Ryanair has banned passengers who pursued chargebacks against the airline during the pandemic from taking new flights this year.
Unless people return their refunds for journeys disrupted by Covid-19, they will not be allowed to travel with the low-cost airline – in a move described as ‘outrageous’ by personal finance experts.
An investigation by Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert discovered some holidaymakers were asked to send back funds ranging between £400 and £630 in order to board a new flight.
The consumer website spoke to three passengers who said they booked flights for last summer but decided not to go as the Government had warned against non-essential travel to their destinations.
During the lockdowns, the Irish airline carried on flying many of its routes even though most travel was in effect banned.
The travellers asked Ryanair for a refund but they were refused, leading many to successfully seek reimbursement from their credit card companies via the ‘chargeback’ process.
Customers of certain credit card firms, such as American Express, Mastercard and Visa, can use chargeback to reclaim disputed payments made on their debit, credit and charge cards.
The process is usually used when a company refuses a refund.
One furious passenger even took to social media to accuse the budget airline of ‘blackmail’, however, Ryanair has defended the decision, saying it has the right to stop passengers from flying if they owe the company money.
A spokesperson said: ‘The many millions of Ryanair customers whose flights were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic and who applied directly to Ryanair for refunds, which they received directly from Ryanair, will be completely unaffected by these measures.
‘There is a tiny minority of passengers – less than 1,000 – 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.’
The accusations come just a week after the Competition and Markets Authority dropped its investigation into whether British Airways and Ryanair broke the law by failing to offer refunds to customers who could not legally take their flights because of Government restrictions.
The watchdog said at the time the airlines should have given them their money back.
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