May 26, 2003
Why I will never fly RyanAir (and why you shouldn't either)

I was planning to go to Ireland for the weekend, but got to experience how bad things can go when unfortunate circumstances coincide...

Early afternoon on Friday, I checked the website of Stansted Express, the express trains that are (meant to be) running every 15 minutes or so from London Liverpool Street Station to Stansted Airport, taking 45 minutes. There were no apparent issues with the afternoon's services. My Ryanair flight was scheduled for departure 16.45, and my email with the itinerary stated that check-ins would close 40 minutes before take-off. Keeping this in mind, I left the office early so that I would have at least 20 minutes extra before the checkin closed.

Arriving at Liverpool Station in time for the 15.00 train, I found that Stansted Express services were offline all weekend, and a combination of local train and airport coaches were in place instead. The athmosphere grew increasingly tense in the coach as people realized that we'd be arriving 30 minutes later than had we taken the trains, and by the time we arrived, my check-in had been closed for at least 5 minutes. I walked to the desk (which was still manned) and asked very politely for an exception to the rule of late check-in denial, citing the train-troubles and hinting at the fact that many others would be in the same situation this Friday.

I was brusquely referred to the ticket counter with the message that the only option for me would be to purchase a new ticket. Running over, hoping to sort something out for the flight that had still not taken off, I was told by the (rude) ticket agent that the next available flight seat to Dublin was Sunday night (48 hours later) and that there war nothing more they could do.

I don't know if Ryanair agents have incentives to try to sell as many new tickets as possible to late passengers; they certainly have no incentives to provide customer service. I have been late for loads of flights in the past with a number of airlines (including stingy KLM, BA, Scandinavian and others) and have always been granted an exception, up to some 17 minutes before take-off (my personal "best"/"worst")...

So, after having wasted 120 pounds on lining Michael O'Leary's pockets, I went back to London, and all I'm left with is this experience I would like to share with you: DO NOT FLY RYAN AIR...

(oh, and don't rely on American Express' travel insurance either - of course they didn't cover this situation... stingy b@stards have never paid out on any claim I've put forward)

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Comments

I am suprised u didn't explode in anger. I would have. Have been in similar situation in Denmark with SAS going to France.

Posted by: Christian on May 27, 2003 12:34 AM

Hmm... sad story. My record was on a Scandinavian flight from Trondheim to Oslo. I arrived at the airport 10 minutes before departure, without a ticket. 5 minutes later I was sitting in my seat, having bought a ticket AND gone through security.

Posted by: Lars on May 27, 2003 12:40 AM

Christian: I was well annoyed, but I knew there wasn't anything I could do to budge the RyanAir reps (so I took it out on the Stansted Express station manager who gave me a free ticket back to London, at least that's something....)

Lars: my record is 17 min for international flights (out of Nice), less (but not as good/bad as you) for national flights.. :-)

Posted by: Anders on May 27, 2003 11:15 AM

Scandinavian and others) and have always been granted an exception, up to some 17 minutes before take-off (my personal "best"/"worst")...

I arrived at departure time and still catched a SAS flight from Charles De Gaulle to Copenhagen once. The check-in staff looked concerned when I came running, called up to the gate and checked that they haven't left yet and then told me to bring my suitcase and give it to someone there so it would get on the plane. "Hurry. Run. Don't be slow." they said. At the gate they were waiting for me and closed the door just about the second I was in.


- ask

Posted by: Ask Bjoern Hansen on May 27, 2003 09:55 PM

It seems to me like the people you should really complain to are those who designed the Stansted Express website - Clearly the mention of engineering works over the Spring Bank Holiday simply wasn't prominent enough (or you would have seen it).

For what it's worth, I also routinely allow a least an hour before check-in.

Posted by: LSF on May 27, 2003 10:50 PM

My record... less than 1 minute on Southwest Airlines. Of course, this was in California in the USA.

I locked my keys (and everything but my wallet) in the house, walked to the closest payphone, called a friend collect (around 5am), he came over, drove me to the airport.

Fortunatly I had a "e-ticket" and they just asked for my ID and off I ran down the jetway to a closing door :)

Got in and buckled up and away we went.

Of course, this was a 1999, so it was pre 9/11.

Posted by: R. Moose on May 27, 2003 11:22 PM

What did I tell you, in this very weblog, when you first moved to London? DON'T TRUST THE TRANSPORT! (and buy a bike) (Don't you just *hate* 'told-you-so' kind of guys?)

Posted by: Rich on May 28, 2003 03:20 PM

While I'm sorry you missed your flight, Ryanair are very clear on their policies. They have a short turn around time and they don't make any secret of the 40 minute cut-off. It is up to you to make sure you leave lots of time for unforseen circumstances. Where should Ryanair draw the line? If you drive there and are delayed by traffic? If you are robbed on the way to the airport and have to report it to the police? Good travel insurance would compensate you for all of these -- mine covers me for train delays and many other things.

Posted by: Friedel on May 28, 2003 06:45 PM

Ummm...on the Ryanair site for the last however many months it has had a note about the Stanstead Express over weekends. And you have two hours to check-in - why would you plan to arrive only 20 minutes before check-in closes when you have a whole two hours before the flight leaves?

Posted by: Kat on May 28, 2003 06:55 PM

Fridel: I'd be interested in information about your insurance (if it's available for UK or French residents), as my American Express-based insurance didn't cover the incident.

Kat: "why would you plan to arrive only 20 minutes before check-in closes when you have a whole two hours before the flight leaves?" Because I work and also because I don't like waiting around on airports, especially ones with no business lounge?

I clearly learnt my lesson: RyanAir gives you what they promise, and since their promises are next to nothing, I will not fly with them again. Simple enough, I'd think... For 20-30 pounds more I could have gotten an Economy ticket with Aer Lingus, and oh you bet I will fly them (or BMI) next time.

Posted by: Anders on May 28, 2003 07:27 PM

What, exactly, is your whinge here? Ryanair states very clearly that they are a point to point carrier, and when the check in desks close. If you fail to abide by this, for whatever reason, you have no recompense with the airline.

Perhaps the moral of this story is to, shock, horror, allow a little more time to check in. Hold ups happen. Trains stop. Little old ladies walk very slowly in front of you.

Stansted is actually a decent airport to spend some time in, if you'd to remove your nose from your backside and look around you.

Your loss, I fear, not Ryanairs.

As for the travel insurance, most insurance provided by ccs only kicks in if you actually book the ticket with said card, not just because you carry one.

Posted by: cath on May 28, 2003 08:20 PM

I know that feeling.
I was going from New York to Copenhagen, and was at the check-in 55 min. before takeoff.It said on a sign that we had to be there 60 min. before take off, but due to traffic I was delayed.
Anyways, the KLM staff refused me and 8 others to check in, even tho the flight was still there.
I had to purchase a new ticket, and couldnt leave before the next day. I was broke, and was very happy that I actually had a credit card!
When I got back home, I sent a complain to KLM.It took me not less(..) then 3 months to get my money back for the second ticket.

Posted by: Marie on May 29, 2003 12:40 PM

Lars,

May be worthwhile checking out an episode of "Airline" on ITV1. It follows easyJet and almost every episode features an angry customer who has turned up 1, 2 or 30 minutes late for their flight.

Unfortunately it's one of the "features" of European low cost airlines. If you want a bit of flexibility and customer care you'd be best to follow your own suggestion and fly bmi or another mainstream airline.

Better luck in the future.

Nick

Posted by: Nick on May 29, 2003 06:32 PM

I had an interesting experience with air Iberia. I was forty-five minutes early to a flight in Ibiza, and I decided to take a nap in front of the gate. Three hours later, I woke up. I was nervous that I would never get off the island, but their customer service was outstanding. The ladies at the counter understood my situation, and re-routed my flight to still arrive at my destination before the end of the day.

Posted by: Simeon on May 30, 2003 05:56 PM

Anders, I have an annual multi-trip policy with Norwich Union (http://www.norwichunion.co.uk) for myself and my boyfriend. For the two of us it cost about £100 and covers medical as well as other situations such as delays getting to the airport and any missed flights that result. It covers us to travel around the world but if you just want a European policy it would be less.

Posted by: Friedel on May 31, 2003 07:14 PM

far too little time allowed to travel, only one person's fault, and its YOURS!

Posted by: jim on June 1, 2003 11:05 AM

I totally agree with you. Ryanair are the worst airline in the world ; they have no concept of customer service, their staff are all (to a man) rude and hostile, their CEO is a complete prat, and they operate from some of the worst and unreachable airports in the world (Stansted, Charlesroi, Hahn anyone?). It's a joke to call Hahn airport Frankfurt....it's nowhere near, it's like calling Manchester near London.
Also, BA now do excellent cheap fares which are in fact sometimes cheaper than Ryanair and they go to the main airports which have got good transport links.

Posted by: Ron on August 9, 2003 11:44 PM

Grrrrr....yes, the same thing just happened to me today. My first and last time flying Ryanair.

Posted by: Court on November 24, 2003 11:33 PM

October 8 2004 - RYANAIR rips off its customers.
First London Tubes, both central and Hammersmith & City lines were delayed. Then the Stansted Express had 45 minutes delay. We (about 20 people on the same train) arrived 40 minutes before the Ryanair flight to Bologna, and all 20 of us (none of whom had luggage to check) were told that it was too late, and that we should pay £40 and rebook for the following day. This is clearly part of the business plan to make money. (How else do you subsidize the cheap flights). The policy might make sense against an individual traveller but when you have 20% of the flight passengers on the same train, and then to have a rude 23 year old manager refuse to make an exception in light of the curcumstances and number of passengers is terrible customer relations. It takes 15 minutes max to reach the gate. Easyjet allows arrival 30 minutes prior to departure. Ryanair will close the check in even earlier than 40 minutes, when they know that a train is arriving late. The only advice, is to avoid Ryanair, and even moreso, avoid the UK rail system.

Posted by: roland on October 10, 2004 11:38 PM

I had a horrible time with RyanAir as well! I am an American student who was planning to travel to Scotland for this is my last weekend in the UK. I went to the airport with three forms of identification and also with the credit card from which I purchased the ticket. However, when I went to the desk to get my computer, they said my ID was not valid and I needed a passport. Now being that I was in Wales last weekend( and did not need my passport), had three forms of ID, AND the credit card which purchased the ticket, do you think they could make ONE exception! NO! From what I remember, Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland, and England make up the UK, so why the hell do I need a passport??!?! So I rushed over to the ticket booth to try to reschedule for a later flight and was told there was nothing available until 6:40AM Friday morning AND I would have to pay £40! Keeping in mind that my tour is to begin at 8:15AM tomorrow, Thank you RyanAir for ruining my last weekend here in the UK! A once in a lifetime experience with 14 of my good friends ruined all because they could not accept 3 forms of ID AND the mastercard!!!!! THANKS A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT!!!! I will be sure and advise future international students to NEVER fly RyanAir!

Posted by: John on December 9, 2004 10:17 PM

While I know the frustration of missing a flight, as a frequent traveler myself (and I have the impression that you are as well), I am left to wonder why you blame the airline when you are the one who left no time for error in your schedule? Since you blame Ryanair and fail to recognize your mistake, it tells me that you have a greater likelihood of similar experiences than those of us who would have planned to arrive an hour before the cutoff.

Posted by: Mike on January 10, 2005 03:40 PM

Thanks for the feedback, Mike; as an extrmely frequent traveller, it is always only a question of time when these sort of things happen to you. That said, Ryanair responded in a very unfriendly way to my situation (and that of fellow travellers on the cancelled train service).

I happen to know that e.g. easyJet, a competitor to Ryanair in the no-frills airline market, offer new seats at cost price (i.e. price difference between paid ticket and new ticket) to passengers missing the check-in. Other "frills" airlines offer late checkings (I have done that a LARGE number of times with British Airways, KLM etc), and even more sophisticated services for elite-tier frequent flyers (free new tickets, re-opening the plane after checkin closed and ready for departure etc). ...nothing is impossible in the world of gold and platinum cards ;-)

Ryan air on the other hand, exhibited a side so unfriendly that I felt compelled to write the above...

Posted by: Anders on January 10, 2005 04:01 PM

For goodness sake, when you are booking a flight, please read the terms and conditions. If I were going on a 16:45 flight, I would be getting the 14:00 rather than the 15:00 train. Its your own fault.

Posted by: davina on February 3, 2005 08:10 PM

I actually have boarded a RyanAir flight 15 mins before Boarding at Stansted.

You people obviously came up against complete "jobsworth" Service Air ground staff.

Be aware though if you're flying ryanair it's like eating McDonnalds.. don't expect 5 Star Restaurant service..! It's cheap, mass produced air travel.

Posted by: dave on February 25, 2005 03:44 AM

I just came back from London Stansted and I still feel down. The trains had extensive delays, but still I was only one minute (!) late and they closed the counter right in front of me.
I was referred to the ticket office and offered a flight for next day. I guess, they're keeping thight to their rules to earn more money.
Next time, I'll go for another airline.

Posted by: Jan on March 8, 2005 07:51 PM

Glad to say that I haven't had one bad experience with Ryan Air. I am ALWAYS there at least 2 hours before the flight and at £35 return from Spain to the UK I would be prepared to put up with quite a bit. I find them really good value for money, and as I say, I haven't had one bad experience and I have been flying with them since they started and about 6 times a year backwards and forwards.

Keep smiling!!

Posted by: Violet King on March 24, 2005 01:08 PM

I am amazed by Ryan Air or should I say Lyin Air, during the May bank holiday 2005 I flew from Liverpool to Dublin.
I am still on my soap box about this so could go on all day but I will just tell you the bare facts and enlighten you with some of the quotes we received from Ryan Air staff and representatives.

1. 240 passengers had to wait between 5 am and 4.30 PM to board a flight with Ryan Air to Dublin (yes a mear 11 1/2 hour delay!!!!!!!!!!)

2. We received no communication for hours and we were told that the flight will be cancelled when Ryan Air say that it is, If we left during the delay we would not receive a refund.

3. Ryan Air are an illegal set up as they do not follow Air Passenger rights. After a certain time they should (by law) provide drinks and snacks, after 8 hours you should be provided accomodation. We didn't even receive an apology let alone a drink or a bed!! Ryan Air are in dispute of the EU regulations so do not follow them.

4. To follow are some quotes that Ryan Air representatives said to us on that day and I promise they are genuine, it really does show what they think of their customers.......

‘If you don’t like it don’t fly with us’

‘This is Ryan Air expect the worst’

After 6 hours of waiting for a supervisor to appear we eventually tracked one down who said ‘I don’t want to answer any more questions now go away’

‘The flight will be cancelled until Ryan Air tell us otherwise, if you chose to leave you will not get a refund’

The was also an announcement over the speaker, it was an Irish Man who stated that he was Michael O’Leary, he said… Hello, this is Michael O’Leary and this is what I think of the Ryan Air customers and the speaker went dead. We were insulted and amazed by this communication.

‘ I will try and get you the Air Passenger Rights but I have other prioritises’

I am sure if you are reading this website it is probably because you have experienced simular treatment from Ryan Air so there is no point telling you NEVER to fly Ryan Air, but tell everyone you know and hopefully they will not be around much longer.

Thanks - Happy Flying!!

Posted by: Catherine on May 17, 2005 10:46 AM

Are the check-in staff - who were horrible - Ryanair staff? And, as someone asked above, (whether sub-contracted staff or Ryanair employees) are they incentivised to make us buy more expensive tickets. Maybe the desk clerk was having a go at Ryanair by being so unreasonable.

I've travelled with Ryanir on, say 8 flights so far and found them fine. Olny once though I reckon was I around the 40 minutes mark. I sympathise with the minimising airport time objective.

Non-co-ordination of transport is the rule in the UK though. Pre rail privatisation, my 21.00 train was 3 hours late from Edinburgh into Birmingham a fact known from the time it left Edinburgh at 17.00. No arrangements had been made to help those who'd missed their last train home and I cannot recall much of an apology.

Posted by: Simon Horsman on June 20, 2005 02:22 PM

Anders Jacobsen . . . You are an IDIOT !

If you turn up at a train station after the train had departed – guess what ? – you miss the train. Is that the train’s fault ?

No – it’s YOUR FAULT ! ! !

International Airports are very complicated places and in this post 9/11 era we all now have to live in , it should come as no surprise to any NORMAL human being that it takes time to process all the passengers and their bags through security and then to physically get those passengers and bags to the aircraft. There has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere. They make it perfectly clear when their check-in desks will close and if you arrive after that dead line – for any reason – that’s just your hard luck !

It seems to me that you make a habit of being late. “I have been late for loads of flights in the past with a number of airlines (including stingy KLM, BA, Scandinavian and others) and have always been granted an exception, up to some 17 minutes before take-off (my personal "best"/"worst")...” I’d say it’s time to cop yourself on and get to the airport ON TIME ! ! !

Gee – there’s an idea !

Ken !

Posted by: Ken on July 30, 2005 12:31 AM

you feel hard done by!

please stop winging, why do you expect passengers to wait on a plane so that you can board late? maybe we have a timetable to fill when arriving at our destination. be on time be on the plane. snooze you lose


Posted by: big pat on August 22, 2005 03:18 PM

just got back from gerona with paddy air,what a joke, imagine 100 people going from gate to gate as the announcer keeps changing gate numbers!!they must have been bored and wanted a laugh!!herded like sheep when the gate opened,surley staff/cabin crew, and then back at stansted paying the extortionat parking fine/fee??dont do stansted or paddy air

Posted by: frenchy on September 25, 2005 07:08 PM

Flew form Stanstead to Spain in the summer and witnessed staff deliberately closing the gate as a spannish family rushed towards them. We were on the same flight and we were not at all late. When the spannish woman apologised the Ryan Air staff member told her that people like her made her job a nightmare and that she should go back to Spain. Then laughed about this to her friends. I was so shocked I was speechless (which is rare!). I wrote a letter of complaint and got a very unsatisfactory reply. I dont think they really cared.

Posted by: Joan Grant on October 13, 2005 10:04 PM
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