When airlines cancelled flights at the start of the pandemic, many of them kept customer money. Generally American Airlines and Delta provided refunds, while United did not. United knew they were acting illegally but was more concerned with conserving cash and staying out of bankruptcy, willing to risk Department of Transportation fines. Eventually even they – and other U.S. airlines like JetBlue – relented under government pressure.
The European Union was similarly clear that when an airline cancels a flight, they cannot keep the money for that flight. Nonetheless, EU regulators did nothing about it. Although 18 months later European airlines have agreed to refund customers. Ryanair is one of these airlines.
Many customers took it upon themselves to seek help when airlines refused refunds. Some credit card companies were more helpful than others. American Express, apparently, was most likely to process chargebacks against Ryanair. After all, you cannot keep money for services that haven’t been delivered.
It appears though that Ryanair banned passengers who got their refunds via credit card chargeback.
- They didn’t tell the customers about the ban
- Many customers bought new tickets now that they’re flying again
- And the airline is insisting they pay back the refunds before being allowed to fly
Ryanair agrees, via EU settlement, that customers whose money they held for a year and a half for cancelled flights are due their refunds. However, it seems, some chargebacks were for refunds when the flight actually took off. And Ryanair defends itself saying they’re a no-refunds airline period.
The airline refused to refund affected passengers unable to travel, leading many to successfully seek chargebacks from their credit card company, in particular American Express.
Three of those passengers, who went on to make new bookings with Ryanair to travel this year, have been told they can only fly Ryanair again if they return the sum reclaimed. One passenger was given this ultimatum just hours before they were due to fly.
When air berlin went bankrupt, the bankruptcy trustee actually took customers who had succeeded with chargebacks to collections arguing that under German law passengers with unused tickets are really unsecured creditors. They were not really in a position to collect.
Here Ryanair is waiting until passengers are about to travel, and other non-refundable payments for accommodations, to pressure them to pay back refunds received via chargeback.