Ryanair chief warns against online travel “pirates”: O’Leary asserts that companies overcharge customers and stop airlines from contacting them directly

Ryanair’s boss has criticised regulators for not taking action against online agents.

Michael O’Leary claims the firms overcharge customers for flights and prevent airlines contacting them directly with refund information.

He has reported the online ‘pirates’ to the Civil Aviation Authority and Competition and Markets Authority, but says that they are not interested in protecting customers.

Complaints: Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary claims online travel agents overcharge customers for flights and prevent airlines contacting them directly with refund information

Complaints: Ryanair’s boss Michael O’Leary says online agents are charging customers more for flights than they should and that airlines can’t contact them with information about refunds.

Mr O’Leary estimates that between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of Ryanair flights are booked via an online travel agency, amounting to as many as 25 million passengers a year.

According to him, they often pay a premium flight price and higher fees for additional services such as baggage or seat reservation.

Yet when customers make the payment, some agents then transfer the cost of the flight to Ryanair using a virtual credit card and made-up email address, rather than the passenger’s real details, he explains. 

Customers don’t receive information when flights are changed or cancelled later.

Ryanair will only reimburse the price of the flight. This means that customers may not get a full refund.

Money Mail published a December 2012 report revealing that some online travel agencies were charging double the price for flights, and taking fees out of refunds. 

One Ryanair flight from London to Edinburgh cost £32.99 on lastminute.com — a 138 per cent increase on the price paid when booking direct with the airline.

A second agent, eSky was charged 41% more for a return flight from Lanzarote.

Although the Competition and Markets Authority did not say whether or not it was conducting an investigation, it stated that it would consider all evidence received.

The Civil Aviation Authority has not responded to our requests for comment.