A viral social media post complaining about Ryanair has demonstrated just how frustrated the public is with the budget Irish carrier.
1. Elderly and disabled
Posted on Elon Musk’s rebranded platform “X”, the “tweet” from user “Old School House Venosc” recounts her elderly parents’ experience of dealing with Ryanair’s customer services after a mix-up with boarding passes. The parents “in their 70s and 80s” had downloaded their return boarding cards instead of outbound ones. As a result, they were charged £110 (€128) to print the two missing pieces of paper at the airport.
At the time of writing this article, Venosc’s tweet has had 13.1 million views, as well as 156,300 likes and 16,000 reposts – a degree of traction reflecting a high level of public exasperation with the carrier’s money gouging practices.
2. “Shame on you”
“Hey @Ryanair” said the tweet. “My parents who are in their 70s and 80s, had accidentally downloaded the return flight boarding card instead of the outgoing ones and you charged them £110 to print them at the airport. £110 for two pieces of paper which took 1 minute. Shame on you.”
To make matters worse, the travelling couple, one of whom is disabled, had paid extra to sit together so the wife could assist her husband. After going through the online process to achieve adjacent seats however, they were only checked-in for their return flight. They ended up sitting separately after paying the airport printing charge of £110, according to Venosc’s follow up tweets.
“People must be seriously annoyed with your practices for this to have gone viral,” the poster told Ryanair, adding “I’ve had the Metro, Radio 4 today and BBC contact me.”
Thousands of people commented on the thread, sharing similar experiences of poor Ryanair customer services and difficulties in following up with the airline.
In a response that illustrates all too well how hard it is to reach Ryanair’s customer services, as well as compounding the sense that anyone who is not internet savvy is penalised, Ryanair told the complainant, “We are sorry about your experience. Our DMs are currently unavailable, please contact us via Facebook Messenger for assistance or check this link for other ways to contact us.”
The link in question led to a confusing page with further links to chatboxes; Twitter; Facebook; an Irish telephone number; as well as a supposed “all countries contact page” that, when clicked on, led to a “login” page for Ryanair showing various payment options and payment warnings. For anyone who does not live their life online, these sorts of links can be extremely anxiety-inducing.
Finally, right at the bottom of the list, there were links to an online form for queries and complaints and a postal address, promising a response within 15 days.
4. Terms and Conditions four times longer than the U.S. Constitution
Despite the degree of shared outrage, Ryanair’s practices are a well-known problem (and they are not the only guilty party). As far back as 2019, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, issued a 75-page report naming and shaming several budget airlines that charge flyers huge fees for administrative processes and small corrections such as name spelling errors, often exceeding the initial cost of the ticket. Articles dating back years across various media platforms from Frommer’s, to iNews, to Reddit, and various tabloid and broadsheet newspapers, detail customer woes akin to Venosc’s.
Company responses often simply refer complainants to their terms and conditions and point out that “as you did not comply [. . .] this penalty was correctly charged”. In an analysis that highlights how hard it is for customers to ensure this doesn’t happen to them, Frommer’s notes that “the Terms and Conditions on Ryanair.com has 19,456 words. By contrast, the original U.S. Constitution has 4,543 words.”