/ Travel & Leisure

Update: Ryanair cancels Christmas for its winter fliers

Ryanair Cancellations

Merry O’Dreary Christmas! Ryanair’s latest batch of cancellations is set to affect another 400,000 passengers over the winter. Would an apologetic 40 euro voucher from Michael O’Leary be enough to put him back on your nice list?

Ryanair has announced the suspension of 34 routes between November and March, including some of its busiest flights between London and Edinburgh. In total, this brings the number of passengers affected by the Ryanair cancellations to three-quarters of a million.

After events last week, we don’t need to tell you that this situation is a complete shambles. As well as ruining the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of passengers, the offer of a 40 euro voucher from the airline will prove an empty gesture if Ryanair customers can’t book the flight they want. Some passengers will have been planning to travel over the festive period, so for them, Ryanair has effectively cancelled Christmas.

Our Christmas wish to Ryanair

Before today’s cancellations were announced, we wrote a letter to Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, condemning his handling of the situation before its most recent announcement. In it, our CEO, Peter Vicary-Smith, said:

‘Ryanair passengers have had their holiday plans ruined or have been left stranded abroad with little or no support. Many more Ryanair passengers will still be concerned about whether they will be able to travel over the coming weeks. On top of these issues, Which? has serious concerns about the way that these cancellations have been handled with people left out of pocket due to additional expenses and facing a difficult process to claim compensation. We now urge you to swiftly set out plans to correct the failings in your handling of the situation to date.’

Unfortunately, after today’s news, any fears Ryanair passengers may have had about future flight cancellations have been realised.

Flying high at the top of the naughty list

One such passenger is our colleague Yvette:

‘I booked a trip to Bucharest earlier this month, looking forward to seeing Christmas markets in a new city. Unfortunately, that was cancelled today despite it not being an affected route mentioned by Ryanair. I’m also lacking a voucher that Ryanair seems to be giving out to other customers.

‘I was already irritated by Ryanair’s first round of cancellations which affected another trip of mine (to Milan) and I’m annoyed to be affected again. I haven’t decided what to do about my trip – I’m not sure that it’s worth going at all with the new flight times on offer.

‘I’ll probably book my outbound flight with another airline but am nervous Ryanair could cancel my return journey. Luckily I haven’t paid for accommodation yet, so I won’t need to claim expenses.’

We’re sure there are unfortunately many more stories out there like Yvette’s. Have you had your Christmas plans shelved by Ryanair? Is Michael O’Leary on your naughty list?

Update: 28 September 2017

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced enforcement action against Ryanair for what it sees as persistent misleading of passengers with inaccurate information about their rights.

Earlier this week we wrote to the CAA calling for action after Ryanair said it would be cancelling 40 to 50 flights a day in September and October. The announcement of the CAA’s enforcement action followed news that Ryanair had cancelled flights for a further 400,000 people between November and March.

The CAA’s chief exec, Andrew Haines, had this to say on the action:

‘There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control.

‘We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers.’
We’re pleased the CAA is taking this enforcement action as Ryanair has continued to flout the law and fail to properly inform people of their rights.

We want to see assurances from the CAA that their intervention will force Ryanair to immediately change its behaviour and act in accordance with the law.

Update: 29 September 2017

The CAA’s deadline for Ryanair to issue a press release and clear statement at the top of its website with updates on the actual rights of passengers has now passed. These rights include:

  • A statement that Ryanair will reroute passenger on other airlines and how passengers can do this
  • If passengers accepted a refund and re-booked, Ryanair will reimburse any difference
  • If passengers have been re-routed Ryanair should offer to change to a different airline if misinformation was given when re-routing
  • And pay costs of transfers to alternative airports and provide meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation for all passengers while waiting for a re-route

Ryanair had also been asked to take steps to assist passengers who’ve made arrangements based on misleading information and recontact these passengers to provide them with this info.

While the airline’s response, which can be found on its website, may get close to complying with the regulations it still smacks of a reluctance to do right by its customers.

The complicated four-step rerouting policy leaves passengers facing a potential difficulty get to their destination when their flight is cancelled.

The CAA must watch Ryanair like a hawk. It will need to take firm action if the airline continues to fail hundreds of thousands of passengers caught up in this mess.

Are you hopeful Ryanair will commit fully to their legal obligations?

Update: 24 October 2017

We’ve already received so many stories from our community about their experience with Ryanair since it announced its first batch of cancellations.

As Ryanair was forced to change its passenger rights advice by the aviation regulator at the end of September, we want to know if the airline is now acting in the best interests of its passengers. We’re looking to gather evidence that Ryanair might not be meeting its obligations to its customers.

This is where we need you!

Have you had a flight cancelled by Ryanair? How do you feel you were treated by the airline? Did you feel you had all the information about your rights that you needed? Have you received your compensation?

If any of these questions apply to you, please spare a moment to complete our short survey. Your time will make a huge difference to our work.


I’ve only flown Ryanair twice and that was some time ago – no complaints from me then. However, this fiasco is going to be one huge bill for Ryanair. Their credibility is in tatters. Personally, I wouldn’t even consider flying Ryanair now. My sympathy to all those who have had their travel plans turned upside down. Ryanair need to get their act together and either fully and quickly compensate all those people they have so badly let down OR get them on flights with another airline who can take them on the dates they originally booked (Business Class if they are the only available seats).

Mike Towler says:
29 September 2017

To err is human. We all make mistakes, and Ryanair have made one good and proper. But they could — out of the current mess — earn that most valuable business asset, enormous goodwill. To do so would COST but by being highly generous to let-down customers would result in them wanting to book with Ryanair in future because regardless if things go wrong they KNOW that they will be looked after — made to feel like a valued customer.
I write from experience, nothing to do with travel. I bought a product which failed and could have been highly dangerous. The manufacturer asked sensible questions, gave me a full, honest explanation of what had gone wrong, and provided me with a replacement, also a second — different pattern — equivalent and basically bent over backwards to ‘look after’ me. Ever since I have had total confidence in any product bearing that manufacturer’s name. If something is not as it should be, I’m confident that they will put it right and guard their reputation.

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This a repeat of their appalling behaviour at the time of the Icelandic ash cloud 7 years ago. I was one of those caught out and left abandoned then. I have not flown with dieinair since and nor will I.

It’s no way to run a business! I just booked some accommodation in Lanzarote before this fiasco kicked off. I contacted Ryanair to find out if it would be OK to book my flights, thinking I’d get a straight answer. Sadly I was wrong – I was told that only 1% of flights were being cancelled so it should be OK to book… really??? I paid an extra £100 and booked with Jet2 instead – the extra money is worth it for the peace of mind.

O’Leary should lose his Operator’s Licence and be forced to sell Ryanair to someone who can run the airline properly….

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Ryanair should not be allowed to advertise as TV advert is misleading in the present circumstances

B.seaton says:
29 September 2017

Would not trust this guy as far as I could spit. He should resign immediately

Whatever the inconvenience & chaos the company has caused to others, it pales in comparison to the damage the company has inflicted on itself, due to poor strategy. A financial loss in the present, to facilitate customer relations, would have been wiser than the cost cutting initiative, which has damaged the confidence of all their customers.

My main consideration in all of this is that the concept of Consequential Loss should be tested in the Courts. You have a contract sealed by acceptance through payment for the service. Breach of Contract, which in all cases is what this is, must consider consequential loss to the plaintiff and Ryanair should be forced to defend this position in Court through Class Action.

Boycott the Airline and use another. They have a bad track record and constantly let passengers down and yet people keep booking with Ryanair. The public are stupid.

Public stupid ? anyone who has to deal with the public in any way knows that many are ignorant as well A thing you quickly learn when dealing with them

I remember years ago there was a guy called Freddie Laker, he challenged the big boys with a great budget airline, he treated his staff well and was well liked and respected by staff and passengers. I’m not saying things didn’t go wrong occasionally, but he knew how to put things right, maybe Rip off O’Leary could go and look back in history. Sadly Sir Freddie was such a threat to the big boys that British Airways forced him out of business, but made way for the likes of Stelios (good budget airline) and O’Leary (bad budget airline), I feel that until this gets sorted the government must act and put people in place to take over RyanAir and make sure things are done correctly, no matter what the cost to the airline.

Whilst people continue to patronise RyanAir they will stay in business. If they are seen as so bad by the majority, people will vote with their feet. No need for the government to do more than see consumers’ legal rights are enforced. The rest is up to potential passengers.

The Civil Aviation Authority is taking enforcement action against Ryanair under Section 214 of the Enterprise Act 2002 for misleading passengers on cancelled flights about their rights under Article 8(1) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 to be rerouted on a rival airline at Ryanair’s expense.

Regulation 5(4)(k) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 prohibits misleading a consumer about “the consumer’s rights or the risks he may face“. This is an offence under Regulation 9, punishable under Regulation 13 by a fine and/or up to two years’ imprisonment. Can we look forward to O’Leary being given a prison sentence in view of Ryanair misleading passengers before enforcement action was taken?

Ryanair should be given no degree of impunity whatsoever for any violation of Aviation Law.

It appears that Ryanair, notwithstanding the indignation of the CAA, is going to continue to ignore those rules and regulations it wishes. Who knows what other rules and regulations it might decide not to adhere to and with what consequences.

Ryanair refused to compensate the ticket fare difference for those how bought tickets more than two weeks in advance saying that this is not covered by European law which is unfair

Ryanair is the most basic of airlines. They think that cheapest flight prices absolves them of any standard of service. I used to use them in the 90’s and quite admired Michael O’Leary in what he had done to put the airline on the map. However, today I would NOT ever fly Ryanair, I think O’Leary comes across as a slippery leprechaun and could not be trusted an inch. I hope this holidays for crew debacle teaches O’Leary a hard lesson and he learns to put customers first. By the way he insists that he only treats customers like dirt because Ryanair offer the cheapest prices. You can fly to most of their destinations on other carriers at competitive rates.


For anyone who has been affected by the cancellations please feel free to have a look at our consumer rights guide.


Lots of advise on how to claim refunds and compensation.

Hope this helps 🙂

I booked through an agent for a short trip to Xmas markets in Hamburg. I purchased all the extras ie: hold luggage, seats, priority boarding and fastrack for outbound and inbound flights at a total of £91.88. Our inbound flight was cancelled and our travel agent rebooked us on an easy jet flight with no extra cost. Ryanair automatically refunded a payment of £14.22??? I have been trying to get the balance of £77.66 refunded from Ryanair for the extras I paid for so that I can rebook the extras on our return Easy jet flight, they are completely ignoring us, I have tried to use their claim form on their site but it will not let me upload the required receipts. Can you please advise as our trip is in November and I need the refund.

Malcolm G Sargent says:
3 October 2017

It should be arranged that it would be possible to prosecute the Directors of companies that treat the public so abominably, like this.

Companies can legally treat customers how they like. There will be retribution if they act illegally. However, their shareholders can take action, as can their prospective, but offended, customers by not giving them their business. It depends upon how strongly enough consumers feel and whether they put up with the downside to gain, in this case, cheap flights (if they have any pilots).