Ryanair customer warned after being caught out by ‘illegal’ parking at Newcastle airport

A Tyneside holidaymaker was left in dire straits when he turned up at Newcastle Airport ready to fly to Spain.

Despite having purchased his airport parking a few days earlier with Ryanair, John Paton and his wife, Sheila, were greeted with puzzled faces instead of the Looking4Parking meet and greet service he had paid for. And although Ryanair and Newcastle Airport have confirmed there was a parking problem at the airport, they cannot agree on who was responsible for the confusion.

John and Sheila, both 69, arrived on time and in good spirits, looking forward to their break in Malaga. However, they were quickly brought back to earth when John, from Monkseaton, claims he called the number on the parking voucher Ryanair had sent him – only to find there was no one to answer his call, without talk about getting his car back.

Read more: Couple recount their ‘honeymoon from hell’ after apartment fire

He rang again and was relieved to hear the phone answer. However, John’s hope was cut short when he claims a recorded message told him the service “was not operational at the moment”.

“Luckily we arrived in time for our flight, otherwise we would have missed it,” said John, a retired teacher. “The message put us in a panic, as our flight time was approaching, so we went to the airport parking desk on site, to be told that our voucher was not valid at the airport. We had no choice but to pay extra to park on the official airport website and had to pay an extra £66.99 to park it was awful – we were aware we were running out of time to get through security to get our flight in. It was all very stressful.

John Paton says he found the parking lot fiasco very ‘stressful’

Despite the shaky start, John and Sheila enjoyed their vacation, but as soon as they got home they set about finding out exactly what was wrong with their original parking lot and getting their money back.

“We contacted Ryanair when the booking was made believing their website and payment had been issued to them, and were told to contact Looking4Parking as the service was provided by them,” John said. “Neither company was very helpful at all.”

And Newcastle Airport told ChronicleLive John he was not the first traveler to have an issue with parking booked through Ryanair, and said there had been concerns about it, described as ” an illegitimate parking provider” claiming to provide service at the airport.

“Several passengers had a negative experience with the operator and we helped them replace same-day parking products when possible, a spokesperson said.

New measures have been announced ahead of the summer holidays for travelers to Spain.
John was forced to pay for official parking at Newcastle airport at the last minute to ensure he boarded his flight

But Ryanair, which operates 19 routes from Newcastle Airport, defended Looking4Parking, saying the problem lay with the airport, which was experiencing “operational challenges”.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “The car park operation is legitimate. ‘Looking4’ works with the operator at several UK airports. Looking4 rigorously vets all operators and as soon as they become aware that Newcastle car park encountered operational problems, they were immediately withdrawn from sale and refunded the customers who would have been inconvenienced.

“In addition, as soon as Ryanair becomes aware of a customer issue, we immediately report it to Looking4, who take action. Mr Paton was reimbursed £49.67 on 15and of March for the amount paid, and a second payment of £66.99 was made on the 31stst of March which covered the additional payment the customer had to pay at the airport.”

But John claims it took almost a month – and around 20 emails – before his initial £49.67 was refunded, and another two weeks – and only when ChronicleLive got involved – to get the money back. £66.67 extra.

A Newcastle Airport spokeswoman said: “We have recently become aware of an illegitimate parking provider claiming to offer a parking service at Newcastle International Airport. We have since worked closely with parking consolidators to remove this unofficial product from the market to protect our passengers.

“If passengers wish to book parking at the airport, we recommend that they book directly through the airport website or through the airport call center to ensure that they receive an official product on square.”

ChronicleLive contacted Looking4Parking for comment, but the company did not respond.

Mr Paton said: “The service was supposed to ensure a relaxed start to the holiday, but instead we found ourselves with just enough time to get through security before our flight was called. I collected my money – possibly – but I want to warn others who may have already booked to be aware that there may be a problem.”