The Ryanair experience was not one I would recommend to anyone who is of a nervous disposition, suffers with blood pressure, heart problems, or has a tendency towards anger and frustration when faced with unreasonable circumstances.
In May 2015 my daughter and I had decided to treat ourselves to a holiday in Barcelona taking in the wonderful sights of the City and surrounding area. As my daughter is a Travel Consultant we rarely do package holidays but prefer to book our own flights and accommodation.
Firstly we choose our desired destination and nearest airport that will take us there. The airline is usually selected as being whichever one is flying from our choice of airport to our choice of destination. Unfortunately in this instance it was Ryanair.
Neither of us had ever undertaken the Ryanair experience before although we had used other budget airlines. Naturally we had heard and read the negative comments about the cheap fares and then the high cost of every other service you wish to choose.
The price of £50 to book a suitcase into the Hold was a bit of a shock so we opted to book one medium size suitcase in and take one smaller one as hand luggage.
We did this because we both wanted to take our own sun tan lotions and body creams that we know and trust. Going shopping for essentials on arrival at a holiday destination is not my idea of fun.
The Ryanair experience requests you do everything on line which I always think is a bit of con as you end up using your paper and ink on the printer to print all the paperwork you need.
However their seems no choice and one hopes that it will make the checking in experience quicker.
On arrival at Birmingham Airport we joined the longest queue ever which appeared to be booking other Ryanair flights as well as ours to Barcelona.
Apart from the unusually long process of checking in which one would assume would be faster if everyone has had to book on line, everything went according to plan. Our suitcase was checked into the hold and we proceeded through security with hand luggage.
When our Gate was called for departure passengers who had hand luggage were being asked to put it in the hold as there was too many people with luggage for the overhead luggage compartments.
So those who hadn't paid were now being offered the service free of charge. More fool us for opting to pay £50. However the flight was uneventful and we arrived safely at our destination with both suitcases.
After enjoying a wonderful holiday we arrived at Barcelona Airport at 10.15 a.m. for a scheduled take off time of 12.35 we duly joined a considerably long check in queue yet again.
After queuing for approximately an hour and with just a few passengers in front of us everything suddenly ground to a halt.
We were advised the check in had to close with still an hour or so before take off and we were instructed to proceed upstairs as a matter of urgency where our baggage would be checked in at the Gate.
We could see no reason why this happened but did as we were told following other fellow passengers assuming arrangements had been made to get us through security.
On arrival at the security desk the suitcase that we had paid Ryanair to have checked in and placed in the hold with various lotions and potions together with a bottle opener was put through the scanners and consequently rejected because we had items in there that were considered a security threat.
We tried to explain to Security staff what had happened and the reason for this but we were made to feel like criminals who were trying to do something illegal.
We were instructed to open our suitcase and remove the offending items the cost of which to replace would be in the region of just under £100. This was with no expensive perfumes or alcohol just everyday medium range beauty products for two people
As a rather mature baby boomer I did not envisage that I would have to grovel on the floor of security at my age.
Picture the scene, my daughter with the contents of a very large handbag tipped out while she searches for the elusive suitcase keys.
Me crouched by my suitcase contents strewn over the floor being gawped at by fellow passengers who were forced to negotiate their way around us, and the security staff shouting at us to remove the offending objects.
By the time we had cleared security my mouth was dry, my heart pounding, I had been reduced to a dithering wreck.
To add to our discomfort it had all taken so long to clear security our Gate had been called, leaving us no time to calm down, get a drink , a large gin and tonic for medicinal purposes you understand, would have been good at that stage.
No time to browse the Duty Free Shops to buy the things that we had planned. In fact no time at all to do the things that we usually enjoy to do at the airport as part of the holiday experience.
On arrival at the Gate still lugging a suitcase I had paid £25 to be checked into the Hold down in check-in, I expressed my anger and frustration with the Ryanair staff.
I demanded evidence of what had happened because I would be making a claim for reimbursement of my return check in fee of £25 plus reimbursement costs of the items we had been instructed to ditch.
So far as I can see we complied with all the rules:
If a company is charging for a service that it does not deliver at the point of use then I would suggest this is fraud.
In all my years of travelling I have never experienced anything quite like "The Ryanair Experience" and sincerely hope I never do again.
Unfortunately our holiday in Barcelona will always be remembered not for the fantastic holiday but the unfortunate Ryanair experience.
I'd like to think one day we will look back and laugh about it but firstly I would like a response to my complaint.
On our return I promptly sent off my letter of complaint outlining my Ryanair experience and its failures. I enclosed the relevant evidence of the paperwork to back it up setting out the circumstances of the event and what I was expecting in re-imbursement.
The letter was sent by recorded post at a further cost of £6.00. requesting a response within 14 days. That was a month ago.
I have since sent a copy of the letter via the Ryanair Website and received an e-mail advising that the matter has been sent to their Head Office.
Let's hope Michael O'Leary's new customer charter which outlines "the way we want to deliver an enjoyable, simple and low-cost travel experience to customers.” where he states the airline would be “judged on how we live by this charter”, which will be given to customers.
It promises not only to offer the lowest fares and most reliable flights in Europe but to be transparent, to communicate, and respond to complaints.
I'm waiting Mr. O'Leary for a response to my complaint together with an apology and a cheque for the service I paid for and didn't receive and the replacement value of the products I was forced to abandon.
Reading many other complaints on line of fellow travellers it seems our Ryanair experience is shared by many.
Consequently my advice to other travellers would be don't choose "the Ryanair Experience" if you value your health and sanity.
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