Ryanair has banned some passengers who received refunds for flights unless they give the money they received back to the company, an investigation has found.
According to MoneySavingExpert (MSE) the low-cost airline has barred some passengers who had received refunds for flights disrupted by Covid, the Sun reports.
MSE spoke to three customers who were told they couldn't fly until they returned the money, with one customer being told just days before being due to travel.
The customers had received their refunds through their credit card company via the "chargeback" process – which kicks in when you don't receive goods or services you've paid for, or if you're refused a refund, as is the case with Ryanair.
Some passengers reported being made to feel anxious as they were contacted by the airline's fraud department about their refunds.
Many airlines were criticised for being slow to process refunds during last year's lockdown when the majority of flights were cancelled, or for not offering refunds at all.
However, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently ruled that Ryanair and British Airways would not have to refund customers for lockdown flights.
The three passengers MSE spoke to had booked flights for summer 2020 but decided not to travel because of government warnings regarding non-essential travel, with each customer asking Ryanair for a refund, but being refused.
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They proceeded to ask their credit card provider, American Express, through the chargeback purchase protection scheme, which then refunded them, despite the budget airline disputing one of the claims.
When the passengers tried to book flights for this summer, everything seemed fine until they tried to check-in or change their booking, which is when Ryanair wanted the chargeback money first.
The airline did offer to return the money for the 2021 flights if the customers didn't want to repay the chargeback money, but one passenger stood to lose hundreds in accommodation, car hire and Covid tests if they cancelled his flight.
A passenger affected said: “Travelling with Covid restrictions is stressful, but this totally unforeseen payment demand took stress to a new level.
“Ryanair took a new booking for flights and surprised me when I tried to check-in online three days before travelling to discover this demand.”
Guy Anker, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "This is absolutely outrageous behaviour from Ryanair. It essentially had these passengers over a barrel shortly before their holiday at a point which turned excitement into stress and anxiety.
“And by its fraud department collecting the money, passengers could be forgiven for feeling scared and thinking Ryanair considers they are somehow in trouble.”
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