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I have long held a cautiously positive view of Ryanair. While I fully appreciate much of the negativity directed towards them, they have most certainly improved the customer experience and (notwithstanding the occasional blip) deserve credit for that.
As such, give them a go and you really will be able to get some fantastically priced European trips. Whether that’s a holiday in itself, or a journey to a hugely reduced ex-Europe Business Class flight, Ryanair can be a very useful tool for the “value traveller”.
However, my praise above is predicated on one major point: you need to get everything right.
Yep, make an error with your booking details, forget to check in online or print your boarding pass, carry overweight luggage etc etc and the general reality is you will pay through the nose to correct it. In some cases substantially more than the cost of your flight, or booking a new flight.
How I Got it Embarrassingly Wrong
In light of my detailed knowledge of just how expensive Ryanair can be when you get something wrong, you would have thought I would be pretty good at checking (and double checking) that my Ryanair booking is spot on to the last tiny detail. Well, that’s exactly what I did recently – the names were right, the flights were during the kids’ holidays, the destinations were correct. The problem? I’d already booked us on a holiday somewhere else on those dates.
Please, feel free to take a small break from this article while you laugh helplessly at me. Bear in mind I’m an “expert travel blogger”, too.
The first thing to say is that (outside of being forced to by the law) Ryanair do not do refunds*. I knew that, and was not expecting any money back. As such, I more or less instantly wrote off the €250 or so I’d just lovingly spent on a nice family weekend away, on dates we could not make.
However, I wasn’t going to give in straight away, and this is where Ryanair – at least by their own rigid standards – came up trumps.
Provided you get in touch with them in the first 24 hours after booking, Ryanair will correct “minor errors” on your booking. However, “minor errors” here, remarkably, include booking flights on the wrong dates. So I saw a means of salvation…
Sure enough, when I phoned up Ryanair (their online chat wouldn’t work – I find it rarely does) to try and work this out, they were happy to change my flight dates for me without any charge. The only payment I (understandably) had to make was the small difference in the current selling price of the flights on the new dates.
Frankly I think this is impressive, certainly considering that Ryanair tickets are categorically non-refundable (see quote number 12 here, if you’re not easily offended). I would hardly say getting the dates of your flights wrong is a “minor error”, but I am not going to argue the point, and this concession worked brilliantly for me.
So lesson learned – make sure that not only are all your Ryanair booking details correct, but that you’re also not already going on holiday somewhere else when you do.
However, if for whatever reason (including, as in my case, idiocy) you do find that you’ve made a mess of your Ryanair booking, this 24 hour “error window” may well be your saviour too.
Note that if it does all go horribly wrong for you and the 24 hour window can’t save you, while a Ryanair refund remains largely an impossibility, you can claim back the taxes on any flight you don’t actually take.
*There is a small exception here for death or serious illness – but even that Ryanair refund is with travel credit.