Ryanair and British Airways (BA) have come under fire after Ukrainian refugees fleeing from the horrors of Russia’s war were reportedly turned away.
The low-cost carrier denied accusations it had turned people down because they could not access their boarding passes and threatened them with £50 fees if they couldn’t print their tickets.
According to the Times, 30-year old Vera Muminova – alongside husband Azamat and their two-year old daughter – left Kiev last week and travelled to Krakow to become a refugee in the UK under the government Homes for Ukraine scheme.
Once arrived at the airport, the Muminovs said, Ryanair staff demanded they paid £50 boarding pass reissuing fee, forcing the family to miss their plane once it was clear they could not afford the amount.
“I can’t believe they’ve been treated like this. This is not an isolated case,” said Michelina Primrose, the Muminovs’ UK sponsor.
“Why couldn’t they waiver or print their tickets, instead of making them feel stupid and like they were criminals like they did? They carried on as if it was too much hassle.”
The carrier rebutted that the family was not charged the amount in question.
“At no stage was Mr Muminov or his family requested to pay a €60 boarding card re-issue fee,” said a company spokesperson. “They were re-accommodated on a later flight on the same day from Krakow to Stansted on three tickets which cost less than £95 each.
“Ryanair will be happy to refund Mr Muminov or Mr. Primrose the 1,600 Polish Zloty (approx £285) they paid for their later flights from Krakow to Stansted.”
Ryanair also said the Muminovs lost their flight because of the time it took to verify Muminov’s passport, who has a Turkmen passport but is a Ukrainian citizen and was granted a UK refugee visa according to the Times.
The Muminovs are not the only ones who complained about Ryanair.
A 15-year-old Ukrainian boy was not allowed to board a Ryanair flight because he was an unaccompanied minor, even though he had a UK visa and documents signed by his parents attesting he could travel alone.
His aunt, who lives in Leicestershire, booked him another flight on Wizz Air, which allows minors to travel alone, the Times reported.
BA, on the other hand, apologised today after it didn’t allow a family of three – grandmother, mother and daughter – to board despite them having the correct documents, the Guardian reported.
68-year-old Vira Rybalchenko – who was travelling alongside her 37-year-old daughter Hanna Zakhovaieva and eight-year-old granddaughter Sofiia –was told by BA staff she couldn’t board without her original passport, despite being reassured by the British embassy of the contrary.
The airline, after being contacted by the Guardian, issued an apology to the family, who is now safe in the UK after boarding another flight.
“We’re very sorry for the genuine error made by our team when trying to follow Home Office guidance and we’ve put measures in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” BA said.
“We’re making contact with the family to apologise and will be providing a full refund of their tickets.”