The European low-budget airline Ryanair sent a British couple to the Greek island of Zakynthos rather than their intended destination of Spain — and they are refusing to apologize for the blunder.
Although most people would love a surprise getaway trip to the fabled Greek island, home to a number of sandy beaches and stunning cliffs, Humaira and Farooq Shaikh say they were not prepared to land in Greece having been sent on what was supposed to be a dream trip to Spain by their son.
Not only that, after they landed in the idyllic Greek spot, the couple says they were laughed at by Ryanair’s Greek employees on the ground at Zakynthos when they told them what had happened.
British couple allowed to board wrong flight, airline refuses to admit culpability
On top of this indignity, the couple was told that there would be no Ryanair flights out of Zakynthos back to Great Britain for four days — leaving them having to foot the bill for a hotel room for that time.
Not only did Ryanair employees allow the couple to board the airplane on the wrong flight, there was no announcement of the intended destination, as is routine procedure on every flight – just so that this kind of scenario can be avoided.
Incredibly, Ryanair still refuses to apologize to the couple, who admit they have very limited internet skills, for any mistakes that occurred to them during their Greek odyssey.
The Sheikhs had been sent on a vacation by their son Suleman, who was beginning his work as a physician and wanted to do something special for his parents, who had supported him during his studies.
But this supposed holiday went sideways when Ryanair sent them to Greece, stranding them without the funds to pay for four days at a hotel. Their hotel nights in Spain had already been paid for.
The couple embarked on their unusual journey at Stansted airport, going through all the normal check in procedures that all travelers must, including that last in-person check in at the boarding gate.
“Our phones were saying ‘Welcome to Greece'”
Apparently there was no announcement of the destination on the airplane since the flight was delayed and the flight attendants were rushed.
Completely unaware that they had landed in Greece, the couple disembarked on Zakynthos with the other passengers and hailed a taxi, still thinking that they were in Seville.
“Our phones were saying ‘Welcome to Greece’ and then our taxi driver said ‘this isn’t Spain,’ Humaira told interviewers from The Mirror.
Naturally, at that point, the Sheikhs returned to the airport to see what could be done to get them to Spain.
The Ryanair staff there laughed at them, she told the press, despite the fact that their boarding passes clearly had Seville as the destination and they should not have been allowed on the Zakynthos flight in the first place.
The airline refused to pay their expenses for the full four days the couple had to spend on Zakynthos, saying it would bring for just one night in a hotel.
Humaira states “They would only pay for one night’s accommodation, so we had to pay for another three.”
Incredibly, their problems still weren’t over because when they attempted to fly back to the UK their names were nowhere in the Ryanair system. The only reason they could make it onto the plane to get home was because a staff member recognized them from their initial trip.
“Completely outraged and shocked”
Their son is £1,100 worse off now after having to pay for his parents’ three hotel room nights and of course all the prepaid activities that they were to have enjoyed in Spain.
He told reporters “I am completely outraged and shocked that this has been allowed to happen.
“Not only is this a complete lack of safety, security and responsibility, but it has triggered severe strain and anxiety on my parents,” he added.
“My mum already suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, and receiving her calls to me crying on the phone from Greece, whilst at work, was extremely distressing to hear.”
Meanwhile, Ryanair has laid the blame for the entire debacle on the couple themselves- not their employees, who allowed them to board the wrong plane.
An email to the couple from the company states “All of the Ryanair bag drop desks in the departure area are clearly identified. The screens above them display the flight number and destination.
“Each customer’s boarding card clearly states their flight number and destination. Customers are also advised to check the airport information screens for the boarding gate number.
“It is the responsibility of every passenger to ensure that they follow the correct procedures and take note of the information available to them.”
A spokesperson for Ryanair further stated “It is each customer’s responsibility to ensure they board the correct aircraft.
“As these passengers passed through security control pre-boarding there was no security risk. We are working with our handling agents in London Stansted to ensure that this error doesn’t reoccur.”