Passengers to sue Ryanair over missed flightsAirline faces legal move following airport delays

07 November 2006

A plane in the sky

Ryanair passengers who missed their flights because of long airport queues are taking legal action after the airline made them forfeit their tickets.

In just one week in September, more than 150 Ryanair passengers missed their flights from Stansted because of this problem, and that toll has continued to rise.

We've heard from three passengers who missed different flights between September and October – a month after the introduction of extra security measures brought in at UK airports because of an alleged terrorist plot.

All three argue that Ryanair should have provided more check-in desks and opened them earlier while security queues were longer than normal following the tighter checks introduced in August.

Long queues

BAA, which owns and operates seven UK airports, says that more people have missed flights at Stansted because of this problem than at any other UK airport.  

Pregnant Lucy Coles, 36, is set to take legal action against Ryanair. She’s arguing that the airline didn't provide 'reasonable skill and care' in its service and it could have opened check-in desks 30 minutes earlier.

Lucy missed her flight to Bergerac in September. She said: ‘The check-in opened at 5.20pm and it was very slow, as only two desks were open for our flight, and because people kept pushing in. We pointed this out to a Ryanair employee, but nothing was done. We then queued to get through security. This took some time because of the additional security checks - and no-one was allowed to queue jump, regardless of what time their flight left.’

Ruined holiday

By the time Lucy and her husband reached the gate it was closed. Their luggage was taken off the plane. Ryanair refused to put them on another flight, and they lost £654 - the cost of the flights plus hotel and car hire deposits.

Ryanair told us: ‘Check-in desk opening at two hours prior to departure is more than sufficient as long as check-in has been completed by 40 minutes prior to departure as it was in this case.'

Ryanair has publicly blamed BAA. A spokesman said: 'Ryanair apologises to all of our passengers for the continuing security delays at Stansted which have been caused by the failure of BAA, who run Stansted Airport, to fully staff their security points through peak periods.’

Stansted staff

In response to Ryanair’s criticism BAA said: ‘BAA doesn't accept failure at Stansted Airport. We accept that queues are longer then we would want but we have sufficient staff and equipment to get passengers through in good time to get flights.

‘We think Stansted and Ryanair should work together to deliver better service for customers rather than engaging in a war of words.’

Meanwhile, rival no-frills airline EasyJet which has a smaller operation than Ryanair at Stansted, says its passengers have been leaving as normal. It said it has always supported the efforts of BAA through the continued enhanced security measures.

Both EasyJet and British Airways told Which? that if passengers missed their flight because of security check delays, they'd be put on another flight at no extra charge.