Ryanair flies British couple to the wrong country after ‘unbelievable’ airport mistake

Exclusive: Andrew and Victoria Gore were part of a 12-strong family trip to Spain’s Costa Brava – but ended up thousands of miles away

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 11 June 2024 11:18
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Ryanair flies British couple to the wrong country after ‘unbelievable’ airport mistake

Andrew Gore was looking forward to a treat on his 47th birthday: flying with his wife Victoria and 10 other people for a week’s holiday on Spain’s Costa Brava.

But after an extraordinary mix-up at Bristol airport, the couple from Mountain Ash in South Wales were put on the wrong Ryanair plane – away from their family and friends.

Despite having boarding passes showing their destination as Barcelona, they were flown to Kaunus in Lithuania.

To reach their intended destination, they then had to endure a 150-mile Uber ride across an international frontier to Riga in Latvia, and a 1,400-mile flight to Spain.

“I was distraught, and scared. I didn’t stop crying,” said Ms Gore. “It was my worst nightmare.”

Made it: Andrew and Victoria Gore after their arrival in Lloret de Mar, a day late
Made it: Andrew and Victoria Gore after their arrival in Lloret de Mar, a day late (Victoria Gore)

Andrew and Victoria Gore, also 47, had done everything right. They had booked a package holiday with Sunshine.co.uk, costing over £1,500 for the week. The deal included flights from Bristol to Barcelona on Ryanair.

As Andrew is an amputee and Victoria is autistic, they booked special assistance at Bristol airport and arrived in good time for the 8.15am flight on Saturday 25 May.

Ms Gore said: “We have been away lots of times and always had special assistance, so this was nothing new to us.

“The minibus took us to the Ryanair plane and they checked our boarding pass and let us on the plane.”

The couple had been assigned separate seats on their original flight. Ms Gore, believing she was on the aircraft shortly departing to Barcelona, said: “I asked the air hostess if we could sit together as I’m scared of flying.

“She checked our boarding pass again and put us in the second row.”

They were on the wrong plane, while their family – who did not have special assistance – boarded the right aircraft.

“We didn’t see our family getting on, so asked if they were on board, and were assured they were,” said Ms Gore.

The Boeing 737 took off for the 1,400-mile trip to Kaunus. “We had a couple of drinks, then went to sleep as we had been up early,” said Ms Gore.

“As we landed, it was very clear we were in Lithuania.”

They alerted the crew, and according to Ms Gore the captain was “furious” when he learnt what had happened. He instructed staff to provide care and onward transportation for them.

With no direct flights from Kaunus to Barcelona, ground staff booked them on the following day’s flight from Riga, 150 miles north across the Latvian frontier. They were also assigned a hotel, and an Uber to take them there.

They flew as normal to Barcelona next day and were taken to their hotel on the Costa Brava.

But they had no baggage: it had been removed from the Bristol-Barcelona flight when, through no fault of their own, they did not board the plane.

It finally arrived two days later.

Andrew and Victoria Gore have now returned to South Wales. “I’ve heard of suitcases going to the wrong place‚ but not people. In this day and age, there are so many checks. How could it happen?

“They looked at our boarding passes so many times. It’s unbelievable.”

The Independent contacted Ryanair, who blamed the incident on ABM, who provide special assistance at the airport.

These passengers booked special assistance for this flight from Bristol to Barcelona (25 May), but the ABM agents boarded them onto the wrong flight to Kaunas despite gate signage clearly displaying the flight’s destination,” a spokesperson said.

“Upon arriving at Kaunas Airport, these passengers notified the crew that they were on the wrong flight and Ryanair immediately arranged for both passengers to be reaccommodated on the next available flight to Barcelona, which was scheduled to depart Riga Airport the next morning (26 May).

“As these passengers did not board their flight to Barcelona, their bags were removed from the aircraft in line with standard safety procedures. When it was realised that these passengers had been misrouted and were rerouted to Barcelona, their bags were rushed from Bristol Airport to Barcelona.

“We sincerely apologise to these passengers for any inconvenience caused as a result of ABM’s error, and have assured that they will be fully compensated by Bristol Airport.”

A spokesperson for Bristol Airport said:

“We’ve worked with our business partners to investigate this incident. All customers have their travel documentation checked by the airline or their ground handling agent before boarding an aircraft. Since being informed of the issue, Bristol Airport has worked with our airline handling agent and special assistance provider to investigate the circumstances and to introduce improvements for the future. 

“We will contact the customer with information to direct their complaint to the correct business partner for resolution.”

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