Friday 24 May 2019

'This trip is so important to us all' - family fear 'memorial' holiday to honour of late friend will be grounded due to Ryanair strike

Paul McLauglin and Claire McKay
Paul McLauglin and Claire McKay
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

PAUL McLaughlin and partner Claire McKay were due to fly with Ryanair, but strike action at the airline means they could lose around €5,000 on a “memorial” cruise for Claire’s father’s best friend.

The couple have worked and saved hard for the emotional holiday and are due to fly to Barcelona from Dublin Airport on Thursday – the day of the pilots’ strike action – before boarding a cruise with family and friends.


They will be travelling with Claire’s daughter Eloise (15), and boarding the cruise with Claire’s father, Sammy.

The couple are devastated because the holiday is a remembrance trip for Sammy’s best friend, Keith, who died from leukaemia two years ago, but now they are not even sure they will make it.

“This is a one-off holiday because my partner Claire’s father, Sammy, is quite elderly, he’s 79, and he did a few of these cruises with family and friends, but sadly Sammy lost his best friend Keith a couple of years ago to leukaemia,” Paul said.

Claire McKay with her dad Sammy
Claire McKay with her dad Sammy

“We’d always talked about how we would do this cruise with Sammy and Keith, so this trip is a memorial to him.

“They were like Morecambe and Wise and everyone was just so upset when Keith died because he was fighting fit and he was everything to Sammy. It was so sudden. He was only in his 60s.

“This trip is so important to us all, especially to Sammy.

“We want to memorialise him with the cruise he loved and Ryanair are unwilling to engage in conversation other than to release the party line.”

Paul, who works in insurance, said he could not get time off to fly earlier.

If the family cannot fly on Thursday, they risk losing a hotel in Barcelona and the cruise from to Venice, Croatia and Montenegro.

Paul said he cannot cancel the flights or they will risk losing the holiday and he will instead have to wait until Tuesday – two days before they are due to leave – to find out if planes will take off.

“This has placed insurmountable stress on us when this is a holiday, a memorial trip we saved a year for,” he said.

“We’re hard-working people and this is our break away. This is family and friends’ time and I don’t think it’s good enough.

“I rang Ryanair more than 20 times today and when I finally got through the woman on the other end of the phone said I need to speak to a manager and then she hung up.

“If the pilots aren’t going to don their uniforms and fly, Ryanair should already be making other arrangements for passengers who’ve paid for flights to go on their summer holidays.”

Ryanair has said in a statement that it has “written to Forsa asking them to call off next week’s strike, since they already have our proposals on base transfers and a seniority list, and have been invited to meet Ryanair to discuss them.

"FORSA have no reason to unnecessarily disrupt our customers’ flights next Thursday."


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