/ 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.

Martin says:
6 September 2015

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.

Pat ruaune says:
7 July 2016

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.

Pat Ruaune says:
5 August 2016

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.