Brit expats on short trips back home warned over Ryanair and Swissport

Published:  16 Feb at 6 PM
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UK expats in Spain travelling via Ryanair for short visits to family in southern England are being warned over the airline and airport's appalling treatment of a British grandmother.

British expat and artist Pamela Lipman, now resident in Granada, had been paying a pre-Christmas visit to her family in the UK, flying with Ryanair between Malaga and Bournemouth’s international airport. On her outbound trip, everything went as expected, with her luggage checked in and her cabin baggage confirmed at Malaga as being within the permitted size. However, when she checked in for her return flight to Malaga, she was told her cabin baggage was too large and she would have to pay a further £50 to be able to take it onboard.

With just five pounds in her purse and no credit cards, Pamela tried to explain the small case had been checked and allowed on her outward flight, but was pulled aside in full view of the rest of the passengers. By this time she was in tears as she feared she wouldn’t be able to get back home in time for Christmas, and was humiliated by the way she’d been dragged out of the line. To make matters worse, the security guard kept telling her to stop crying.

Worse still, the baggage inspection company had refused a kind-hearted passenger’s offer to pay for the bag and told security she would not be allowed to fly. After the rest of the passengers had boarded the plane, Pamela was literally frog-marched back through customs and security into the main body of the airport. An employee of Swissport, the baggage inspection company, is alleged to have told security staff to drag her out should she not cooperate, and the same woman told Pamela she was a danger to other passengers and would never be allowed to use the airport again.

Once they’d realised she had very little English money and no credit cards, staff at the airport clubbed together and gave her enough cash to get transport back to a friend’s house for the night. The following day, thanks to her friends, she booked a £300 flight back to Malaga. On being approached by a Spain-based English language media outlet, a spokesperson for Swissport declined to comment, but said staff were simply following rules as regards cabin baggage sizes.

Another so-called airline expert stated airport employees were within their rights to prevent boarding, as expelling an ‘emotional passenger’ is standard airline procedure. Expats living in Spain and making regular trips back home should note that ‘standard airline procedure’ of this type is totally unacceptable and choose an airport and airline unconnected with either Ryanair or Swissport.
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