Ryanair came under renewed criticism today from a leading consumer rights activist for refusing to refund customers who were allegedly charged fees in error.
Hundreds of customers were required to pay a £115 name change surcharge due to a "glitch" on Ryanair's website which caused incorrect surnames to be recorded on passenger bookings, according to consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE).
Affected passengers have told MSE they entered correct names.
Martin Lewis, founder of MSE, has written to Michael O'Leary, calling on the Ryanair chief executive to deliver on his promise to make Ryanair "a nicer airline" by ensuring that affected customers are not left out of pocket and by preventing the problem from reoccurring.
Lewis argued that MSE has tried to engage with Ryanair on the issue but said the airline has denied there is any problem and has refused to refund customers "for what appears to be its own mistake".
In his letter, which he described as a "last resort", Lewis described the airline's response to date as "flaccid", adding that Ryanair appeared to have a "blasé attitude" towards the customers affected.
A dossier of over 160 Ryanair passengers hit by the problem was also presented by Lewis to Ryanair and its regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority. MSE said it had received 268 complaints in total.
"I am sure you will be shocked to hear this is happening – and will want to rectify it – rather than waiting for regulatory engagement," wrote Lewis.
Some customers had already paid the charge while others were forced to book new flights as this was the cheaper option, he said.
According to Lewis, the problem has affected bookings for two or more passengers with different surnames.
The Irish carrier was ranked as the worst airline for the sixth consecutive year in a consumer satisfaction survey by Which earlier this month, with the consumer group raising concerns over hidden costs.
Passengers also criticised boarding procedures, seat comfort and the cabin environment.
Ryanair did not respond to a request for comment.