Ryanair, the no frills Irish carrier, charged Doctor Muhammad Taufiq Sattar almost $256.00 to change his flight home despite learning that his entire family had been killed in a house fire.
The 52-year-old surgeon who worked in Dublin was reportedly woken at 3 A.M. last week and told that his wife and three children had likely died in a fire at their home in Leicester, England.
Upon arriving at Dublin Airport at around 5:30 A.M. Doctor Sattar was called by Leicester Police and informed that all of his family members had perished in the fire.
Clearly distressed, Sattar explained to the Ryanair check-in desk why he needed to change his 9.40 P.M. flight to East Midlands Airport to the 6.30 A.M. flight to Birmingham, whereupon he was told he would need to pay around $256.00 for the single fare.
Sattar told the Irish Daily Mail: 'I don’t want to make a big deal about it but it did shock me. I really did not expect them to charge me.
'I thought, given the circumstances, they might just let me transfer flights, as I had already paid for a return fare.'
The surgeon's wife Shehnila Taufiq, 47, their 19-year-old daughter Zainab, and two sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal, 15 all died in the fire started in their home in Leicester.
According to the Irish Independent, Ryanair has since written to the grieving Dublin based surgeon to apologise for charging him to switch flights after he learned of the deaths of his family.
The respected neurosurgeon who works in Beaumont, Temple Street Children’s Hospital and the Hermitage in Dublin, said that he had explained the circumstances behind his change of flight to the Ryanair staff.
Sattar said he was fighting back tears as he explained his situation to an employee at the check-in desk last Friday morning.
However the airline charged him the full new ticket price to book the new flight.
'The staff were implementing our policy but I think you have to make exceptions in cases like that,' Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary told the press.
'And we clearly made an exception... once we became aware of it last night we immediately refunded to Doctor Satter the money that we regret having taken from him in such tragic circumstances.'
When asked if the airline would apologise, O’Leary said: 'Of course.'
O'Leary was speaking shortly after the airline's Annual General Meeting in which he said it was important that Ryanair project a 'softer image.'