortfall in the value of the re-arranged flights (compared to the original flights) would be lost.
I initiated a claim via the small claims court, which Ryanair are defending, using a London based firm of solicitors. They have filed a defence, and a witness statement, and they had a senior barrister arrive at the Manchester Court for the aborted hearing today. So they are full guns blazing. I'm representing myself, as legal fees would not be recoverable.
Ryanair's defence is based around their Ts&Cs, which do not specify that a refund should be given in these circumstances. They did not cancel the flight, as it still took place, albeit with only five Spanish nationals as passengers. They also argue that the 'Preventing boarding' provisions don't apply because we didn't present at check-in (why would you, when you've been told you won't be able to board??).
Of course I'm hoping that common sense and justice will prevail. I've paid £2,700 to Ryanair (which means a very significant profit for them), and had nothing in return. I'll put up an update to this post in due course, but wondering if any other forum members have had similar experience, or have any tips.
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might also be worth seeing if there is any update to this - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-launches-action-against-british-airways-and-ryanair-over-refunds
Ryanair has posted the following advice on its website:
“For any flights to/from the UK in the coming days (Dec 20th to 24th) which are banned by EU Govts regulation, all affected customers will receive an email notification and they will be offered practical alternatives including free moves (no change fee applies) or refunds if they so wish.
“In the case of all other flights to/from the UK which are permitted to fly, Ryanair will operate these flights to facilitate all passengers who need to travel for business reasons, and are booked on them or wish to move to these flights.
If any such passengers (booked on operating flights) do not wish to travel during the next 5 days prior to Christmas, then Ryanair will facilitate a free move of their booking (no change fee applies) to any date up to 15th Mar.”
The case hinges on the question of whether an airline should be made to refund passengers who can't travel due to Government regulations outside of the airline's or passenger's control.
Whilst the Spanish Government's actions weren't your fault, they weren't the airline's either, so with a non-refundable ticket Ryanair have followed their T& C's.
It would usually be a travel insurance claim, but in the middle of the pandemic many policies did not cover this.
It's been a much debated scenario and the CMA have made a lot of noise themselves although they don't seem to have the enforcement powers to back up their viewpoint.
To my knowledge I've not heard of any rulings/judgements anywhere that force an airline to refund in this case. I'd speculate that if airline's had been forced I to refunds the last 18 months then we might have less airlines left now than we have energy suppliers.
It will be very interesting to follow the outcome of the case.
Ultimately if Spain said you can't enter, that's not Ryanair's fault - so while £2,700 is a lot to lose, the airline aren't responsible for taking the hit either.
Sorry, but while I'm not the biggest Ryanair fan I think you'll come away without your money.