Ryanair to whack extra charges on flights already booked
Sick of the rain? Why not go to Spain! Millions of UK holidaymakers do just that, and many of those will have been very organised and already booked their flights, car hire and accommodation, so they have nothing to worry about. Well, nothing except an extra fee they will have to pay if they actually want to get on their aeroplane in Spain…
Ryanair, which is now, tragically, the leading airline flying between the UK and Spain, has sent emails to “millions” of passengers booked to fly from Spanish airports to warn them that they may have to pay a surcharge before they are allowed on board.
The message states “We may be forced* to debit passengers for any government imposed increases in airport charges prior to your travel date”, quoting its own rule that “if any such tax, fee or charge is introduced or increased after your reservation has been made you will be obliged to pay it (or any increase) prior to departure”.
At the moment, it is not certain that the airport charges will be increased, but it is practically certain that Ryanair will pass the costs on to travellers, even where they had paid in full months before departure. Richard Taylor of the Civil Aviation Authority told The Independent that it was a “commercial decision” for an airline as to whether it would pass a charge increase on retrospectively but that “they are legally within their rights to take money from customers who have already paid.” Of course they are. British Airways, which also flies from London to both Madrid and Barcelona, will not be back-charging customers.
Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said “It’s a bit uncertain at the moment but it looks like the Spanish government are going to double the airport fees overnight the day the [Spanish] budget gets passed. We have already taken a number of millions of bookings for passengers intending to travel to these airports this summer and if they double the taxes we will be sending them a bill for the increase taxes or debiting their debit and credit cards”.
But it’s OK, you don’t have to pay the extra.Mr O’Leary graciously concedes that “you can of course reject that additional payment, cancel your flight and then not fly with us if you so wish. But we’re not going to be funding the Spanish government’s taxes.” Bearing in mind this will apply to flights leaving Spain to return to the UK, this may not really be much of an option for most people. Still, Mr O’Leary does have an interesting view of what the word optional means. Just look at Ryanair's list of optional extras, that include actually booking your flight, paying for it and oxygen. Good job we all love Ryanair so much eh?