/ Travel & Leisure

Was it fair for Ryanair to charge me extra?

Man surprised by credit card bill

Now holidays are generally relaxing affairs. But after a week with friends in sunny Spain earlier this year, I had a surprise when I opened up my credit card bill to find I’d been stung with an extra charge from Ryanair.

I had consciously paid off the bill before heading on holiday to ensure I was in the clear on my return. So when I returned to the UK, I was somewhat surprised to see an unaccounted for £1.49 charge on my statement.

As I analysed my statement closer, I saw the charge related to London Stanstead, the airport I flew from, and Ryanair, the airline I flew with. But something was wrong. The date was almost a month after I had flown out to Malaga, Spain.

Spanish airport departure tax increase

At first I thought someone had used my card details, so I called my provider to dispute the payment. My card provider said that my call was not the first they’d received on this issue. And it didn’t take me long to find many passengers in a similar situation on a variety of online forums.

The charge related to an increase in Spanish airport departure tax which came into force at the beginning of July. The tax increase resulted in an extra 30p to £7.20 per person, depending on the Spanish airport you were flying from.

While many airlines absorbed the cost of the tax increase, Ryanair passed it on to its passengers even if you had booked and paid for your flights before 1 July 2012 and departed from a Spanish airport after that date.

When we asked Ryanair to explain the reason for the increase the company said: ‘Ryanair is obliged to collect taxes and charges and pass them to the Spanish Government on behalf of passengers’.

Ambiguous terms and conditions

Now the airline’s terms and conditions stated it is able to do that. Clause 4.2.2 reads:

‘Taxes, fees and charges imposed on air travel are constantly changing and can be imposed after the date that your reservation has been made. If any such tax, fee or charge is introduced or increased after your reservation has been made you will be obliged to pay it (or any increase) prior to departure.’

The second sentence seemed ambiguous. I wrote to Ryanair quoting clause 4.2.2 stating that I believed I should not have to pay as I had been charged after departure. The following week I received a response saying that, upon reviewing my booking, the increased tax was applied to my reservation ‘in error’ and I was duly refunded £1.49.

While the amount of money initially taken from my account was small, if I had paid for a family flying from an airport incurring the highest charges that sum would have been significant.

Ryanair’s T&Cs also state: ‘If any such tax, fee or charge is abolished or reduced such that it no longer applies to you, or a lesser amount is due, you will be entitled to claim a refund of the difference from us.’ Have you ever received a refund for such a fee from Ryanair or any other airline, or have you been charged extra after returning home?

Is it fair for airlines to charge extra after you've paid for your flight?

No - that's not right (80%, 355 Votes)

Maybe - it depends on what the charge's for (18%, 80 Votes)

Yes - if they have to (2%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 443

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It annoys me that card issuers absorb the loss on small disputed amounts. I have recently disputed two small charges from Ryanair with separate card issuers, and both absorbed the loss. Ryanair knows that it can easily add extra charges with impunity because either the card holder or the card issuer will take the hit. I disputed the amounts not so much to help my own pocket, but as a point of principle that Ryanair should not wrongfully receive additional revenue. The card issuers let them get away with it.

Michael O’Leary is the casino banker of the skies,he thinks he’s untouchable,get’s away with Blue(and Yellow) murder,constantly displays his arrogance and contempt to the regulators and his own industry,and screws customers for every penny he can get out of them.
He thinks he can walk on water,is the Messiah of low cost flights,(it was Stellios with Easyjet who was the real inspiration) and can challenge conventions with impunity.
Ryanair should be fined heavily for their regular questionable practises and need to be somehow kept on a leash.If the CAA or IATA need more powers to grow bigger teeth so be it.
O’Leary’s only redeeming feature is that he loves his jump racing,not even he is beyond redemption!

I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. RyanAir are well known for these kind of tricks, surely if you book a flight with them, you place your finances in Mr O’Leary’s greedy little hands.

I for one would never book a flight with them. If enough people did the same, chances are he might changes his business practices, but I doubt it.

There would appear to be a misinterpretation of the tax rules in that the tax is imposed on the airline in relation to the number of its passengers not directly on each passenger in person; it is the airline that is obliged to pay the tax. The taxation body is not concerned about where the money comes from only that it receives the tax due from the airline. Therefore the airline is not legally required to impose the tax on any one passenger as such it is only in its own intrestests that it has to pay its own liabilities to remain solvent and in business.

I’n sure RyanAir would charge you for making a charge to your tickets, no idea what silly LARGE amount it is, but can’t you charge them a similar admin fee, for dealing with this change I mean additional charge.

Just a athought.

Sara says:
5 October 2012

I’m with william – if you don’t like Ryanair’s practices with charges don’t book & fly with them. I wouldn’t purely for the very things that everyone seems to complain about them. They’d soon change their ways if everyone stopped flying with them.
I’m sorry to say it but to an extent you only have yourself to blame if you are surprised and upset that Ryanair (or any other so called ‘low cost’ airline) imposes additional charges left right & centre – it’s not like no one knows about these practices!

I am amazed that people continue to use Ryanair and even more amazed that anyone should be surprised at what they get up to. Clearly, their owner has no regard for his customers and, as such, the only sensible choice is not to give them your custom in the first place. If it is a choice between Ryanair or don’t go, I don’t go. I refuse to give my money to a company with such contemptible attitudes. In comparison, Easyjet is a paragon of virtue!

Avocet says:
11 October 2012

To say ‘If you don’t like Ryanair’s practices with charges don’t book & fly with them’ is just not going to happen enmass. But, if someone were to organise a boycott of all Ryan Air flights for say a 12 or 24 hour period unless they started to treat their customers more fairly a significant number of customers would be more likely to take action and this would surely have more chance of success.

DavidUK says:
23 October 2012

People who book with Ryanair and put money in O’Leary’s pockets deserve what they get. Why not boycott the airline and send a message to O’Leary…. It’s not just about putting bums on seats. It’s about being ethical and providing passengers with a reasonable level of service. After an aborted landing, arguments at the gate concerning luggage restrictons, long drives from remote airports, rip off charges.and the fact that they had to call three mayday emergencies because of low fuel on the same day, I’ve had enough of the World’s Nastiest Airline.

Raymondo says:
26 October 2012

This is very loosely connected with the comments.Recently booked a holiday with Travel Republic,paid £400 deposit only to be e-mailed that the hotel was booked up .Icould get my deposit back on hotel but not the flight or transfer as it was not a package.This left us tied to Travel Republic having to find another hotel.Surely they should secure your booking before asking for a deposit.Just wondered if anybody had similar problem.