A full-time dad has been left angry after claiming an airline and a travel agent ruined his all-inclusive holiday to Spain when he was slapped with extra charges he had no idea about. Nathan Catton was on his way home from a £1,400 holiday of a lifetime with three other passengers when the incident occurred.
Mr Catton, aged 27 and from Leeds, had booked the trip with online travel agent On The Beach, which included return flights with Ryanair, a stay at a four-star hotel in Spain and bus transfers. However, he and his travelling companions were astonished when they found there was a £30 charge for each of the four passengers to check-in for the return flight, something which they claimed they had not been told of.
Furthermore, the group were charged another £38 charge to check-in their bags because they had not booked priority boarding tickets. In total, the group had to shell out £68 each, making a total extra cost of more than £270. You can get the latest WalesOnline newsletters e-mailed to you directly for free by signing up here.
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Needless to say, Mr Catton and the rest of the group were not happy. “The holiday was brilliant and we had no problems when flying from Manchester to Palma,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “But when we went to check-in at Palma airport on our flight back, we arrived over two hours before our flight, only to be told, ‘you have got six minutes to check-in’.
“They couldn’t find my booking. The woman at the check-in desk tried to help, but my email address that I had used to book everything with (online travel agent) On The Beach, didn’t work. It kept saying there was no booking available.
“Then the airport staff charged all four of us £30 each to check-in. We were absolutely fuming. We didn’t have to pay that at Manchester. It’s a lot of money to pay. We didn’t have any spare cash, so my friend had to pay on her credit card. We are still trying to pay that back. I’m a full-time dad, so any money I lose is less money for my son.”
“We had to pay extra just to take our bags on the flight. So we paid hundreds of pounds for the four of us just to get back to Manchester. The Palma airport staff said they couldn’t do anything about it and that is just the rule. It was hard to communicate with them about it because they were Spanish, so there was a language barrier.
“All of us were stressed out. None of us had our bags with us because they got taken off us and put under the plane with the big bags. I don’t understand why Ryanair seem to have this impression that people can go on holiday for a few days with just a handbag or just a backpack.” Read here about how travellers were forced to queue outside for security at Bristol Airport.
Mr Catton believes information about such charges should be more transparent, and that the same rules should apply to different airports in different countries. “It was literally when we got to the airport in Spain and we basically got told, ‘if you don’t pay, you are not allowed your bags on the flight’, he said. “It was the same with the check-in. They said ‘if you don’t pay the £30 for the check-in, you can’t get on the flight. You’ll have to book another flight.’
“They need to stick to one rule at every airport. They can’t have one rule at one airport and one rule at another. I would much rather they told us when we were flying out at Manchester Airport, rather than be forced to pay money to get my own clothes back to England.”
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Ryanair has responded to the furore by saying that holidaymakers should not book flights with travel agents who are “unauthorised”. A spokesperson for the airline said: “The issues these passengers encountered is a direct result of having booked their flights through an unauthorised online travel agent (OTA). Ryanair has no commercial relationship with any OTA’s and in this instance, the OTA failed to advise the passenger of Ryanair’s online check-in and baggage policies, resulting in them being correctly charged an airport check-in fee of £30 per passenger at Palma airport and a gate bag fee of £38.
“Ryanair urges customers to always book directly, as OTAs may provide Ryanair with incorrect email addresses, contact and payment details, which block Ryanair from communicating directly with the customer to share essential flight information and updates, including check-in prompts, potential departure time changes, delays, cancellations, and refund updates.”
However, travel agent On the Beach hit back, saying that it “strongly rejected any suggestion that we provide false or misleading information to Ryanair or to our customers”. A spokesman for the online travel agent added: “Our communication with Mr Catton provided all of the flight information needed to check-in online including reference number, unique email address and baggage allowance.
“We also advised that failure to check-in online could result in airport check-in fees. We’re sorry to learn that Mr Catton incurred these charges, but this unfortunate incident is a direct consequence of Ryanair’s aggressive anti-competitive campaign against travel agents and their customers, who are being punished and treated as second-class citizens for choosing us over booking directly through Ryanair.
“Millions of customers choose to book with On The Beach every year without any difficulty because we offer choice, convenience, competitive pricing and protection by ATOL and the Package Travel Regulations – something that cannot be offered when booking flights alone. As package organisers, we have a responsibility to manage all elements of a package holiday for our customers. In contrast, Ryanair continues to impose onerous conditions on its customers, charging additional fees and causing confusion. It is critical that they put an end to this unfair and anti-competitive behaviour”.
A spokesperson from Ryanair replied: “Like any business, Ryanair is entitled to determine its own distribution model. Ryanair has decided to deal directly with its customers, and not intermediaries who seek to freeride on Ryanair’s innovation and investment in many cases just to impose inordinate intermediary mark-ups on air fares.
“This innovation allows Ryanair to ensure flight safety, security, and public protocols are complied with, while providing the best choice, care, and lowest fares to its customers. We would ask On the Beach to respect Ryanair’s distribution policy and also its own customers (who no doubt understandably assume that a business holding itself out as a package organiser has commercial agreements in place with its suppliers) by ceasing to sell Ryanair flights.”