- Simon Couzens brought accused Ryanair of indirect race discrimination
- He paid £2,378.32 for seven flights for his family to Croatia
- But, he found that had he paid elsewhere he would have saved £444.73
- Ryanair settled with the musician, paying him compensation
Millions of British Ryanair customers could be entitled to refunds after a passenger won a fight for compensation which the company tried to hush up.
The budget airline has been accused of charging Britons more than passengers booking flights in other countries – and has tacitly conceded the anomaly by repaying Simon Couzens more than £400.
They handed over the money rather than face a race discrimination claim by the London-based classical musician.
And a snapshot survey yesterday revealed the price difference applies to several other Ryanair routes.
Now a consumer group has said other UK customers of the airline, which carries 80million people a year, may be eligible for refunds.
Mr Couzens was alerted to the discrepancy when he paid £2,378.32 for seven return tickets between Stansted and Croatia for a family holiday this summer.
He discovered that Ryanair customers booking from Croatia would have paid the same headline price, but in euros.
Using the exchange rate at the time he made the purchase, which was £1 to 1.23 euros, continental customers would have paid £1,933.59 – a difference of £444.73.
After failing to get a satisfactory explanation for the mark-up, Mr Couzens found he could bring a case of indirect race discrimination through Ireland’s Equality Tribunal.
However before it could consider the complaint, the airline called him and agreed to settle.
A follow-up letter offered to refund the difference between the ticket prices if he abandoned the case.
The letter said that the deal was ‘strictly subject to you agreeing to keep the settlement confidential’.
Mr Couzens did not agree to the gagging order, but Ryanair has paid the money in to his account.
Mr Couzens, from Finsbury Park, north London, said: ‘British travellers are paying considerably more for the same trip. It is not as if it is a greater distance or they need to use more fuel. I have a feeling they responded because they were in a sticky situation. I would like to see them refund everyone. I don’t think they should charge different rates to different people.’
Marc Gander, from the Consumer Action Group, said: ‘Ryanair is notoriously careful about money so if they think it was worth paying to gag the story, then it must be worth consumers getting claim letters in the post as soon as they can.
‘A little windfall in these difficult times would never be unwelcome.’
A spokesman for the airline said: ‘Passengers pay for flights in the currency their flight departs from.’