Absurd Ryanair “Stranded” Passenger Story

Absurd Ryanair “Stranded” Passenger Story

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Wales Online has the story of how “a woman with diabetes was abandoned at a Spanish airport” by Ryanair, and “had to sleep alone overnight at Alicante airport without her medication.” That sounds terrible, and I’m sure it was all unpleasant, but which party was actually at fault for this? Let’s dig into the details…

Traveler spends all her money on holiday, can’t afford to check oversized bag

That headline actually sums up what happened here, so let’s go over the facts. A 63-year-old Scottish woman with Type 2 diabetes took a five day holiday in Spain, flying from Glasgow to Alicante. Here’s what happened prior to the return flight, according to the traveler:

“We were at the gate queuing for priority when a woman came up to me and told me to go with her and bring my suitcase. I went with her and she told me my suitcase was too big to go on the plane. I said ‘how can it not come on the plane? I travelled here with it.’

She told me I would have to pay €69 but it was the end of my holiday and I didn’t have any money left. I couldn’t understand why I needed to pay for the case when I had flown over from Prestwick with it just five days before.”

She then tried to explain to airport staff she needed to get home in order to take her diabetes medication, as she hadn’t taken it on the trip, and she was expecting to get home that day. They didn’t budge, and said that if she wanted to speak to a supervisor, she’d have to leave the secure area.

At this point a friend transfered her €69 to pay the bag fee, but it was too late, as the flight was already closed. She then spent the night at the airport, though the traveler was “frightened to close her eyes.” As she described it:

“I tried to find somewhere in the airport safe and I dozed on and off on the seats. To think Ryanair left a female in a foreign country on her own is absolutely shocking.”

My take on this Ryanair “denied boarding” story

The whole basis of this story seems to be that Ryanair let her take her bag to Spain in the cabin, but demanded it be checked on the return. Those who buy priority boarding with Ryanair (which it seems this traveler did) can take on a small personal bag (40x20x25cm) and a 10 kg wheelie bag (55x40x20cm).

With that in mind:

  • It’s possible they let it slide on the way out, but not on the way back; if a cop pulls you over for speeding, suggesting you drove too fast in the past but weren’t stopped isn’t much of a defense
  • It’s possible her bag was heavier and bigger on the way back, because perhaps she did some shopping in Spain
  • Ryanair has baggage sizers at each boarding gate, so I’m pretty confident they didn’t make up that her bag was above the allowable limit, or else she could have proven otherwise

I don’t want to come across as uncompassionate toward this traveler, because I’m sure this was a bad experience for her. If I had witnessed a situation like this, I would have gladly paid the €69 fee so she could get home, and to avoid this issue.

At the same time, it’s also important to take personal responsibility here, and in this case the airline really has little to no fault, as I see it:

  • I realize everyone has a different financial situation, but spending all your money on a trip so that you couldn’t even afford an oversize bag on the way back seems like unwise planning
  • If you are going to travel with zero savings for an emergency, make sure you’re at least fully aware of the rules that you’re agreeing to when booking a ticket on an ultra low cost carrier that’s known for charging fees for everything; simply saying “well they let it slide in the past” doesn’t meet that threshold
  • If you have medication that’s essential for survival, don’t plan on your flight operating exactly as scheduled, and leave a buffer

Bottom line

A story of how Ryanair “stranded” a Scottish traveler in Spain is getting quite a bit of attention. And by “stranded” I mean that the traveler had an on oversized bag, and regrettably didn’t have the money to pay to check the bag, in line with Ryanair’s policy.

Ultimately I feel bad for the fact that this traveler had to spend the night at the airport, because surely this isn’t a position anyone would want to be in. It would have been nice if other travelers pitched in to pay the fee so this woman wouldn’t be stranded. At the same time, you can’t really blame the airline for wanting to enforce its (very reasonable) policy.

What do you make of this Ryanair story?

Conversations (44)
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  1. Frank Lyons. Guest

    No credit/debit card? Ryanair gets blamed so often for situations outside it's control. I don't know if this situation was one of them.

  2. John Paskey Guest

    Well, two rights don't make a wrong. Just because the bag wasn't caught on the inbound flight isn't a basis for allowing it to go through on the outbound flight.

    Was the airline at fault? Questionable. Did the fee need to be paid in cash? If so, that's an issue. Did the passenger not have any credit card or any money at all? If so, that's a real problem in general. How long did...

    Well, two rights don't make a wrong. Just because the bag wasn't caught on the inbound flight isn't a basis for allowing it to go through on the outbound flight.

    Was the airline at fault? Questionable. Did the fee need to be paid in cash? If so, that's an issue. Did the passenger not have any credit card or any money at all? If so, that's a real problem in general. How long did the airline wait for the passenger? Did the passenger leave the gate for an extended period of time to try and get the money? Did the airline know where she was?

    Way to many variables to form a definitive opinion on who was right and was wrong. Or who was wrong and who was wronger.

  3. Andy 11235 Guest

    I'm really stuck on the notion that someone would spend so much money on a vacation that they cannot afford an unexpected €69 fee. I am not for a moment suggesting that vacations should only be for the rich, but there are so many little things that could happen on a do-it-yourself vacation that might cost $100 more or less, that it just feels bizarre for someone to spend down to the point that this isn't an option.

  4. Mandy Adamson Guest

    I agree with your comment. The traveller should have had more foresight. I've worked in Spanish airports and, most of the time Ryanair was in the wrong.
    But this woman didn't really plan well enough. We can't expect to travel on pity.

  5. Bob Guest

    Without all info I won't make a final judgment but some personal accountability is always warranted when traveling. For example why would she not have a credit or atm card? Did she seriously spent all her money that she brought with her? If she is too poor to have credit cards or sufficient money for a trip the right thing to do is not fly to Spain for holiday. Second why would you travel without...

    Without all info I won't make a final judgment but some personal accountability is always warranted when traveling. For example why would she not have a credit or atm card? Did she seriously spent all her money that she brought with her? If she is too poor to have credit cards or sufficient money for a trip the right thing to do is not fly to Spain for holiday. Second why would you travel without important meds. Flight delays/cancelations are all over Europe. She got 80 euros from her friend she could have at least stay at a cheap hotel. It was only a 5 day trip how much luggage did she need?

  6. Azamaraal Diamond

    I am amazed at how snarly most of the responses are. Reminds me of f... talk.

    If, as stated, this was the same bag she flew out with and if, as stated, the problem was dimensional, then the airline must share some responsibility and should have allowed her to fly home. To allow flight outbound with an oversize but to deny inbound is a bit smelly - like "bait and switch". On outbound she could...

    I am amazed at how snarly most of the responses are. Reminds me of f... talk.

    If, as stated, this was the same bag she flew out with and if, as stated, the problem was dimensional, then the airline must share some responsibility and should have allowed her to fly home. To allow flight outbound with an oversize but to deny inbound is a bit smelly - like "bait and switch". On outbound she could have downsized or something but once abroad she is captive to the 69 pounds. Bit of a scam here.

    Being "right" in following the rules one time but not another weakens the argument that the pax was totally to blame. Obviously not the sharpest tack, though.

    EK did the same thing to me on one of the inaugural flights SYD-DXB. Outbound no problem. Inbound I was "overweight". No problem - purchased another suitcase as had lots of luggage allowance. But the "overweight" was, at most, a few ounces and the cost to the airline to fly an extra bag for free anyway was silly. Added weight to the flight. I now travel with a digital scale, of course.

  7. matt Guest

    Let's just come out and say it: This lady sounds pretty dumb.

  8. Manny Guest

    It's your last point that really undebatable. One should not leave leave meds at home thinking you'll come back on time to take it. Relying on an airline to be on time is just not reasonable (especially this summer).

  9. A Consumer Member

    Re "To think Ryanair left a female on her own in a foreign country is absolutely shocking."

    Really???

  10. Catriona Guest

    I’ve seen this news article and her suitcase was far too big for hand luggage for Ryan Air.

    The news article photos were what we call “sad compo face” here in the UK - sob story to the papers when you were clearly in the wrong, looking for compensation.

  11. Andy Diamond

    Perhaps a lack of consumer education. At least to me (and my colleagues/friends/family) it's well know that LCC (a) are very rigorous on hand luggage and (b) are charging very high fees for luggage (or any other extras). So what happened to the passenger is consistent with the business policy of LCC. If you don't like it, don't fly them. (Actually you might be better off on a legacy carrier, which nowadays also charges fees, but they are generally lower).

  12. Matthew Guest

    So what is the story? Didn't pay for oversize luggage, no transport. 100% her fault. And btw Alicante Airport is perfectly safe to spend the night. 100% safer than the streets of Benidorm, where she probably spent the days&nights drinking.

  13. James LeBlanc Guest

    If the traveler was in her twenties, you can sum it up that she likely spent her last but if money, but when you're in your sixties, and can't pull together €69, then maybe you shouldn't be taking holidays. You need to be smarter than this. And don't get me started about the medication. That was a really bad move.

    Ryanair policies about bags are universally known.

  14. J. M. Longstaff Guest

    We only once bought Ryanair tickets. Never again. We were not able to get any response from Ryanair when we had to change our tickets and lost everything we had paid. It was a very frustrating experience.

    1. A Consumer Guest

      I often fly Ryanair between Bristol and Bergerac. The cost of the tickets is normally very low, and the flight-reliability is normally very good. On the few occasions when things have gone wrong, a credit card and a 5 star travel insurance policy sorted things out quicker and better than Ryanair's iffy 'customer service'.

  15. Ray Gold

    There is nothing more cheap than a Brit going to Spain on holiday. She was afraid to sleep in the airport? If I was going to have to spend the night in an airport, it would be a Spanish one as my first choice. All the crime here happens in the streets having your belongings grabbed. In all my trips through airports here, I have never seen a security/police even talk to a traveler. Of course it might happen with Brits being drunk going home.

  16. Blaz Guest

    We don't know how much "over" weight or size her baggage actually was, and this is relevant I think. Were they being arse-holes over a small amount or was she flouting the rules? And why can't they have a policy whereby she can just pay the money at some later stage and ban her from RyanAir until she repays it? Who travels without a credit card? Some countries have stores that actually don't accept cash.

  17. Jake Guest

    So *if* her bag was checked for size/weight on her outbound flight and it was found to be over the limit (as is suggested), would she have just not gone on her holiday or paid the fee?...

  18. Norma Guest

    Not only that, but what diabetic leaves their meds home qnd doesn't take them on holiday...and then acts as if it's qn emergency brought on by uncontrollable circumstances. I also feel for her, but this is part of a larger airline passenger entitlement issue, not a "stranding".

  19. panda Guest

    A €69 bag fee isn’t a reasonable policy.

    1. Samo Guest

      Well, checked bag is much cheaper when pre-booked. This is a fee for gate-checking it.

  20. Cody Guest

    The "liberals" have nothing to do with this. Can't blame the world's problems on just one viewpoint. Ryanair tries hard to lose customers. It should have been a courtesy to allow her to fly. Let her pay the fee upon return if the little bit of money matters that much to them. The bad publicity isn't worth €69 for.

    1. dander Guest

      The problem is that there is a risk that suddenly it would be all over social media on how to game an airline. Bottom line is to know the rules of the airline and don't act surprised when things don't go your way, and don't expect anyone to bend them for you.

    2. Donato Guest

      Get real here. What business survives with a policy of trusting people to pay up later? What a level of international bookkeeping!

    3. tda Guest

      Most restaurants. Credit card companies. Any business that offers credit.

    4. A Consumer Guest

      I don't think that Ryanair will consider this to be bad publicity. Rather, they may regard it as a timely warning to other passengers not to abuse their baggage polucy.

  21. Captain Ayud Guest

    Just another Pensioner with no accountability or personal responsibility.
    Your meds and a charger always with you, period.

    1. Sam Guest

      I'm a liberal I see it that way. Get some perspective & take off the horse blinders. Look up "information bias" & learn something about yourself while you're at it.

  22. SMR Guest

    Why is this absurd? She spent all her money..thats her fault. Flying and going on vacation is a privilege and Ryanair bag policy is clear, she's lucky she got it free going out. She has type 2 and didn't bring her meds?? Airlines need to save their $$ and energy for people who actually have an issue, not one who spent all their money hoping the airline will foot the bill.

  23. G h Guest

    It’s her personal responsibility to bring meds and abide by rules. I have sympathy but she caused her own troubles.

  24. George Romey Guest

    Just another data point how stupid society has become and unfortunately how they've found air travel.

  25. Pamm Guest

    A diabetic must take their medication every single day. She was not a diabetic at all and it was used as a ploy to get on the plane.

    Her story was BS.

    1. grichard Guest

      She was probably taking dulaglutide (Trulicity), which is a once weekly injection for type 2 diabetes.

    2. dander Guest

      I agree unless she takes a once a week shot. I am diabetic and I make sure I have enough meds to get me through a trip plus a cushion in case shit hits the fan

    3. Andrew Diamond

      Only type 1 and very severe type 2 is like that, Pamm.

  26. Pete Diamond

    If the diabetes was so serious why party for 5 days without meds? Then again who doesn’t have DM2?

    1. Aussie Guest

      Anybody who is not a fat American doesn’t have DM2

  27. Stephen Morrissey Guest

    I agree with Frog.
    You should see some of the British characters trying to leave Tenerife with over-sized/over-weight bags, and the stories they have to tell.
    Bloody hell...

  28. Frog Guest

    I have very little sympathy for airlines but I do feel for them when they have to deal with utterly idiotic travellers like this woman.

  29. Hobbs Guest

    How did she afford the new ticket?

  30. Alex Fortune Guest

    Wales Online (and other Reach outlets) is hardly renown for its journalistic quality but you’re right not to go with spare medicine is naive at best.

    1. OPR Member

      "But she had to pay for a flight to Edinburgh because there were no direct flights to Prestwick for another three days."

      I guess the next day her pension was deposited?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

panda Guest

A €69 bag fee isn’t a reasonable policy.

2
grichard Guest

She was probably taking dulaglutide (Trulicity), which is a once weekly injection for type 2 diabetes.

2
Azamaraal Diamond

I am amazed at how snarly most of the responses are. Reminds me of f... talk. If, as stated, this was the same bag she flew out with and if, as stated, the problem was dimensional, then the airline must share some responsibility and should have allowed her to fly home. To allow flight outbound with an oversize but to deny inbound is a bit smelly - like "bait and switch". On outbound she could have downsized or something but once abroad she is captive to the 69 pounds. Bit of a scam here. Being "right" in following the rules one time but not another weakens the argument that the pax was totally to blame. Obviously not the sharpest tack, though. EK did the same thing to me on one of the inaugural flights SYD-DXB. Outbound no problem. Inbound I was "overweight". No problem - purchased another suitcase as had lots of luggage allowance. But the "overweight" was, at most, a few ounces and the cost to the airline to fly an extra bag for free anyway was silly. Added weight to the flight. I now travel with a digital scale, of course.

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