Ryanair persistantly misled passengers alleges CAA

By | Category: Travel rumblings

RyanairBoth the Daily Mail and Metro carry virtually the same headline this morning. On Metro it is “Christmas Cancelled by Ryanair” and on the Daily Mail it is “Now Ryanair cancels Xmas.” Never let a good story be imperilled by the truth is probably the maxim of sub editors who create these headlines.

Underlying this hyperbole is anger that the media has detected about the way that Ryanair has handled the cancellation of so many flights over the autumn and winter.

This airline which, for the last few years has trumpeted the fact that it has an “Always Getting Better” programme designed to improve the customer experience has blatantly shot itself in the foot in the way it has handled the cancellation of so many flights. Michael O’Leary, CEO, admitted it was a mess but it was a mess from the time that the first announcement was made.

You could argue that the programme should be renamed “Always Getting Worse.”

On September 15th, the press release announcing the first of the cancellations was headlined (their caps) ” RYANAIR TO CANCEL LESS THAN 2% OF FLIGHTS OVER NEXT SIX WEEKS TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY.” Yes, 2% doesn’t sound very much until you realise that it would affect some 400,000 passengers. (the airline says 315,000.) At the foot of the press release it also said, ” We apologise sincerely to the small number (Small number, my eye – editor) of passengers affected by these cancellations, and we will do our utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds for them.”

Here, they did mention the fact that they would try and arrange alternative flights but, on their website, this was not mentioned, in the beginning, as a passenger right. Now the website has been changed, probably as a result of the intervention of the CAA, and it is clear that passengers have the right to a full refund and re-booking on another airline.

Yesterday, the airline announced another 18,000 flight cancellations which may affect a similar number of people who have already booked. Again, the press release spun the story so that it would appear that the airline was improving punctuality and service by “slowing growth” and thus ending rostering cancellations.

But Ryanair left passengers  (the total might be as many as 715,000 to 800,000) in the lurch but not telling the full facts to passengers which is what the CAA alleges. It has served notice that enforcement action will be taken against the airline for persistently misleading passengers.

Already on the 19th of September, the CAA had enough reservations to seek clarification from Ryanair and pointed out in its press release that, “In the event of a cancelled flight passengers can receive a full refund or choose an alternative flight.   If you choose an alternative flight you are also entitled to care and assistance. This usually means food, drink, access to communication and accommodation (if necessary).”

Mishandling the whole problem, as O’Leary sees it, seems to put  question marks over Ryanair’s “Always Getting Better” programme.  Is it for passengers or spin doctors?

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