Women Forced To Donate All Her Personal Belongings After Being Denied Boarding By Ryanair

A woman flying from London Stansted to Alicante, Spain was denied boarding by Ryanair “despite believing she had done all the forms, Covid tests, and other necessary things.”

The woman, who is in cancer remission and trying to clean up her affairs while she can, was traveling to her home in Alicante to clear out her belongings in advance of the property’s sale. Since she wasn’t allowed to fly, she had to find a company who would take away all her personal belongings and donate them.

“That had to be done on Thursday. It was no longer in our control on Friday.

“There were sentimental things in there, from 18 years of life in Spain. They have all gone to a charity shop.

“All I got was photographs from our estate agent.”

The 74 year old was lacked “a letter from the Spanish government approving the trip,” though she believes “her reason for travelling – to finalise the sale of her home – counts as essential, and was not told of the need for the Spanish document by Ryanair.”

She’s Spanish, was flying to Spain, and says she followed the instructions laid out by her airline. Ryanair, for their part, notes that in their email with instructions passengers are also advised “to check the travel advice with the relevant authorities.”

Here’s why I’m sharing this story. It’s one thing to say ‘but those are the rules’ and tough luck for not following them. But the rules are frequently changing (sometimes even while passengers are inflight. Sometimes the local government is the one not applying the rules correctly. And passengers rely on their airline – as governments often do – but airlines don’t always publish all the rules on their website.

Take for instance Hawaii testing requirements, they’ll only accept a negative test from one of their testing partners and they publish a list of partners on their website. Except the American Airlines testing partners aren’t on the website, and they accept those tests, where would a passenger even read that? They can trust American Airlines, and in this case that trumps what the state publishes on its own website.

So I’m not super sympathetic to saying that all passengers should just have to do the research themselves and follow the instructions governments or airlines post on their website, and of course keep checking the rules after ticket purchase too. Rules are changing all the time, they’re confusing, and it’s easy to get tripped up. Beware!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Unfortunately, we never know the entire story in situations like this. In this particular case, could she have gotten an extension on removing here personal items from the property? Or would it have been possible to have the moving company pack and store the items until she was able to fly to Spain?

    Travel can be stressful even without the current pandemic. Rules do change. Often. It’s difficult to even make travel plans and know that we have dotted all of the “i’s”. All I can say is, check often. And even if you don’t think you need it (documents), if you can, get it. For those too lazy to stay on top of the ever changing requirements, get an agent and check in with them often. For awhile, you can be sure that travel agents are going to be earning their commissions.

  2. Out of curiosity, what did TIMATIC say she needed? I’m guessing this is one of those situations where it’s “vague” and you have to know what the actual policy is, but I’ve had plenty of folks that I’ve pointed to TIMATIC over the years to avoid such situations and it has yet to let me down.

    Also, I don’t believe it covers domestic travel (e.g. Hawaii).

  3. Canada is just as cruel. They routinely deem non-essential land travel as “essential” but deem essential travel as “non-essential”.

    By the Canadian standard, they would claim that the Spanish women’s intended travel is non-essential in that she could hire someone to clean up her personal belongings, even if it includes diamond necklaces or if there is something in a safe deposit box.

  4. @David – “She has a Spanish passport but was denied travel to Spain?” The same can happen to an American citizen (with a U.S. passport) if you don’t have a current negative Covid-19 test.

  5. Ryanair is at fault here. Those are most definitely NOT the rules to enter Spain, and never have been. Spanish citizens and Spanish residents have never during the pandemic been refused entry into Spain. I would know: I’m Spanish, live in the UK, have flown twice to Spain during this time, and just so happen to be a lawyer, so am familiar with the rules.

    To make matters worse (if such a thing is even possible), on 24 May, the day this lady was supposed to fly to Spain, the Spanish government lifted all entry requirements for passengers flying in from the UK, regardless of nationality. This means passengers originating in the UK aren’t required to even present a negative PCR test, whether they’re vaccinated or not. And they don’t have to prove or otherwise state any extraordinary reasons to justify entering Spain.

    This change of rules was announced on 19 May and made official on 21 May, so Ryanair can’t even claim an overnight change in the rules.

    Source: http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Consulados/LONDRES/es/COVID19-UK/Paginas/Requisitos-de-entrada-en-Espa%c3%b1a.aspx

    (Gary, please note that the woman who was selling her property isn’t a Spanish national herself, although another passenger due to board that Ryanair flight was, and was also refused boarding. At least that’s what I’ve gleaned from the stories about this incident on several UK newspapers.)

  6. Of course we’re sympathetic to her circumstances. But surely there were alternatives. Recently a tenant of mine, unable to access his property for 12 months, decided to vacate after 10 years. We arranged someone to enter the premises to pack up his belongings, and livestream the process so that he could make decisions about what he wanted to go into storage and what he wanted disposed of. He directed this from Japan and I watched from Australia. It was remarkably easy, relatively cheap and meant he didn’t need to lose anything of sentimental or personal value. I’ve since followed the same procedure for planning some renovation work. The woman in Spain could have used this same technology.

  7. I’m still not understanding why donating everything was the only option??? I’ve never been to Spain… but, I’m assuming Spain has moving companies and storage facilities like here in the US. Am I wrong to assume that?

  8. A good rejoinder to be multitudes who continue to tell us that travel bans are no big deal, and who ignore crises like this — and worse – that they cause every day.

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