Ryanair is refusing to transport passengers who have had credit card companies refund them for flights they did not take due to coronavirus lockdowns.
The measure applies to travelers who purchased non-refundable tickets for Ryanair flights that ran as scheduled during the pandemic but were unable or unable to fly due to government travel restrictions.
Ryanair (RYAAY) said in a statement on Tuesday that less than 1,000 passengers are affected, and that they “chose not to travel and then unlawfully processed chargebacks via their credit card company.”
They will have to “pay their outstanding obligation” with the airline before they can fly again, according to the statement. Customers who obtained reimbursements directly from the airline after flights were canceled would not be affected, according to Ryanair.
MoneySavingExpert, a personal finance website in the United Kingdom, first reported Ryanair’s attempt to collect the funds.
Chargebacks occur when a customer rejects a payment made with their debit or credit card and their bank reverses the transaction, recouping the money from the merchant’s bank.
During coronavirus lockdowns, Ryanair and IAG’s (ICAGY) British Airways refused to refund some travellers for flights they were unable to take lawfully due to government laws prohibiting non-essential travel. Instead, the airlines issued vouchers or the option to rebook.
MoneySavingExpert said that it spoke with three passengers who stated they only found out they wouldn’t be able to board the plane unless they reimbursed hundreds of pounds in refunds after purchasing new flights with Ryanair.
According to the article, if clients did not want to return the chargebacks, Ryanair offered to refund the new tickets.
However, one of the passengers apparently found out three days before her flight and felt she had no choice but to refund Ryanair or risk losing money paid on lodging, vehicle rental, Covid-19 testing, and airport parking.
According to MoneySavingExpert, all three consumers sought refunds from American Express (AXP) when Ryanair declined to process refunds for flights they did not take in 2020. They informed the store that they were not given vouchers or the option to rebook.
American Express stated in a statement to CNN Business that it analyzes all refund claims “carefully and fairly, and on a case-by-case basis with the merchant and cardmember.”
Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA) did not respond to requests for comment.
According to MoneySavingExpert, dozens of potential vacationers have complained about a similar problem with Ryanair on the website’s forum.
In its terms and conditions, Ryanair states that it may refuse to carry a customer if they owe the airline money from a prior flight “due to payment having been dishonored, refused, or levied against us.” When reserving their tickets, passengers agree to these rules.
“I do not see any obvious challenge to this approach,” Colin Murphy, a lawyer in the travel team at UK firm Leigh Day told CNN Business. “Airlines have a wide discretion to deny boarding.”
Last Monday, Britain’s antitrust authority halted an investigation into whether Ryanair and British Airways violated the law by refusing to repay travelers for flights they couldn’t take due to lockdowns.
It came to the conclusion that the law does not provide passengers who were unable to fly due to travel restrictions with a sufficiently clear right to reimbursement.