'Ryanair treating passengers like an inconvenience’ - fuming customers travel plans thrown into chaos
A retired sales manager from Northern Ireland has told of his anger after Ryanair cancelled a flight last weekend with less than 24 hours notice - for the second time in two years.
Others with bookings on the budget carrier have also voiced concerns that their travel plans will be thrown into disarray after it announced last-minute plans to scrap up to 50 flights a day until October 31.
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Bangor man Desmond McDowell (70) and his wife Phyllis (66), a former hospital sister, are currently on holiday in France and were expecting their daughters to join them in Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef on Saturday.
But at 8pm on Friday, the budget airline sent a text informing the young professionals, Megan (33) and 28-year-old Hannah, that their flight from Dublin to Nantes around 1pm the following day had been scrapped.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph from their holiday home by the coast yesterday, Mr McDowell blasted Ryanair for a "total disregard for customer service" and for "treating customers like an inconvenience".
"When my daughters contacted me on Friday night we started looking at other flights which were costing between £450 and £1,300," he said.
"Some would have taken around 20 hours to get here and most of them involved a stop-off so that wasn't an option, and we looked at ferries out of Dublin, Rosslare and Cork instead.
"In the end, they drove 240 miles from Bangor to Rosslare where they got a ferry to Cherbourg and arrived on Sunday around 10am before driving another 200 miles to get here."
Ryanair reacted to pressure by last night publishing a full list of the flights it plans to cancel over the next six weeks, after it said it was shelving up to 50 flights daily as a result of "messing up" the planning of pilot holidays.
The cancellations could affect up to 400,000 passengers, who will be offered alternative flights or refunds.
It was reported that recruitment problems were affecting the airline and that it had lost a significant number of pilots to low-cost rival Norwegian Air, something denied by Ryanair.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Mr McDowell has been left in the lurch by Ryanair.
"In 2015 it cost me £1,000 when Ryanair let me down by cancelling flights from Paris at the last minute," he said.
"They only paid out about £160. I didn't have a good impression of the company then and I vowed not to fly with them again.
"After this latest debacle, I certainly won't be recommending Ryanair to anyone."
Meanwhile, hundreds of people are facing an anxious wait to discover whether flights they booked with the airline will be among those cancelled.
Belfast student Matthew Carson, who is currently living in Spain for a year, is concerned about flights he has booked to come home next month.
He is due to travel on October 13 from Madrid to Dublin, and then take a return flight from Dublin to Madrid on October 17.
"I emailed them last night to see if they could tell me, but no response yet," he said. "It's pretty crazy in that, by letting you know only a week beforehand they may not have a suitable alternate flight/booking with another airline. It may end up far more expensive than what I originally paid. If those flights are cancelled I may not have another window to get home until Halloween when flights are generally a bit more expensive."