Ryanair? Never ever again ... or: The story of a trip to London
Ryanair? I will never ever put a foot in one of their aircrafts. Even when I have to book an private jet instead … I will never ever put a feet into one of their aircrafts. Period.
The flight back to Bremen was my 250th flight since loosing my fear of flying five - maybe six - years ago. I experienced a lot of things on my journeys … an aircraft from FRA to TXL that turned back to FRA just short of TXL because of inoperational slats. Unfriendly stewardesses. A go-around once. Approaches giving a roller coaster a run for their money. But yesterday was something completely new to me. I have to explain something different first: For all the work and the hassles with helping me with the construction of my new home, I invited my mother, two of my sisters and my brother and his girlfriend to London for a one-day trip (my father can’t use an aircraft out of health reasons). I found a reasonable cheap ticket at Ryanair and with the flight pricing at other carriers such day would much more expensive. There is something important to know to undestand the whole situation: My brothers girlfriend is from Chile, she is living in Hamburg for a long time now. So she is not an EU citizen We knew that you have to go to the check-in to get a stamp on the self-printed ticket when you are not a resident of the European Union. However when going through the boarding in Bremen this was an integral process of boarding along with the weighing of the hand luggage. They checked the documents, put the stamp on it and we were able to enter the plane without problems. We had a nice day in London and at the end we went back to Stansted. It was a really great day. We were a little bit low on time however more than sufficient to do some last minute souvenir shopping, going through security, getting to the gate, albeit we were at the rear end of the row, boarding hasn’t started at that time. So my sisters and my mother went through the gate no much later, I went to through the gate and walked down in order to help my family (they don’t fly that often), however when walking on apron I realized that my brother and his girlfriend didn’t went with us. However I entered the aircraft to look after the rest of my family. But after an additional minute my brother and his girlfriend were still not on board. So what had happened? I had already an idea because as a experience troubleshooter, you immediately go through the possible failure modes of an situation. The stamp. Dang. But at that moment I thought “Well, they will check that and put the stamp on it when all people have boarded in order to speed up boarding”. However when they closed the doors, I quickly called my brother (call ended before push-back) and I was right with my foreboding. The girlfriend of my brother wasn’t allowed to enter the aircraft because this stamp was missing. Just to explain it again: It’s not an official stamp, it’s a stamp the Ryanair visa counter put onto the ticket just to show, that you have showed them your passport that you have the valid visa. She had all the needed documents. Nothing was missing, nothing was unclear. (The proof : She flew with Easyjet to Hamburg today - with no hassles .. with no problems).The stamp was missing, they denied boarding, they closed the gate, and I flew with my mother and my sisters to Bremen. Of course my brother stayed in London as he couldn’t leave his girlfriend behind. Yes, we made the error not to go to the Visa counter as we thought in stress that the persons in front of the security have the same role as in Bremen. And so I have no hope to write a complaint that will yield more than a generic mail. However the behaviour of “Don’t give a shit, if you have to enter the flight as you need to get home and your group is already on the plane” attitude, the denied boarding because of a missing stamp Ryanair put themself on the printed ticked as part of their processes, the merciless closing of the gate, the inability of checking the visa at the gate (in my experience the people at the check-in and at the gate are often recruited from the same group of people, so it’s not uncommon to see the person from the check-in at the gate again). This is an unacceptable behaviour to me. It’s just unfriendly and it just show that passengers at Ryanair are just sentient lifestock that they have to fly from A to B. I think at any other airline we could have used, they would have checked it at the gate, perhaps after calling the supervisor, and allowed her to board. But not at Ryanair.
Yes I know it’s my fault. I booked at Ryanair. I would never do that for when just flying alone: I’m prefering Lufthansa and Germanwings, but Easyjet or Air Berlin are good as well e.g. . However I was able to purchase six return tickets at 144 Euro and that looked as a good deal then (half of it was credit card costs as I don’t own the only obscure card allowing you to pay without extra costs). I knew that I have to expect nothing that just gives you hint that you are considered as valued customer. You know that when you book Ryanair. How did this story found it’s happy end: We were limited to help from remote: My father and I were able to help. They drove at night by bus to London Victoria and at the end they were able to sleep in a bed instead of a airport chair (70 GBP), I was able to book an Easyjet flight at 1:30 AM for (160 Euros for 2 tickets). 1:30 because I drove my sis from Oldenburg home and then back to Lueneburg. To add insult to injury: As my brother had my car keys, I had to rent a car (61 Euros) in Bremen … however I was glad that there was still a rental car at 21:45 at this rather small airport. This morning my brother and his girl friend used the train from St. Pancras to go Luton (don’t know what this will add to the bill). Had to find out a lot of things this morning how to get them to the airport in Luton without the need to print something out. E.g. the EasyJet bus service to Luton don’t have a “buy ticket at curbside” option according to the website) … dang. My brother and his girlfriend were rather jazzed by situation and fscking tired, so I helped them by phone to get though London. BTW: A big thankyou to my manager Kristan that he gave me an additional day of vacation without asking questions … so I had time to work things out :) Just rebooking the flight wasn’t an option. Rebooking 100 Euros … per person. As they would have to go to the checkin to get the boarding passes (as they hadn’t an portable printer): 40 Euros … per person. Nice extra 280 Euros for Ryanair due to denied boarding. You could even speculate, if this is the reason for such a draconian enforcement of rules. Don’t know what they want to achieve with such an behaviour. However I can tell you, what they achieved: Ryanair will not get a single Euro from me … My brother arrived in Hamburg he is driving to Bremen in order to fetch my car from the car parking. Hell knows what this will add to the bill as you don’t know if you just rented the parking lot for 24 hours or if you actually purchased it for life … All this because of a missing stamp. And perhaps you know understand why I would rather use a bathtub and a paddle to get from UK to Europe than to board a Ryanair aircraft. Ryanair lost 9 customers yesterday and I suspect some additional people in the family of my brothers girlfriend. And when just one reader is as disgusted from this behavior like me the time invested in this blog entry is a better investment than the time I would need to write complaint that would be finally futile at the end. PS: As fate isn’t without a sense of irony, the aircraft hat to go around at Hamburg and they flew circles for an additional 15 minutes because of problems with the runway in HAM. When it rains it pours.