Airline math often fails to resemble the math we learned in school. Ryanair is known for interpreting facts in a unique way. William Livingstone, a businessman who has homes in Helena, Mont. and Warsaw, Poland, discovered that when you combine airline math and Ryanair, you end up with a situation that defies reason.
Livingstone wrote to us after he purchased three tickets from Warsaw, Poland to Madrid, Spain. I’ll let him tell you in his own words:
On November 3, 2015, I purchased three tickets (myself, my wife, and daughter) for a flight from Warsaw (WMI), Poland, leaving December 28, 2015, to Madrid (MAD), Spain, returning on January 4, 2016.
Prior to the purchase, I spent a substantial amount of time over several days comparing ticket prices and made a purchase only when satisfied I had secured very low cost tickets.
It is my recollection that I purchased tickets from WMI to MAD on the dates listed above for 129 zlotys per person — possibly less. I also recall securing return tickets for the same amount. (I am an American and purchased the tickets with a U.S. bank credit card.)
Unfortunately, I cannot verify the amounts because the information is not forwarded to customers upon ticket purchase and it is impossible to revisit past online ticket price offerings.
Given the above price for each ticket, the cost of a roundtrip ticket was 258 zlotys, which is about $64 at the November 3 exchange rate of 3.95 zlotys per $1. For three roundtrip tickets, the total comes to 774 zlotys (3 X 258) or $196.
I also purchased reserved seats, which cost 52 zlotys per person for an adult and 28 zlotys for a child, per flight. The additional cost was 204 zlotys for the adult tickets (4 X 52) plus 52 zlotys for my daughter’s tickets (2 X 28) for a total of 256 zlotys or $64.80.
The total for the three roundtrip tickets, seat reservations, and credit card fee comes to 1,091 zlotys or $276.20.
Ryanair also charged $15.48 for “the credit card fee” (the company charges 2% of the total transaction). This equals about 61 zlotys.
Instead of charging my US credit card this amount, Ryanair charged me $789.40 or 3,116.55 zlotys! This is more than $500 more than what should have been billed.
Livingstone initially contacted Ryanair by phone and spoke to a customer service agent and then a manager, both of whom were unable to assist and recommended that he use the online complaint system.
Livingstone submitted a complaint about the billing problem to Ryanair and, on December 14, 2015, received a reply from Ryanair’s Customer Service Department. It acknowledged receipt of his inquiry dated December 11, 2015, and responded with, “On reviewing your bank statement, we wish to confirm that the payment corresponds to the amount paid.”
Livingstone was confused about this response and resubmitted his concerns in greater detail and received this response:
As you know you used a U.S. Dollar Credit Card to pay for the flight and the amount was due in Polish new zloty. When you made your booking online you were informed of our General Conditions of Carriage. These explain our policy in relation to bookings made in a currency other than that of the currency of the credit/debit card used:
Customers who pay for their flights with a Credit Card billed in a currency other than the currency of the country from which the flight departs will be charged in the currency of issue of the Credit Card, inclusive of a ‘foreign user’ charge but you can check the actual amount to be billed in the currency of your card prior to payment being made.
The amount charged to you was correctly calculated as outlined above, using the information you gave us. Due to this we unfortunately cannot accede to your request for a refund.
This response still did not address Livingstone’s complaint, so he resubmitted his concern and Ryanair explained their math:
Our records confirm that on the 3rd November 2015 the cheapest tickets for the outbound flight FR1063 from WMI to MAD departing on the 28/12/2015 were PLN [zlotys] 539.00 for each passenger.
On the return flight FR1062 from MAD to WMI departing on the 04/01/2016 the cheapest tickets were PLN 449.00 for each passenger.
The total cost of the flights had the starting price of PLN 988.00 per passenger.
Accordingly, you paid $116.07 for the outbound flight and $116.07 for the return flight per each passenger, equal to the amount of $789.40; which you were charged in the currency of issue of the Credit Card.
According to the correspondence from Ryanair’s Customer Service Department, they consider the matter closed.
Companies like to interpret rules to their advantage. No one does it quite like the airline industry, and no other airline does it quite like Ryanair.
How could this have been avoided? When multiple currencies are involved, it is important to be extra careful before hitting the purchase button.
What should Livingstone do from here:
He can appeal to Ryanair’s executives. We list their phone numbers and email addresses here.
If appealing to Ryanair’s executives does not resolve this dispute, he can file a credit card dispute.
He could post his complaint to our forums. One of our advocates may have further suggestions.
Unfortunately, we must move this to the “Case Dismissed” file.