Ryanair told customer to 'be patient' waiting for refund after cancer diagnosis

By Iona Young

A Ryanair customer forced to cancel a trip to Cyprus after she was diagnosed with cancer claims she was told to “be patient” by the airline after asking for a refund.

Alison Tatum, 52, said she has been trying to get £800 worth of Stansted to Paphos flights refunded for her and her family after finding out she had lung cancer in July.

Responding to a request for comment, a Ryanair spokesperson said a member of the airline's customer service team had contacted Alison directly today. "This refund has been processed," the spokesperson said.

Alison, who is from Islington, in North London, was due to fly to Cyprus last month for a family holiday, but was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer just weeks before.

Her doctor recommended she start treatment straight away, so she contacted Ryanair to ask for a refund, sending in proof of her illness along with the request.

After she had contacted the airline numerous times by email, and still hadn’t heard back, Alison claims she phoned the airline’s customer service line, only to have an operator tell her to “be patient”.

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Alison Tatum said she has been trying to get £800 worth of Ryanair flights refunded since July, to no avail (Alison Tatum said she has been trying to get £800 worth of Ryanair flights refunded since July, to no avail)

The school administrator said she has only received automated responses back by the airline in the six weeks since she first contacted them.

The mum-of-two explained that she and her family had booked a villa in Cyprus for a three-week holiday in August. But in July, she was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, as well as a brain tumour.

"The hospital advised that this needed treatment as soon as possible and asked me to cancel the trip,” she said.

"We were all flying out together on EasyJet who were great and had sorted the refund already but had two Ryanair flights coming back as my son and daughter-in-law had to return a week earlier due to work.”

She said the total cost of both flights was £846.73.

She tried calling Ryanair over a course of three weeks and through the online chat, but was cut off each time.

When she eventually managed to speak to someone, she was told to fill out a form for a serious illness. She went through this process but encountered issues when entering a form for her son; she said the sheet didn’t recognise the name or flight number.

She called to get some help, but was told to email. So she emailed, but had no response.

"I completed a complaint form as well but no response,” Alison said. “ I eventually managed to call again and the lady said there's nothing she could do and I had to be patient.

"She couldn't give me another email or number to chase this up on.”

Alison said she was not sure when she would be able to fly again - if at all - as her condition was serious and she was currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

The London woman had become increasingly frustrated, having been trying to contact the airline for help since she was diagnosed, on July 23.

Alison was first diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and two tumours in her left lung, but doctors later found something on her brain, which she had been told they couldn’t operate on now.

"If it has gone to the brain then they said I would only live one -two years but have to have chemotherapy to see if it shrinks the tumour. I have to wait till the second round of chemo before another scan.

"Obviously I'm hoping it isn't as it could be treatable if not spread. Just another waiting game."

Alison took to social media to share her distressing experience with other Ryanair customers, and had others sympathise with her troubles.

One user said: "Tell them you are a bloody patient. Good grief-hope all goes well for you."

Another user exclaimed: "Never ever book with that company."

While one added: "Sorry to hear your sad news. Ryanair should be very ashamed."

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