December 9 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Ryanair has apologised to a Norwich man after it refused to refund his mother’s ticket because it said she had died too soon before her flight
Beryl Parsons, 78, was due to fly to the Canary Islands with her son and grandchildren for a holiday in October.
But in June, four months before the flight, she was unexpectedly told she only had three weeks to live and died.
Her son, Doug Parsons, 44, a Norwich accountant, wrote to the budget airline to ask for a refund for his mother’s £230 share of the £1,074 airfares from Stansted to Fuerteventura and included a copy of her death certificate.
But it refused because it said Mrs Parsons, who had cancer, had died more than 28 days before the booked flight.
Mr Parsons had wanted to take a last holiday with his mother, partner Lisa, 32, and children Tanya, 11, and Cameron, seven, after she was diagnosed with cancer.
They planned to go away at Christmas, but she was too ill so they did not book.
When her health appeared to improve in April - after she had a tumour removed from her womb - they booked the Ryanair flights to the Canary Islands. But in June she was unexpectedly told the cancer had spread and was terminal.
Mr Parsons said his mother had been desperately looking forward to the holiday with her family.
He said: “We were going to stay in the same villa where I had taken mum five years ago and she was really looking forward to it.
“To be honest I thought it would be her last ever holiday because her mobility was so poor and I booked all sorts of disability assistance for her at the airport.
“Her first comment when she was told she was dying was, “Oh, I suppose, I will have to cancel my holiday then”.
When Mr Parsons asked Ryanair for a refund, it offered its ‘condolences’ but said Mrs Parsons had breached its terms and conditions.
The letter read: “Unfortunately, we regret to advise you that in accordance with Ryanair’s General Conditions of Carriage detailed below we cannot refund your booking.”
It included a section from its terms and conditions regarding bereavements that states: “In the case of a bereavement of an immediate family member (spouse, civil partner, mother, father, brother, sister, child, grandparent or grandchild) within 28 days of intended travel we will... make a refund.”
The airline has now backed down and apologised to Mr Parsons after he threatened to take the flight and strap an urn containing his mother’s ashes to what would have been her seat.
A spokesman said: “He was entitled to a full refund, and this has now been sent to him, with our sincere apologies for the incorrect letter and inconvenience caused to him and his family.”
Mr Parsons said he was pleased that Ryanair had changed its mind.
He said: ‘It was never really about the money. It was all about the principle.
“If they had not given me the money back, I would have booked my mother’s ashes on to the flight and strapped her in the seat that I had booked for her.
“She had a valid passport so I don’t think there was any way they could have refused to take her ashes.
“I would also have put the ashes in the wheelchair that I had reserved for her at the airport, and I would have filmed everything and posted it on YouTube.
“You expect to get a rough ride with these cheap airlines, but you don’t expect to get tied to a contract which is so far bent in the airline’s favour that you can’t conceivably win.”