Ukrainian refugee family-of-four turned away from Ryanair flight

EXCLUSIVE: Ukrainian refugee family-of-four who fled war-torn Kyiv to Poland are turned away from Ryanair flight to UK because they couldn’t print out their boarding pass in advance

  • The Primroses arranged to host Ukraine refugee Venera Muminova’s family
  • Couple Michelina and Richard paid for their Ryanair flights from Krakow airport
  • But beautician Venera, her husband and daughter were delayed by queries about their passports and visas and had not printed their boarding passes
  • Unable to pay the €60 reissue fee, they were forced to ask the Primroses for help
  • By the time the fee was paid the family was told they had missed the flight
  • Michelina slammed Ryanair’s ‘hard-faced attitude’ to the family fleeing war

A family of desperate Ukrainian refugees seeking safe haven with a British family were turned away from a Ryanair flight – because they couldn’t print out their boarding pass in advance.

Venera Muminova, 30, her husband and two-year-old daughter, fled Kyiv after their house was destroyed by Russian shells several weeks ago and made the hazardous journey to Poland.

But the British hosts who offered to take them in under the Home Office scheme, Michelina and Richard Primrose, today condemned the budget airline for ‘making a bad situation worse by putting a barrier of red tape in their way.’

Beautician Venera and her 31-year-old husband Azamat and their daughter Kamila had spent weeks in a Polish hostel and were almost out of money when they turned up this morning at Krakow airport for their 6am Ryanair flight to safety.

Ukrainian refugees Venera Muminova, 30, her husband Azamat (pictured together) and two-year-old daughter Kamila were turned away from their Ryanair flight to the UK because they couldn’t print out their boarding pass in advance

Michelina and Richard Primrose, were are hosting them as part of the Home Office’s Homes for Ukraine scheme, condemned the budget airline for ‘making a bad situation worse by putting a barrier of red tape in their way’

But because Ryanair’s system kept crashing and they had no way of printing out the boarding pass at the hostel, check-in staff demanded a €60 ‘Boarding card reissue fee’ before they could fly.

Passengers with more expensive, flexible tickets do not have to pay.

The Ukrainian family also said they were held up for nearly two hours by the check-in staff who queried Azamat’s Turkmenistan passport and British visa, as well as initially claiming the pre-paid tickets had not been paid for.

Unable to pay the boarding card fee, desperate Venera contacted the Primroses, who agreed to pay the charge over the phone by credit card, but by the time that was done the family was told they had missed the flight.

Beautician Venera and her 31-year-old husband Azamat and their daughter Kamila (pictured with Azamat) had spent weeks in a Polish hostel and were almost out of money when they turned up this morning at Krakow airport for their 6am Ryanair flight to safety

‘They have been through enough already and now they face this intransigent attitude from the Ryanair staff, it’s just disgusting,’ said Michelina, from Nottingham, a support worker in a children’s hospice.

‘Their daughter was in hospital with dehydration a couple of weeks ago and I know how quickly children can deteriorate.

‘We linked up with the family on Facebook about a month ago and managed to get them through the visa process which wasn’t easy.

‘They haven’t got much money and we were happy to pay for their flights, but now we’ve had to pay double, about £550, because of this morning’s flight.’

But because Ryanair’s system kept crashing and they had no way of printing out the boarding pass at the hostel, check-in staff demanded a €60 ‘Boarding card reissue fee’ before they could fly

The family missed their first flight from Krakow, Poland, but were also to book onto a flight coming into Stansted Airport eight hours later

The family were booked onto a later flight coming into Stansted Airport eight hours later.

Added Michelina: ‘It’s not the money, it’s the hard-faced attitude they were met with at the airport, considering their home has been shelled and they’ve had to pack their entire lives into one suitcase and flee their country.

‘I could hear Kamila crying in the background when I was on the phone, and Venera was also in tears when she thought they weren’t going to get on the flight, but the airline staff were not bending at all. 

‘Two of our children are grown-up now and we have a spare room with a sitting room and after watching the awful reports on the news, and being from a family of Italian immigrants myself, we felt that offering the family a place of shelter was the human thing to do.

‘It wasn’t easy getting through the red tape, but to be fair the Home Office did expedite their visas because of little Kamila’s illness.

Azamat posted on Facebook: ‘After receiving a ticket from a sponsor, we repeatedly tried to check in a flight, but the system kept crashing, upon arrival at the airport three hours before departure, the receptionist said that you need to pay for tickets’

‘Wizzair are offering free flights for Ukrainians, but they would have had to wait until June to get on one of those, so we were happy to pay for their flight.

‘The whole experience has made Venera and Azamat very uncomfortable – what a way to welcome them Britain!’

Richard, a printer, added: ‘There’s also a profiteering side to this whole thing as the prices for flights from Poland seem to be going up all the time.’

Chef Azamat was exempt from being called up to the Ukrainian military because he is a Turkmenistan citizen.

Venera was originally from Crimea on the Black Sea, but had to flee to Kyiv with her family in 2014 when Russian troops invaded and annexed the region.

Her elderly parents opted to stay in Poland because they wanted to return to Ukraine.

Azamat posted on Facebook: ‘After receiving a ticket from a sponsor, we repeatedly tried to check in a flight, but the system kept crashing, upon arrival at the airport three hours before departure, the receptionist said that you need to pay for tickets.

‘They also did not like my passport, since I am not a citizen of Ukraine.

‘For 20 minutes, the girl figured out on the phone what to do with me, after hanging up she answered me that I can’t fly with my family to the UK, I explained to her again that I have a visa, and everything is fine with my passport, we have a family visa, for which she she answered me very rudely.

‘Then I showed all the pages of the passport with notes, she looked for a long time, as a result they called her again and answered that everything was fine and I could still fly together with his family, then called the sponsors and found out whether they paid for the ticket or not, as we were told that there was no payment.

‘When… the sponsor wanted to talk to the airport employee, she again began to be rude and move the phone away, but I insisted.

‘As a result, more than two hours were spent, the flight was missed, the sponsors spent [the money] twice, for which we are very ashamed in front of this wonderful family.’

Ryanair’s website states: ‘If you arrive at the airport without your printed online boarding pass, we can print one for you, but you will be required to pay a ‘Boarding Card Reissue Fee’ of €/£20.

‘(Flexi Plus customers can check-in free of charge at the airport). This facility is available up to 40 minutes prior to the scheduled flight departure.’

MailOnline contacted Ryanair for comment. 

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