By Andrew Atkinson

A Spanish resident couple have been caught up in a time difference mishap after being refused boarding a plane to Alicante-Elche airport that lead to £500 additional costs for new flights, tests and car hire.

Mark and Zoe Ryder said they were refused boarding a Ryanair flight from Manchester airport in a COVID-19 test mix-up – after staff could not decipher the European time zone difference.

Current COVID-19 lockdown rules stipulate to board a flight to Spain you to have a negative coronavirus test – within 72 hours of arrival.

The couple from Oldham who became residents in Spain three years ago had returned to the UK for a funeral.

They were due to return to their home near Alicante, and were tested at 9.48am on April 13, which, based on their scheduled time of arrival and taking into account the UK being one hour behind Spain, would have been approximately eight minutes inside the 72 hour period.

The couple were due to land in Spain at 10.40am on April 15 – 9.40am UK time – 71 hours and 52 minutes after their tests.

When they arrived at Manchester Airport to check-in they say Ryanair staff refused to let them board the flight: “They wrongly insisted that our tests were outside the required 72 hour period.

“Even if it’s a minute under it doesn’t matter, it’s still less than 72 hours,” rued Mark.

Mark, 62, alleged: “She couldn’t get her head round the impact of the European time difference – and neither could the colleague she sought advice from.

“They just said no. We asked her to clarify the rules, she spoke to somebody else, and they still said no.

“It didn’t make sense. Their response was just ‘You will not be travelling today’. How can they be so dogmatic?

“We were cheesed off – to say the least. It’s cost us almost £500 to get new flights, new tests and to change the car hire.”

In an email to the couple a representative for the airline said Ryanair tickets were ‘non-refundable’ and added: “I sympathise with your circumstances, but I am not in a position to process your refund request and recommend that you contact your travel insurer with regard to this matter.”

The couple eventually returned to Spain.

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