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Bad luck or bad customer service - FR STN/LBC/STN

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Bad luck or bad customer service - FR STN/LBC/STN

Old 8th May 2004, 13:03
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Angry Bad luck or bad customer service - FR STN/LBC/STN

Taken from a post I made on another forum:

Now, before anyone accuses me of just good ol' Ryanair-bashing, I must stress that I have always accepted that Ryanair can only sell such cheap flights by cutting out (or charging separately) for certain expensive services and that sometimes things can go wrong (like when they cancelled our flight home from a daytrip from Girona-Stansted in January!) and you need to sort things out yourself. Although it may be annoying, I still accept it. However, it seems this particular trip to/from Lübeck, Germany was doomed from the start and that things just weren't going to be going right.

It all started a week last Thursday (29/04/04) when we took off from STN heading to LBC on a brand-new FR B737-800 in the new livery and with the leather seats, no headrests and the really awful new bright-yellow interior. The take off didn't seem particularly normal, with lots of swaying from side to side, but nonetheless, we did take off. After about 10-15 minutes, when the cabin crew would normally start their trolley service, nothing happened. I didn't take too much notice and fell asleep. After about another 15-20 minutes asleep, I woke up only to see that we were still in the clouds. I asked Stewart if anything had been announced. He said nothing had been. Still no trolley service. I didn't voice my concerns to anyone else, but my mind started racing. I just felt that something was wrong and that this flight wasn't going to plan.

Sure enough, about 5 minutes later, on comes the Captain to announce that due to a technical failure alert, we wouldn't be able to continue to Lübeck and that we were Stansted-bound again. No-one exclaimed loudly on board and all were fairly quiet, but no panic seemed to be arising. My mind was still racing, and my friend reminded me of the unusual take off, which by then I had forgotten about. Anyway the next 15 or so minutes, we waited to find out what was to happen, if anything. When we came out of the clouds, we didn't have too far to go to landing, it seemed. When we got lower and lower, it seemed to us both that we were going way too fast for landing and we looked at each other thinking 'what the **** is going on?'. I'm not even slightly a nervous flyer normally, but this had me a bit worried. Anyway, we landed very hard at STN, by far the hardest landing I've ever experienced and then the brakes were applied and we eventually came to a stop. I had convinced myself that there would be fire engine's present at the landing but I was relieved to see there were in fact none! We parked back at the terminal and we disembarked. When I was getting off the aircraft, there was an engineer standing at the front talking to one of the cabin crew and he had a green power unit/motor-looking-thing in his hand - perhaps about 8-12 inches long and about 6 inches tall and I heard him say to the cabin crew member that it goes in the tail. Anyone any ideas what this may have been? I'm no engineer, I'm afraid!

Anyway, in the end they were transferring the whole flight to another aircraft and we were going to start the LBC flight again. I'm glad to report that the second attempt went without incident and it was a nice flight.

Now, the smarter people among you may have spotted that we flew to Lübeck and may know that Ryanair had problems with Lübeck later on that same day. Yes, unbeknown to us, 3 judges had ruled that Lübeck Airport was to be closed due to some kind of complication to do with the runway repairs or something. This all happened whilst we were in Germany, but we had taken the train from Lübeck and travelled west to Oldenburg where we were to be staying with a friend. We heard nothing of the closure at all and totally without any idea, we turned up at Lübeck Airport last Monday night for our flight home only to find out that it was now leaving from Hamburg, 60 odd km's away! We had an hour until check-in closed in HAM. EUR80 and one hour 5 minutes later, we arrived at HAM where they had kindly kept check-in open for us! I couldn't believe it - we had already had the flight home changed by Ryanair when they moved the departure forward by almost 4 hours and now they had to move it to another airport (admittedly not through any choice of theirs). What angered me is that when you book with Ryanair, they ask you for several different contact details including telephone numbers, but all that had been sent to inform us was an email that wasn't read - I was already on holiday! I think it would have only been right for them to call those people whose journeys had started but had not yet been completed to make sure that they were aware of these rather decent sized changes. Does anyone agree? The REALLY annoying thing was that to get to Lübeck, we had to change trains in Hamburg and because the flight time had been changed on the return sector, we weren't going to be able to spend the few hours in Hamburg we had hoped for as we had to get to Lübeck earlier!! As it turned out HAM would have been better for us all round, IF someone had have told us about it!! Still, we got back on time in the end, thankfully! Is there any point in even complaining to FR about this? Will they care or listen? Will I be reimbursed my €80?

Here's another laugh for you. When we booked a daytrip with FR to LBC last May, we found out the day before that our return sector time had been brought forward by about 6 hours too and as a result, we had to cancel the trip altogether as the daytrip would have been about 3 hours long!! Alas, the daytrip to LBC in January that we did eventually get to go on went smoothly, so we have at least seen it once stress-free.

If anyone plans to book LBC flights with FR - I hope you have better luck than we've had on this route!!
dundoniandean is offline  
Old 10th May 2004, 10:01
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dundoniandean: When we came out of the clouds, we didn't have too far to go to landing, it seemed. When we got lower and lower, it seemed to us both that we were going way too fast for landing and we looked at each other thinking 'what the **** is going on?'. I'm not even slightly a nervous flyer normally, but this had me a bit worried. Anyway, we landed very hard at STN, by far the hardest landing I've ever experienced and then the brakes were applied and we eventually came to a stop.
Just one idea about this - as you'd returned to STN quite soon after takeoff, the aircraft would probably still have been quite heavy with the fuel that would otherwise have been burnt on the sector. Heavier aircraft = higher landing speeds, all other things being equal, and then you'd have to use the brakes harder as well. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Also, the exact failure might have had an effect as well - for example, if you'd had to use less than normal landing flap, that also makes for a higher landing speed, even though all these things are documented, practised, and standard abnormal procedures.

Some trips are just not meant to be! At least it sounds like you book with FR with your eyes wide open.
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Old 10th May 2004, 19:55
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Thanks for the explanation Globaliser. I suppose that it makes sense now that a plane needs to go faster when it's heavy with fuel and coming in to land. It just took us by surprise, I suppose!

The only way to fly Ryanair is with your eyes jammed wide open with big matchsticks - otherwise, you might just get a little bit (like, massively!) peeved!
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Old 10th May 2004, 23:06
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Post

Also a related weight issue, is that a lighter aircraft actually doesn't want to slow down or decend as fast as a heavier aircraft. I have forgotten the reason why, but I'm sure somebody here will explain!
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Old 11th May 2004, 07:14
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OP1 - you ?MIGHT? be interested in THIS thread on descent rates.
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Old 12th May 2004, 00:15
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we had already had the flight home changed by Ryanair when they moved the departure forward by almost 4 hours and now they had to move it to another airport (admittedly not through any choice of theirs). What angered me is that when you book with Ryanair, they ask you for several different contact details including telephone numbers, but all that had been sent to inform us was an email that wasn't read - I was already on holiday! I think it would have only been right for them to call those people whose journeys had started but had not yet been completed to make sure that they were aware of these rather decent sized changes. Does anyone agree?
Once again another read the Terms and Conditions.

Ryanair are a point to point airline.

From A to B , not back to A again.

You booked from B to A as well.

You book your journey single sector and not for a return trip. They clearly state it is your responsibility to check the times do not change and this information can be easily found by checking your e-mail or calling the Ticket Desk of the departure airport.

Sorry but I don't agree Ryanair should phone people and tell them the flight details have changed. When they clearly state in their terms and conditions they won't do that.

It's an extra cost.

Most airlines would not phone and advice passengers of a time change, not just Ryanair.

Here's another laugh for you. When we booked a daytrip with FR to LBC last May, we found out the day before that our return sector time had been brought forward by about 6 hours too and as a result, we had to cancel the trip altogether as the daytrip would have been about 3 hours long!!
Risk you take when you book two single
Sector flights. The carrier does not know your plans. The responsibility is to get you from A to B.

Basically another example of passenger expectations not matching the product offered and clearly stated.
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Old 12th May 2004, 09:19
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jonathang: Most airlines would not phone and advice passengers of a time change, not just Ryanair.
In my experience, this is not true. Most airlines will try to contact you in the event of a major schedule change, if they have your contact details. The last time I was contacted by an airline (BA), it was to tell me that my flight was going to leave 15 minutes earlier than previously notified. Many friends who fly on US domestic flights, where schedule changes are much more frequent, have similar experiences.
Risk you take when you book two single Sector flights. The carrier does not know your plans. The responsibility is to get you from A to B.
This is also just not true if you have booked both sectors on the same PNR. FR would have known perfectly well that it was intended to be a day trip. But it sounds like they did the right thing by allowing the trip to be cancelled.

FR did the same for me on the one and only time I have booked with them - ironically a day trip taken just to see what the "Ryanair experience" was all about. The outbound flight was delayed and delayed and delayed. The aircraft for the return flight was not - I could see that it was boarding and ready to depart on time. I called FR who could immediately see that if I waited for my outbound flight to finally depart I would definitely miss the return flight, so they canx the res at that stage and gave me a full refund. That was also the right thing, and it confirmed to me that I shouldn't clamour to fly FR again.
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Old 12th May 2004, 10:01
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In my experience, this is not true.
In mine it is when these passengers arrive uninformed of their flights change of schedule etc.

FR did the same for me on the one and only time I have booked with them - ironically a day trip taken just to see what the "Ryanair experience" was all about. The outbound flight was delayed and delayed and delayed. The aircraft for the return flight was not - I could see that it was boarding and ready to depart on time. I called FR who could immediately see that if I waited for my outbound flight to finally depart I would definitely miss the return flight, so they canx the res at that stage and gave me a full refund. That was also the right thing, and it confirmed to me that I shouldn't clamour to fly FR again.
That was an unsual decision for them to make. From my own experience we have offered refunds to passengers on the single outward jounrney of their return flight , however ryanair would argue that return single sector flight is still valid and can be used without the outbound flight.

. FR would have known perfectly well that it was intended to be a day trip.
Looking at the booking I would agree, this is what it would look like to me , still does not change the fact they have no legal requirement to get you to your destination before returning you when the passenger chooses to book flights so close together.

Ryanair : Ryanair is strictly a “point to point” airline. We therefore do not offer, and cannot facilitate, transfer of passengers or their baggage to other flights, whether operated by Ryanair or other carriers. We recommend that passengers do not book onward flights on Ryanair services. Ryanair assumes no responsibility for making connections and therefore will not be liable for any losses or expenses arising out of any failure to achieve a planned connection.
Ryanair : E-mail contact will be made to the e-mail address provided at the point of reservation in respect of any schedule change or advance cancellation to flight itineraries. If you have not provided Ryanair with a valid e-mail address, you should reconfirm your outward/return flight timings between 24 and 72 hours prior to departure.
Ryanair : Carrier undertakes to use its best efforts to carry the passenger and baggage with reasonable dispatch but times shown on the ticket, in timetables or elsewhere are not guaranteed and form no part of this contract. Carrier may without notice substitute alternate carriers or aircraft or may alter or omit stopping places shown on the ticket in case of necessity. Schedules are subject to change without notice. Carrier assumes no responsibility for making connections.
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Old 12th May 2004, 12:00
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A simple story this but it was instructive. A three day trip to Dublin, so used LTN as my local field and FR. Outbound was fine, although CC a little surly.

The return ... got to DUB to find the desk closing. I enquired why the desk was closing an hour before the flight. I was told (with impolite tones) that the flight was departing in half an hour and that I should have known. I advised this lovely person that I had checked with the FR website the day before and checked the departure time was as originally listed. Since I booked online with FR, they had my email and mobile number but had not advised me of the change. She then allowed me to check in. I ran to the gate where boarding had started.

If I had been denied boarding, you can imagine how easy it would have been for me to prove that RF were in error. Whatever other flight I might have caught, I would have been late for a friend to pick me up for a conference and the extra costs would have been unavoidable and irrecoverable.

No more FR for me, I shall pay more money up front and be a little more sure of getting better service. It is that simple. RyanAir will continue to make a lot of money and have many satisfied customers. They greatest risk is what happens when MoL leaves.
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Old 12th May 2004, 12:46
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jonathang: In mine it is when these passengers arrive uninformed of their flights change of schedule etc.
Can you let us know which airlines you're referring to? And did the airlines actually have the pax contact details? (You can't blame an airline for not contacting people they don't have contact details for.)
That was an unsual decision for them to make. From my own experience we have offered refunds to passengers on the single outward jounrney of their return flight, however ryanair would argue that return single sector flight is still valid and can be used without the outbound flight.
All I can say is that I would be astonished if that had happened to me. How I could have used the return flight on the same PNR as the delayed outbound flight for which I had already checked in, is quite beyond my comprehension. It's a good thing that the call centre saw sense that day and did not try to pick a fight with this lawyer over this issue!
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Old 12th May 2004, 15:06
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Can you let us know which airlines you're referring to? And did the airlines actually have the pax contact details? (You can't blame an airline for not contacting people they don't have contact details for.)
Various airlines not naming and shaming them however the worse ones are the charter airlines.

It's a good thing that the call centre saw sense that day and did not try to pick a fight with this lawyer over this issue!
Yes, I agree it is good customer service they made that decision. I am not trying to defend that all of Ryanair's practices are good for Customer Service , just trying to make the point that they clearly tell the passengers what they should expect.

Question for you as a lawyer.

If the call centre had argued that the flights were valid.
You booked to get from A to B and then B back to A.
The fact you required X number of hours at B was not part of the contract.
When booking you agreed to their Terms and Conditions.

How would you fight that ?
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Old 12th May 2004, 16:44
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jonathang:
Question for you as a lawyer.

If the call centre had argued that the flights were valid.
You booked to get from A to B and then B back to A.
The fact you required X number of hours at B was not part of the contract.
When booking you agreed to their Terms and Conditions.

How would you fight that ?
It would go something like this: Although you say that you're a point-to-point airline assuming no responsibilities for onward flights, connections or transfers, there is a difference between a journey from A to B using transfers, and return/round-trip travel A->B->A. You specifically sell round-trip travel, and such a round trip is booked all at once on the same PNR. It isn't booked as two one-way trips. That's a specific decision which you have made; you could have taken your one-way tickets-only policy to extremes by never selling round-trip travel as such.

If you sell round-trip travel, you know that the only way that the pax is getting to B to start the second sector, B->A, is by flying on the first sector A->B. It is therefore implicit in a round-trip ticket that B->A will follow A->B. Nothing in the terms and conditions prevents that being implicit in the ticket; the ambiguous language about "onward flights", "connections" and "transfers" will be read by the court in the pax's favour and against you, to refer only to excluding your liability for missed connections in the course of travel from A->B involving transfers. This is in accordance with well-established principles of legal interpretation, because this is an attempt by you to limit your liability.

Therefore, as it's implicit in the ticket that B->A will follow A->B, you must accept responsibility for ensuring that the pax can make a round trip A->B->A, or else you must remedy the fact that he holds a useless ticket. You actually acknowledge that yourself, because your website imposes a compulsory minimum stay of 90 minutes between the A->B and B->A sectors when you book a round-trip.

Furthermore, if contrary to the above you do establish that your terms and conditions mean that you can sell a round-trip ticket, then delay the pax on the A->B sector so much that he misses the second B->A sector, but still have no liability to him for the second sector because he has missed that flight through the first sector being delayed, then the exclusion of liability is an unfair contract term and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 will render the term ineffective.

("You" obviously means FR, not jonathang!)

As I can do that off the top of my head without looking at any books, just imagine what a fight FR would have had if I had really had to get stuck into the problem.
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Old 12th May 2004, 19:42
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Go! Gloabaliser Go! Let's see if we can find the man a real case to fight FR with.
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Old 12th May 2004, 20:14
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I can see how you are approaching this but what about this case.

When we booked a daytrip with FR to LBC last May, we found out the day before that our return sector time had been brought forward by about 6 hours too and as a result, we had to cancel the trip altogether as the daytrip would have been about 3 hours long!!
The carrier has not breeched any terms and conditions got you from A to B back to A again. In this case I know Ryanair would not normally offer a refund. Can also understand why passengers would be annoyed. However I know that there is a risk when I book a same day return when I am told that the times are subject to change.

Nothing specifies the time the carrier must keep you at your destination.

I would not expect a refund in this case however there are passengers who would expect a refund.


Warsaw Convention : Article 19 - Delay
The carrier is liable for damage occasioned by delay in the carriage by air of passengers, baggage or cargo. Nevertheless, the carrier shall not be liable for damage occasioned by delay if it proves that it and its servants and agents took all measures that could reasonably be required to avoid the damage or that it was impossible for it or them to take such measures.

Can argue many delays against that , tech, ATC, weather and crew sickness.

Last edited by jonathang; 12th May 2004 at 20:24.
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Old 12th May 2004, 21:38
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jonathang:
I can see how you are approaching this but what about this case.

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When we booked a daytrip with FR to LBC last May, we found out the day before that our return sector time had been brought forward by about 6 hours too and as a result, we had to cancel the trip altogether as the daytrip would have been about 3 hours long!!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The carrier has not breeched any terms and conditions got you from A to B back to A again. In this case I know Ryanair would not normally offer a refund. Can also understand why passengers would be annoyed. However I know that there is a risk when I book a same day return when I am told that the times are subject to change.

Nothing specifies the time the carrier must keep you at your destination.

I would not expect a refund in this case however there are passengers who would expect a refund.
This is definitely a more difficult case. I don't know the frequency to LBC - is it one a day or two a day, or more than that? A schedule change after a trip is booked is a deliberate act by the airline, not comparable to unplanned delays for wx, tech etc. If a pax has booked round-trip travel in reliance on having roughly a certain amount of time at the destination, and then the airline (with the knowledge via a single PNR) deliberately alters its schedule so as to frustrate the trip by effectively telling the pax that all he can do is fly there and fly back again, my gut feeling is that there is a case in there.

The interpretation of contracts, like the rest of law, is less of a science than an art. The courts have always allowed themselves some leeway to ensure that justice is done even in cases where one party to a contract could abuse the black-and-white letter of the contract to take advantage of the other party. Experienced lawyers get a feel for where a judge is likely to think that justice lies; judges always do their utmost to secure what they think is the just result if they can.

So in this greyer case, my instinct is that FR was also right to avoid the potential for a messy legal fight by giving what was also good customer service/customer relations - namely a refund for a trip that had become largely pointless.
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Old 12th May 2004, 21:48
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Thanks for the reply to that. I agree that they made the correct decision doing the right thing in this case, but this isn't always the decision they make.

A schedule change after a trip is booked is a deliberate act by the airline
I agree in some cases carriers use the aircraft somewhere else for example , and bend the truth. But many of these delays are out with their control.
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