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Ryanair charges elderly couple £110 after they download wrong boarding cards

An elderly couple have said they were “horrified” to be charged £110 by Ryanair for new boarding passes after they mistakenly checked into the wrong flight.

Ruth Jaffe, 79, and Peter Jaffe, 80, had to pay the fee after they accidentally downloaded their return boarding passes instead of the outgoing ones for a flight to France.

They said they were upset by the charge, which prompted a reaction on social media, where other customers complained about the budget airline’s fees.

Ryanair defended its actions, saying the charges were in line with its policy.

On Friday, the Jaffes, from Ealing in west London, were flying from Stansted to Bergerac. Ruth Jaffe said she had found Ryanair’s website “very confusing” but thought she had printed the correct tickets.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said the mistake became apparent when they arrived at the airport.

“I was then told that I had to go to the Ryanair desk to get a boarding card, and there they charged me £55 per person,” she said. “[I was] horrified.”

She added that her husband had struggled to walk across the airport, and she was left “flustered and upset” by the ordeal. The couple had no choice but to pay, but the incident prompted their daughter to tell social media users what happened.

She posted on X, formerly Twitter, saying her mother had made “an honest mistake”. She added: “£110 for 2 pieces of paper which took 1 minute. Shame on you [Ryanair].” She said her parents had paid an extra fee so they could sit together, but this did not happen.

She tweeted: “My mum made a mistake while trying to check in. You told her she wouldn’t sit next to her disabled husband if she didn’t pay extra so she tried. It then checked her in for the return flight only. They sat separately after paying £110.”

Her post, which has been viewed more than 13m times, led people to discuss their frustration over similar experiences.

Martyn James, a consumer rights expert, told the BBC that it was “deeply unfair” to penalise people for an innocent mistake. He said that it was hard for people to resolve these sorts of issues with the airline, unless they considered taking them to a small claims court.

“But none of this guarantees compensation and a lot of people don’t have the time or energy,” he said. “If more people complained about a lack of transparency, more airlines start to reconsider these fees.”

He said that for years, airlines “have been stripping out things that used to be free and charging for them”. James said the couple’s experience resonated with people because they are “angry they’ve been hit with these prices too – whether it’s luggage charges, paying to sit next to your family, or something else”.

Despite the furore, Ryanair has resisted offering any refund or compensation. The airline said in a statement: “All passengers travelling with Ryanair agree to check in online before arriving at their departure airport and all passengers are sent an email/SMS, reminding them to do so 24 hours before departure. We regret that these passengers ignored their email reminder and failed to check in online.”

The statement prompted a further tweet from the Jaffes’ daughter. She said the couple had tried to check in for the outbound flight and managed to do so for the return journey, but they were confused by the website.

In a comment likely to strike a chord with many other customers who have complained about the online experience at Ryanair, she countered: “They’d been on your website trying to check in, your site just spends more time selling extras, even at check in, than getting people checked in.”

Paying Ryanair £55 to check in at the airport might sound over the top, but in truth, it is one of a number of hefty fees imposed by the airline.

While Ryanair’s headline prices can seem low, such as £37 to fly one way from Gatwick to Alicante in late September, the add-ons will soon bump up the cost.

Want to check in a bag? That is an extra £36 each way if you book online, or up to £60 if you add this option at the airport. Travelling with someone else and fancy sitting together? You will most likely pay £5 each or £20 return. This charge may rise to as much as £13 a person a leg on some journeys, if you add this option after you make the reservation.

Adding an infant who is carried on your lap adds £25 or £50 return, and if you have a pram to bring, that will be an extra £15 each way.

And if you forget to check in, as this couple did, there is a £55 charge to do so at the airport. Check in, but lose your boarding card en route, and you will have to hand over another £20. Add a bicycle to your booking the day before you depart and it is a hefty extra £75 each way. You have been warned.


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