Low-cost airline giant Ryanair is back in the news again, this time for refusing to refund the ticket of a deceased passenger because it said she had “died too soon before her flight”.
According to The Daily Mail, Beryl Parsons, 78, was due to fly to the Canary Islands with her son and grandchildren for a holiday in October.
In June, just four months before the flight, she was unexpectedly told she only had three weeks to live and died.
Her son Doug wrote to the airline to request a refund for his mother’s £230 ($389) airfare from the UK’s StanstedAirport to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, including a copy of his late mother’s death certificate.
However the airline refused to refund the ticket as it said Mrs Parsons, who had cancer, had died more than 28 days before the booked flight.
The letter from Ryanair read: “Unfortunately, we regret to advise you that in accordance with Ryanair’s General Conditions of Carriage detailed below we cannot refund your booking”
It also included a section from the airline’s terms and conditions regarding bereavements that states: “In the case of a bereavement of an immediate family member (spouse, civil partner, mother, father, brother, sister, child, grandparent or grandchild) within 28 days of intended travel we will… make a refund.”
Mr Parsons was so appalled by the airline’s response that he threatened to put his mother’s ashes in an urn on the seat she had paid for, film it and upload it to YouTube.
The airline subsequently issued an apology and refunded the money.
The family had planned to take the trip to Spain last Christmas after learning that Mrs Parsons had been diagnosed with cancer, but she was too ill so they cancelled the plans. When her health appeared to improve in April, the family booked the tickets. But in June she was unexpectedly told the cancer had spread and was terminal.
Mr Parsons told the Daily Mail: “Her first comment when she was told she was dying was, ‘Oh, I suppose, I will have to cancel my holiday then’. She loved travelling and it was the thought of the holiday that was keeping her going.”
A Ryanair spokesman said: “He was entitled to a full refund, and this has now been sent to him, with our sincere apologies”.
Mr Parsons said: “It was never really about the money. It was all about the principle”.
This isn’t the first time Ryanair has been criticised as thoughtless, with CEO Michael O’Leary last year claiming passengers should be “charged for their stupidity.”
Mr O’Leary’s comments followed an online campaign launched by a disgruntled passenger who had to pay $600 to print off boarding passes in order to have her family fly with the airline.
Ryanair passengers are told to check in online and print their own boarding passes – the fee for not doing so is $120 per person.
The passenger, 35 year-old Suzy McLeod said because she had been staying in a rural villa in Spain without internet access, she was unable to print her family’s boarding passes before flying back home to England.
At a press conference, O’Leary responded to McLeod’s Twitter comments about the airline by saying: “Mother pays [$600] for being an idiot and failing to comply with her agreement at the time of booking.”