Simon Forster and Emma Schofield had expected to be enjoying away in Copenhagen, only to be confronted with the Eiffel Tower in Paris after traveling from Manchester Airport
Image: Simon Forster)
A bemused couple claim they were flown to the wrong country by Ryanair.
Simon Forster and Emma Schofield had planned a trip to Copenhagen but landed close to Paris just days before Christmas.
After getting past the “shampoo police” at Manchester Airport, they had sprinted to their departure gate where they say Ryanair staff checked their passports and boarding passes, the Manchester Evening News reported.
The couple were ushered down some stairs and they headed to the only waiting plane on the runway.
Simon said they tried to show their boarding passes to a member of the cabin crew who he claims said “oh don’t worry about it” and asked them to take their seats.
It was only when they landed and were greeted with a cheerful “bonjour” at passport control that the couple realized they were in the French city of Beauvais – 750 miles from their intended destination.
Ryanair says it is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure they board the correct aircraft and there are several ‘touchpoints’ throughout the passenger journey which inform passengers of the aircraft’s destination – including a welcome PA on board.
But Simon says he heard no such announcement in English.
Simon is seeking an apology from Ryanair and has asked the company to reimburse his flights, hotels and taxis after being forced to fork out more than £930 during his time in France.
“The shock of landing somewhere near Paris when you’re supposed to be going to Copenhagen was ridiculous,” he said.
“I would like to understand how on earth this happened.”
The couple’s pre-Christmas adventure started on December 17, last year, when they arrived at Manchester Airport for an evening flight to Copenhagen and found it very busy.
Some passengers were seen fainting, one customer witnessed “mini stampedes” and tearful travelers were left “stranded” when flights took off without them.
Airport bosses apologized and said security queues had been “longer than we would have hoped” as a “significant increase” in passenger volumes put the operation under “severe pressure”.
Simon, who runs Leeds-based Robot Food, says he waited for more than two hours to pass through security.
“The queue for security was absolutely enormous and we were all crammed in like cattle,” he said.
“It seemed as though we were going to miss our flight.
“As soon as we got there I said ‘we should have just got a train up to Edinburgh instead’.
“When we got past the shampoo police we got out into the airport and there was the last call for Copenhagen.
“It was already past the departure time so we just legged it to the gate.
“We got there and three Ryanair staff asked if we were there for Copenhagen.”
Emma and Simon showed staff their passports and boarding passes and were ushered down some stairs.
“There was a red plastic link chain directly ahead and to the right, so we turned to the left and to the plane that was there,” he continued.
“We got on and there were only about six other passengers, which was not surprising because so many people were missing flights.
“I did show the stewardess my boarding pass and she said, “oh, don’t worry about it.” I was dripping in sweat.
“Our seat numbers were free so we sat down.
“We landed in less time than we expected and as we walked into the airport I thought I didn’t recognize it and I went to Copenhagen quite a lot.
“We were greeted at passport control with ‘Bonjour’ and it became apparent that we were in France.”
Emma and Simon had landed in Beauvais, a city about an hour outside of Paris.
Simon added: “We went through security and found a guy who spoke English who told us where we were.
“He was heading into Paris so we asked if we could share a cab.
“It was now after 11pm and France wasn’t letting UK travelers in from midnight so we were advised to book a hotel quickly.
“I had no 4G so one of my colleagues booked us into a hotel near the Eiffel Tower for the evening.”
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Simon contacted Ryanair in the morning and asked to be reimbursed for his flights and hotel in Copenhagen, and given tickets home.
He was told to fill in an online complaint form – which he did on December 21.
The couple stayed in France for the weekend and booked flights home to the UK with Easyjet.
“We had a lovely weekend and on the way back we kept getting messages from Ryanair about the return Copenhagen flight being delayed,” he said.
Since returning home, Simon has tried to speak to RyanAir several times to complain and to seek reimbursement of his flights and the costs incurred.
He says he spent €1,108 on the original flights to Copenhagen and a hotel in the Danish city, a taxi from Beauvais, a night in a Paris hotel and return flights from France to the UK.
“After spending hours calling Ryanair and filling in online forms, my complaint is showing as ‘solved’,” he said.
“I was told on Monday that I would be contacted in three days. Today (Friday) I called again and someone hung up on me.”
Simon says his colleagues have joked that the scenario was like the plot of the film Home Alone 2: Lost In New York – in which lead character Kevin McCallister ends up separated from his family on a flight to the Big Apple.
“It really was as*** show,” Simon summarized.
“Just the fact we tried to show our boarding passes and were told ‘don’t worry about it’, You wouldn’t think that could happen these days.
“If you put passengers on the wrong plane to the wrong country, you expect an apology.”
Ryanair did not provide a comment, but for background stated: “It is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure they board the correct aircraft.
“There are several touchpoints throughout the passenger journey which inform passengers of the aircraft’s destination, these include:
- Flight number and destination are clearly printed on the passenger’s boarding card
- Flight number and destination are displayed at the gate
- Flight number and destination are called out in the standard boarding PA
- Flight number and destination are mentioned in the welcome PA on board.”