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September 07, 2021

Tell us your most frustrating run-in with an airline

If you’ve followed this space, you’ve noticed an interest in Ryanair, the airline with the crazy fees, the progressive ideas.

In fact, call it a distanced interest, because for all the headlines the budget Euro airline makes this side of the Atlantic, it doesn’t even sniff North American airspace.

Whatever the case, the spirit of Ryanair’s peculiar practices, at least in the rationale of company CEO Michael O’Leary, is to lower base fares for travellers. So, doing something as outwardly preposterous as removing one pilot from each flight seems wild, and indeed it is, but the idea is that Ryanair’s going to pass the savings onto you.

And perhaps it does. But a recent scandal between O’Leary and a customer has shown the airline’s nasty side, perhaps proving Ryanair abides a little too closely by its frugal affairs.

First off, a primer.

Ryanair, like many airlines today, charges a fee if you don’t print your boarding pass at home, a campaign, one might guess, against the planet’s great ink and toner cartels.

*Bing: How to find cheap airfare

But Ryanair’s fees are nothing if not incredible. If you forget to print your boarding pass for a Ryanair flight, it’s going to cost you 60 euros ($75) per passenger to get on the plane.

Fine, you say. A tough rule, but if it’s gotta be so then travellers will just have to plan ahead.

Only, there’s nothing in the Ryanair fine print about boarding passes being presented as a PDF on smartphones, and one woman recently got into a spat with O’Leary about the miscommunication.

A traveller named Suzy McLeod was charged the 60 euro fee for her and her family – a total charge of 300 euros, or $375, for not having her boarding passes printed on a physical piece of paper.

She took to her Facebook. “I had previously checked in online but because I hadn’t printed out the boarding passes, Ryanair charged me 60 euros per person! Meaning I had to pay 300 euros for them to print out a piece of paper! Please ‘like’ if you think that’s unfair.”

Well, more than a half million people ‘liked’ McLeod’s story, but O’Leary wasn’t budging. To reporters, the Ryanair CEO called McLeod “stupid” for botching the rules and vehemently denied the airline would refund her fees.

Certainly, McLeod is at fault, at least a little, but could Ryanair be adhering to its money-saving principles a little too closely?

What is your most frustrating run-in with an airline? How did it play out?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...