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Alicante - Luton - Moscow

I am a citizen of Russia. I have a Russian passport. I also have a residence permit for Spain. Yesterday, September 13, 2020, RyanAir staff denied me boarding on an Alicante-Luton flight. They didn't want to read and watch the law, which says that I have the right to transit through Luton.

1 day before, I called and asked in “UK Visas and Immigration Department” By phone 00442034811736. They said that they don't know if you need a transit visa or not, but you can check it by following the link https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.

I followed the link https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

STEP 1. What’s your nationality as shown on your passport or travel document? - RUSSIA
STEP 2. What are you coming to the UK to do? - Transit (on your way to somewhere else)
STEP 3. Where are you travelling to? - Somewhere else
STEP 4. Will you pass through UK border control? - YES

ANSWER: You’ll need a visa to pass through the UK in transit. BUT You might be eligible for ‘transit without visa’ if:

  • you arrive and depart by air - YES
  • have a confirmed onward flight that leaves on the day you arrive or before midnight on the day after you arrive - YES
  • have the correct documents for your destination (eg a visa for that country) - YES

You must also:

  • have a common format residence permit issued by an European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland - YES (I have Spain Residence permit common format)

*Common Format Residence Permit - is the new electronic residence permit (PSE), introduced in 2015, which is more secure than the previous one and more difficult to counterfeit. It complies with EC Regulation no. 1030/2002, as amended by the EC Regulation n. 380/2008 and is common format residence permit issued by an EEA Member State or Switzerland.

I want to know who is to blame and what to do in the future in such a situation.

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    Keep in mind that RyanAir notoriously forces people to sue even for flight delay compensation, even though they know they lose every single time. That's meant to be a deterrent. If you want compensation, be prepared for a multi-year court case. – Zsolt Szilagy Sep 15 at 11:18
  • @AlexZak , horrible - the answer to your question is "look in Timatic". So I'd say (1) before the flight, totally familiarize yourself w/ the Timatic entry. (2) when dealing w/ the airline staff, tell them over and over that they need to look in Timatic and you already verified it in Timatic :O Sorry to hear about this. I had a similar near-disastrous problem once and indeed, by basically "yelling at them" to read Timatic properly, we got on the flight. I hope it helps in some way – Fattie Sep 15 at 15:49
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    "what to do in the future" don't book with Ryan Air (or their subsidiaries). The little you may save on the ticket is nothing compared to the hassle you face should they decide to do this again (whether they're right or wrong). – FreeMan Sep 16 at 15:17
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    The near universal answer to RyanAir woes is "Do your utmost to not do business with Ryan Air." They actively seek to gain advantage from their passengers by treating them badly - or, at least, that's what their founder has said publicly. Dealing with RyanAir is an adventure in its own right. Whether it's an adventure you want to participate in is up to you. – Russell McMahon Sep 17 at 4:52
  • Question title says London, question body says Luton. Which is it? – Phil Sep 20 at 10:26
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RyanAir is to blame, as you followed the rules precisely for UK landside transit with an EU residence permit. Unfortunately, passenger recourse against such problems is difficult. You could try to claim EC261 compensation for denied boarding, and/or seek passenger rights help from Spanish authorities at seguridadaerea.gob.es.

The rules are shown in Timatic, available at iatatravelcentre.com. I don't know why another answer incorrectly determined that you need a visa, although the rules are tricky and maybe the airline made the same mistake.

Here's (in bold) the relevant rule I get from Timatic with origin Spain, destination Russia, transit United Kingdom for less than 24 hours, citizenship Russia, residence permit from Spain. (I also get the same output with origin Russia, destination Spain):

Visa United Kingdom
Visa required.
...
TWOV (Transit Without Visa):
Nationals of Russian Fed. transiting through London: Gatwick (LGW), Heathrow (LHR) or Manchester (MAN) with a confirmed onward ticket for a flight to a third country on the same calendar day. They must stay in the international transit area of the airport and have documents required for the next destination.

Nationals of Russian Fed. making a landside transit with a confirmed onward ticket for a flight to a third country that departs before 23:59 the next day. They must:
~ have a common format residence permit issued by Spain, and
~ clear immigration, and
~ have documents required for the next destination.

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    Your quote says "...transiting through London: Gatwick (LGW), Heathrow (LHR) or Manchester (MAN)." OP's connection was at Luton (LTN), which is not on that list. Is there a different rule in Timatic that applies to Luton? – Andrew Ray Sep 14 at 18:51
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    @AndrewRay they are two different exceptions to the visa requirement. The one in bold is clearly different, it’s for a landslide transit, while the other one is for airside transit. – jcaron Sep 14 at 19:44
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    @AndrewRay The paragraph about airside transit at LGW, LHR, MAN is separate from the relevant paragraph (in bold) about landside transit with an EU residence permit. It definitely has some potential for confusion, though. – krubo Sep 14 at 20:00
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    The issue is wether the OP would indeed be considered "in transit". From the point of view of Ryanair his destination was the UK, so they could require him to be in possession of the needed documents to enter the UK. This is the risk you run when self connecting. – Krist van Besien Sep 15 at 5:50
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RyanAir is a point-to-point airline. From the point of view of RyanAir you were flying to the UK, and thus needed to be in possession of the needed documents to enter the UK.

Rynair's T&C's mention the following:

Article 7 - Refusing to carry a passenger

7.1 We may refuse to carry you or your baggage on any flights operated by an airline of the Ryanair Group (Ryanair DAC, Ryanair UK, Buzz, Laudamotion and Malta Air) if one or more of the following circumstances apply, or we have good reason to believe that they may apply.

(...)

You may try to enter a country you are joining a connecting flight in or do not have valid travel documents for;

The other answers all address the matter of whether you are considered in transit or not when doing a land side transfer in Luton. This may be beside the point. You were refused based on Ryanair's own T&C's.

What you should do in the future is not to self connect at all, or at least not self connect in a country you are not allowed to enter. If you had had your Alicante - Moscow trip on one booking there would not have been this issue.

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    I'd also note, with respect to your first paragraph: Ryanair don't get a "point of view" on where OP's final destination is. Yes, OP needed the documents necessary to enter the UK (because they would be making a landside transit which inherently involves doing so, not because of any "point of view of Ryanair"). That's not a problem anyway. They had the necessary documents to enter the UK (their passport, Spanish residence permit, and onward ticket). Asking to see those documents to show eligibility would be reasonable. The onward flight being with a different airline is entirely irrelevant. – Chris H Sep 15 at 8:57
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    An airline's T&Cs do not take precedence over the law. Per EU Regulation 261/2004, Article 2(J): ""denied boarding" means a refusal to carry passengers on a flight, although they have presented themselves for boarding under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2), except where there are reasonable grounds to deny them boarding, such as reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation". Article 4(3): "If boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the operating air carrier shall immediately compensate them [and] assist them [...]" – JBentley Sep 15 at 9:37
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    RyanAir has no way to determine that the person is indeed, as they claim, intending to proceed on an onward flight. That is what I mean when I say that, as far as RyanAir is concerned, the topic starter was flying to the UK. It wouldn't be the first time that someone gets refused by RyanAir because of this. Not flying people is how they make money, which is why I don't fly with them. – Krist van Besien Sep 15 at 9:44
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    Closely reading the phrase "You may attempt to enter a country you are joining a connecting flight in," they're saying they can refuse you if they think you're going to enter as opposed to transiting. However, this is tricky to interpret for landside transit, in which you enter for the sole purpose of transiting. – krubo Sep 15 at 12:29
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    For the record, despite my severe criticism of this answer in several comments, I do think the argument you've made in the comments is a plausible explanation of how an airline as famously unreasonable as Ryanair might have refused boarding, despite OP fulfilling all necessary conditions for travel. My problem is that that plausible explanation only exists in a long comment thread, the answer itself is written as if it's a straightforward matter of a T&C violation and travelling without the necessary documents, and Ryanair were fully justified in doing so. – Chris H Sep 16 at 9:09
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I want to know who is to blame and what to do in the future in such a situation.

As mentioned on If an airline erroneously refuses to check in a passenger on the grounds of incomplete paperwork (eg visa), is the passenger entitled to compensation? by JBentley, and relevant since Alicante is in the European Union, you're entitled to compulsory compensation:

For flights originating from or destined for the EU, the Flight Compensation Regulation (Regulation (EC) No 261/2004) provides for compulsory compensation from airlines which deny boarding. It cannot be contractually overridden.

Welcome to the club.

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