Ryanair has banned passengers from travelling unless they pay back “unlawful” refunds for flights they did not take during the pandemic.
Passengers who processed ‘chargebacks’ on their credit cards for flights that operated but which they did not take will only be permitted to fly again with Ryanair once they pay back that money. Ryanair estimates that some 850 people will be impacted by this.
A chargeback is when a customer asks their credit or debit card company for a refund for a service not provided, and this is charged to the retailer's bank. However, Ryanair insists that if the flight took off, then the service was provided.
Some people have already been barred from getting on flights back to Ireland until they pay Ryanair for flights they did not take during the pandemic.
Travel expert Eoghan Corry said that the issue is unlikely to affect more than 100 people in Ireland.
“I’d be surprised if the number of people who used the chargeback is in the hundreds, it will probably be dozens of Irish people really," he said.
"The reason they are bearing this grudge is that it [chargebacks] has interfered and contradicted with their own refund policy. The chargeback means that the credit card company will refund you and then go into dispute with the merchant supplier, in this case Ryanair.
"They also charge Ryanair a penalty for every chargeback. It’s completely different from the refund process. And it’s subject to private contract law, not the consumer rights legislation we’re all familiar with.
"Ryanair is sending a clear message, that 'if the aircraft took off it’s your problem. If we cancelled the flight, it’s our problem.' They don’t like the fact that the chargeback system allows people whose flight took off and weren’t on it to get their money back."
Ryanair said that the “many millions" of customers whose flights were cancelled during the pandemic and who applied directly to Ryanair for refunds, which they received directly from Ryanair, will not be affected by the chargeback measures.
"There is a tiny minority of passengers (less than 850) who purchased non-refundable tickets on Ryanair flights which operated as scheduled during Covid-19 but who chose not to travel and then unlawfully processed chargebacks via their credit card company. These few passengers will be required to settle their outstanding debt before they will be allowed to fly with Ryanair again," a statement from the company said.
"This regretted restriction applies to only a tiny fraction of Ryanair’s 150m passengers annually who chose to unlawfully break their booking agreements with us."