/ Travel & Leisure

Why pay Ryanair for forgetting our boarding cards?

Passengers boarding Ryanair flight

It’s Ryanair policy for passengers to print their own boarding passes, but if its forgotten they’ll be hit by £34 for it to be reissued at the airport. But should a boarding pass really be your responsibility in the first place?

Even as a seasoned traveller, preparing to head for the airport can be an anxious time. You’ve checked and double checked that you’ve got your passport, your insurance documents are all in order and your tickets are accounted for.

You arrive at the airport and follow the sign to departures. But wait a minute, you’ve forgotten your boarding pass and are now in the process of being charged to have one printed out!

But surely boarding passes are the responsibility of the airline? Not so for Ryanair passengers who are required to print their own – forget it and be prepared to pay.

Ryanair contests court ruling

Last week a Spanish court ruled that Ryanair’s 40 Euro (£34) charge for re-issuing a boarding pass was unlawful. But the low-budget airline isn’t taking this lying down, calling the ruling ‘bizarre and unlawful’.

The charge will stay at airports for the time being, but if the ruling is upheld on appeal then its removal could be enforced across Europe.

If that does happen, Ryanair says it’ll be forced to stop offering a boarding pass reissue facility at airports. Instead, passengers who haven’t printed one off won’t be allowed to pass through security, leaving them unable to board their flight. They’ll then need to make a new booking for the next available flight at the current fare.

Online check-in dilemma

Now, I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to flight tickets and boarding passes. In a perfect world, where there are no long queues at check-in, I like a good old cardboard ticket sent to me by the airline and a boarding pass handed to me when I drop off my suitcase.

I feel nervous when dealing with ‘e-tickets’, unsure as to whether I’ve printed off the right thing. This usually leaves me carrying a wad of flight-related correspondence on every holiday ‘just in case’.

Being given a ticket or boarding pass feels like part of the service, part of the holiday experience even. I also find it much more reassuring when the airline takes charge, leaving me with one less thing to worry about when planning my trip.

However, when faced with a game of ‘queue race’ (praying the queue I nearly joined doesn’t beat me to check-in) I spend part of the time wishing I had checked–in online, so I could just drop off my bag and head to departures.

One thing I’m sure of is that I like having the choice of whether to print off my own boarding pass or get it issued at the airport. I’m lucky enough to have a printer at home and I’m a bit computer savvy, but if you don’t meet these two criteria, it’s not always the easiest task.

Is it right that Ryanair requires you to print your own boarding pass and hits you with a charge if you fail to do so? Or is this just one big fuss – no one’s forcing you to fly with a particular airline after all.

Sophie Gilbert says:
24 January 2011

Ryanair follow this principle: make more money by:
1) relinquishing as many responsibilities as you can get away with;
2) passing these responsibilites on the customers;
3) confusing them as much as you can while you’re at it in order to maximise income (see 4);
4) penalise them financially if they dare to forget something by fining them or by causing them to have to purchase another flight.

The law should step in and say to them that if they have sold a flight to customers they can’t then decide to get them to pay extra or not let them on the plane for some spurious reason, just because the customers have forgotten to bring a comparatively unimportant piece of paper. That no-one is forcing anyone to fly with them should be irrelevant.

In many ways I agree with Ryanair

It has cut overheads to an absolute minimum to offer a very cheap air ticket – If you want a better service don’t use them

If you don’t follow their instructions – you pay a penalty – seems fair to me.

Penalties are unenforceable in English law, Ryanair or anyone else seeking to impose a penalty would have to show how the cost has been calculated. I had to pay 240 Euro for 4 sheets of A4 which took about 2 to 3 minutes to print. I had considered court action against them but they have more legal resource than I have.
I am disappointed that Which have not taken this up with them.

This is the letter I sent to Michael O’Leary
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 05-Jul-16 2:08 PM

Michael O’Leary
Gigginstown House,
County Westmeath

Dear Sir,

Three of us, Ted O’Hara aged 82, Joe Ruaune aged 85 and myself aged 76 have just returned from an eight night holiday in Torremolinos on most comfortable flights by Ryanair.
I booked online on 12th May and checked in online for the outbound trip for Joe and me. Ted is very fragile owing to terminal ill health so we asked him along. I checked him in also.

However, we were unable to check in for the return flight. Why, I did not understand.
Despite both my companions being disabled we arrived at Malaga airport for the return flight at 4. 30 am in order to make sure that we could obtain our boarding passes. We have no technology to enable us to obtain boarding passes in Spain. My phone is just a phone. It does not even have a camera inside. I use it to keep in touch with my family.
I am able, with a deal of difficulty to download and print boarding passes to take holidays and this has never been a problem in the past.

Because we did not have our boarding passes, I expected some difficulty. The information I had said that we may be charged a fee. I was sure that the circumstances would be understood.

We were told at the check in that we had to pay 135 Euros or we would not be allowed to board our flight that we had paid for. I asked if anybody could look at the problem and was told to go to the office. I went leaving my companions stunned as I was to enquire. After waiting in a queue of irate people I explained that we did not have enough money and was told that this was the rule and I had to pay. I went back to the check in, waited in the queue again to offer the money we had,130 Euros and was told that I had to pay at the office. I returned, feeling quite ill and very faint, waited again in the queue and was told that I should have obtained a ticket from the check-in desk. I had to explain that the check in staff had said that payment came first before anything else. I was now feeling very jittery and faint. I paid the 130 Euros we had and tipped out my purse on the counter to show that I had a few cents.
I then accepted the rest of the money from the kind people in the queue feeling sick and humiliated. I also wish you to know that the staff, who had to keep an official profile, were also upset. If this happens more than once a week they are being tormented by being told that no other airline does this to people. One hundred and thirty five Euros charge is robbery, nothing less and I will spare no effort to get this money back.
You ruined a lovely holiday for two men, one of whom needed attention whilst I was trying to plead for mercy and became ill and confused as a result.

On returning home and turning on my pc, I found an email from Ryanair telling me that I would have to pay 45 Euros per person if I did not check in online. Because my phone is unable to receive e mails, this was the first time I saw this amount in print. Had I been aware of this, I would not have booked Ryanair.
Our flight outbound was FR3008 and our inbound flight was FR 3233
Your policy is discriminatory against elderly people who do not possess state of the art technology. I witnessed people using smart phones to check in. I do not have one.
A five Euro charge each I would have resentfully paid, but 45 Euros. More than our emergency money that we had been guarding in order to change back into pounds.
I request a reply from you, a millionaire, who can do this to working people who responded to your slogan, Fly for Less. I demand my hard saved money back.
Yours sincerely,

Pat Ruaune

[Hello Pat, thank you for sharing your letter, we’ve had to make some small tweaks to align with our Community Guidelines and T&Cs. Thanks, mods]

Brilliant letter, Pat. Please do let us know how you get on. Best wishes to your travelling companions as well.

Outstanding letter, Pat. Our one and only trip on the Bandit airline convinced us never to use that mode of travel again, and we haven’t. Airline travel is stressful enough and the bald assumption that was made about your booking was nothing short of criminal, in my view. This absurd behaviour whereby some airlines (well, just one in fact) only produce tickets in downloadable form a day or two prior to the actual trip either way is barely legal, I suspect, but seems to be covered in the infinitesimally minute Ts and Cs. It’s high time Ryanair was brought back to Earth – one way or another.

Thank you for printing my complaint. I did get a response from Michael O’Leary in which he insists that “you simply need to use the same technology that you used to book your flights and checked in for your outbound flights” This was my desktop computer which I am using now.
The suggestion to use an internet café or an hotel to do the business of printing a boarding card for the inbound flight is ridiculous. I was a dual carer doing my best to ensure a lovely holiday for my husband and my friend.

Thank you for printing my complaint. Michael O’Leary did reply in order to tell me that I could use the same technology that I used to print out the outbound flight’s boarding card. Printing the inbound flight’s boarding card was not allowed. I am using my desktop computer and I have answered Michael O’Leary’s second response by asking him how I transport this equipment in a usable state abroad. I am a permanent carer for a disabled husband.

Hi John
, As above, I have received two replies signed by Michael O’Leary both in the same illogical mode. I have now started a petition to send to Amber Rudd asking that this control over people enabling fines to be levied OR YOU DO NOT FLY which is what we were told be made clearly illegal.

Ryanair is a legit con: it lures unaware customers who are unfamiliar with the canny ways of making money out of innocent people. It takes advantage of the fact that not all people read the tiny terms and conditions and slaps them with extortionate fees as penalties which can sum up several times the original advertised ticket price.

InspiredNinja14 says:
27 January 2011

£34! In this age of uber cheap flights, that is probably more than the flight cost!!

Roker says:
5 February 2011

They also charge you €40 if you do not book your luggage on line, and €20 per kilo over 15 kilo. Some longhall flight give you 30kilo luggage allowance, if you connect with Ryanair this would be €300 extra per person 1 way.

NeverAgain says:
11 April 2011

I can understand an admin charge for printing out a boarding pass, but why not let the passenger choose to print it out at an internet cafe (maybe one in the airport) and use this? But the sneaky airline prevents you from doing this. This should be illegal, as it is plain theft. Losing a piece of paper you are made to print out yourself is one thing. Not letting you print it out and charging you for this “service” is immoral.

I have just come back from holiday and had not printed my boarding pass(es) and got charged 60 euro for each pass (240 euro for my family of four) Ok I made a mistake but I thought penalties were illegal in British law and there is unfair contract terms law.
When stuck in a foreign airport with children they have you over a barrel and it only took less than 2 minutes to print them out.
60 Euro per person is disproportionate to any costs they may incur and I intend to pursue this by exhausting their complaints procedure and then going to the courts.
The costs of the boarding passes were indeed greater than the cost of the flights,scam res ipsa loquiter

Mark Costello says:
17 April 2012

Hi Martin just had the same experiance as you 60 Euros x 4 Ouch 16 April 2012 and are thinking along the same lines, would like some feed back from you if you dont mind as I am going to wright to Rayn.

simon says:
21 March 2012

Yep, I just paid 60 euros for a very exspensive piece of paper.. it felt like a speeding fine… not that I have had one of those touch wood.

I could accept paying say 20 euros for my error.. but 60 ruddy outrageous, but like others here have said, when they know you need to travel they have you over a barrell.

O LLLLLLLLeary ya swine

chris says:
14 April 2012

yep apparently they raised it to 60 euro

just had to pay it otherwise i would be stranded in a foreign country 🙁

!@#$%^&*() to O’Leary

jetlag2020 says:
16 June 2012

Funny how they seem to be getting a lot of people with this. Flew to Spain June 2nd and printed out all the boarding passes I was sent by Ryan air but on the way back no return boarding passes and was hit with the same charge, 60 euro each for me, my wife and 2 small children. We havn’t flown anywhere in 10 years as we normally go in our motor home and I’m afraid its gonna be another 10 years after our experience with “Con-air”.

Peter Gill says:
21 July 2012

My son and his girlfriend are touring in Portugal and due to fly back with Ryanair next week. I am monitoring his e-mail and have just been informed by Ryanair that they have changed the return flight time and my son must now reprint his boarding pass or risk being ‘fined’. It is proving difficult to contact my son, and if I do why should he have to find a computer and printer in a strange place to cover the airline’s decision to change the flight that my son had contracted with them. I have travelled all over the world on all sorts of airlines but never encountered one run as badly as Ryanair. I certainly will never use them and will do my best to discourage everybody I meet from using them.

Katrina Kay says:
14 August 2012

We have just returned from a brilliant week away in Spain . However today it has been spoilt by these robbing thieves of Ryanair. We printed the boarding tickets off for the outward bound flight but there was no link for the return. When we arrived in the airport today ,we were surprised to see a massive queue for the Ryanair customer service . When we started hearing people saying that they needed a boarding tickets ,we started to question and was told that it was company policy and that if hadnt got any then it was 60 euros each . When I said we hadnt got any money they said tough we would have to stay in Spain !!!!!!!!!! They didnt care about us or any of the other families that were abandoned !! We paid the fees and then we were told the luggage was over (even tho it was fine going out of Liverpool so we were stung for another 160 euros !!!!!!! After a sprint to get to boarding – we had to wait whilst they charged other people for hand luggage !!!!!!! Just a complete rip off !!!!! Never ever flighting with them again .

Yvonne says:
5 December 2012

What a horrendous experience flying with Ryanair. Our daughter was taken to hospital 4 days prior to our departure and was kept in till the evening before our flight. We weren’t going to travel (To Barcelona – a gift for my 40th birthday) but my family persuaded me to travel. We tried to print off the boarding passes on the morning of our flight but required the last 4 digits of the card used to book the flights (this wasn’t our card my parents had booked the flights) After some frantic phone calls we got the numbers but when we went to print the passes it was less than 4 hours to our flight. A fruitless call to their Indian call centre made no difference. Explaining the circumstances to handling staff at the airport who sent us on a wild goose chase made no difference….and to top it off on the way home they said my handbag had to be in our hangluggage….yet loads of other travellers clearly had more than one handluggage item, duty free bags apparently seem to be fine and are invisible to Ryanair staff. We have travelled with Ryanair many times but hell will freeze over before I travel with them again.

Jackie says:
31 December 2012

I have just returned from a very stressful holiday with my two boys for a short holiday in spain, now this was not my fault, the agency I had booked with had forgotten to given me or advised me that I need a return boarding pass when we are returning back to london, I got to the airport, and this unhelpful advisor told me if I do not have my boarding pass then there is nothing she or anyone could do and I had I had to pay 60euros each, now that was a total of 180euro now supposing I did not have that money on my visa debit card as I did not have anymore euros lefts, i prayed so hard that this amount was on my card, only by the grace of god that is was and we was then given an recipt to go and get this boading pass, but surely you should have still had me and my boys on there system to say we was returning back

Thanks for making me aware of this scam. I didn’t know any of this. It seems a lot of people are being tricked then forced into paying this extra charge. If a link to the return ticket to print is not on your email and it’s not made clear in the email you are sent, then I think you would have a case against them definitely. This is clearly profiteering from misleading customers and is totally unacceptable.

Printing a piece of paper is not an expensive exercise. You show up on their system.. you provide your identification, so what’s the problem? People should definitely put some pressure on them over this. No you don’t have to fly with them, but obviously many people can only afford to fly somewhere if it’s with a service as cheap as theirs. Regardless of any other arguments, this is misleading practice which shouldn’t be allowed, and threatening to strand people who have already paid for a flight, in a foreign country is an absolute outrage!

Thanks for sharing your stories, Ryan Air have just lost another potential customer!

Nicky says:
28 October 2013

Just taken our family on our first flight with Ryan Air to Rome, and had our lovely holiday spoiled by being mugged by the airline on the return flight because we didn’t have the boarding passes printed out. It cost us 280 Euros for the four of us!!! Looking back over the email trail I can see a reminder to print out the passes for the outward journey, but didn’t realise this wouldn’t cover the return until we were at the airport. The email reminder for the return journey was sent the day before, but of course I wasn’t checking my email while away. Thanks a lot Ryan Air, won’t be travelling with you again.

Nicky, that is dreadful treatment by Ryanair. Remember that until several years ago the airline had to do this at the airport, using several staff to check us all in and print our boarding passes. Now we have accepted responsibility for doing this – relieving the airline of the work – and if we fail to do do we are hit by a hefty fine. This needs to be addressed by consumer associations and our politicians. The same applies to correcting an error on a ticket. The ‘fee’ should reflect the amount of admin work involved in correcting a mistake.

WHICH? are you going to tackle the airlines unfair fines or fees?

Nicky, perhaps your MEP’s may interested as they are up for re-election next year and this is an EU wide problem. Try https://www.writetothem.com/ to connect to your MEP’s and your MP.

Yachts says:
26 February 2015

Had to reprint boarding passes today at Glasgow, left hem at home. However could not reprint outgoing flights as within two hours of departure. They have deliberately made reprinting difficult deliberately to exhort further funds from passengers, it is most unlikely that one would notice that they have forgotten their passes until this time and to be disbarred from correcting the situation is disgusting.

Duane says:
19 August 2015

I can identify with the comments on this webpage. I just had the experence of having to pay €90 to print boarding passes for my wife and I for a return trip from Fuerteventura to Stansted. We tried checking in online 2 days before the flight 3 times but kept getting error messages after completing all details and clicking check in.
When we got to the airport we explained to the agent. I showed him my internet browsing history and the error messages. Despite this we were forced to pay or miss the flight. He said we had to pay and complain to customer service after.
We made the complaint but were just sent a standard response from an email address you could not reply to. No mention was made of the browsing history and error message screenshots I attached to the complaint. It was obvious it was not even investigated.
These guys treat customers with disdain and are complete rip off artists. On the whole though, I believe airlines should be providing boarding passes. How can you pay for a ticket but can’t board the flight? What have you actually paid for, the option of boarding if you can print your own boarding pass?

Yes we fell afoul of ryanairs ridicules and unnecessary fine.
Ours were £70 each Oct 2014.
I had, or so I thought, printed out our passes. Online I got to the page Print Boarding Pass. I clicked on this & the page refreshed itself. O I’m there, so I thought, so printed that page. On arrival I was told This is Not a Boarding pass. Was told to go to comp’ desk & redo them. I had the same problem with their comp as mine, would not let me go any further. A kind Airport Information Lady saw our dilemma. She tried on her comp’. Now we ‘red just passed the 2 hour deadline, so it would not allow her to print. She did though print our returns. 9very helpful Lady)
The info from the Airport Info was they are having this problem ten times a day. The Airport is very annoyed with the Airlines that have this policy.
So come on Airport Bosses, get this sorted with ryanair & the likes.
This is pure Rip of Britain.
We have had 2 flights with BA in the last year & having another in Oct15, but going to pay just a little more & travel with a respectable airline, where they issue their tickets to me. (If I board a train or Bus in the UK I don’t have to print out a boarding pass, so why with an airline? It has nothing to do with security.
It’s a shame really as ryanair flies to a great number of places other airlines don’t. But, I never say never, I will not be using ryanair again unless I really have to with my arm pushed up my back & being chased by double glassing salesman.

In the end, I had two corespondents with ryanair telling them the situation, & showing them my pass I printed out, ok my mistake, but O dear they just do not care.
Good luck every one, try & keep smiling even if they try to ruin your holiday..

There is now an online lawsuit to get Ryanair fees refunded: https://casehub.com/cases/ryanair-class-action-passenger-fees/