Ryanair branded 'disgrace' after charging Ukrainian refugee €120 baggage fee

Yuliia, left, arrived in the UK after being sponsored by Sophie Howe, right, via the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Credit: PA/Sophie Howe

Ryanair has been criticised after charging a Ukrainian refugee arriving in the UK a €121 excess baggage fee.

Yuliia Konoplova, aged 22, arrived at Bristol Airport on Saturday (May 14) as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

However, she said she was "devastated" when the airline issued her with a €121 excess baggage fee for her 31kg suitcase Bergamo, Milan Airport, which contained all of her "worldly belongings."

After being contacted by ITV Wales, Ryanair said it did not know Yuliia was escaping a warzone, and has since agreed to refund the fee as a "gesture of good will".

Yuliia, who comes from Odessa, said she was not expecting to be hit with such a large fee.

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"120 euros is really big money to us," she told ITV Wales News.

"My dad is not working, he stays home due to the war. My mum doesn't work - if it were not for my boyfriend I would not have this money to pay."

Sophie Howe, who is hosting Yuliia at her Cardiff home, branded the charge an "absolute disgrace".

Yuliia (right) is now living with Sophie (left) at her home in Cardiff after fleeing the conflict. Credit: Sophie Howe

"She’s fleeing a war zone for god knows how long," Ms Howe said on Twitter.

"Some airlines are giving free flights & you’re charging extra because she needs to bring her worldly belongings."

Yuliia left Odessa on the first day of the Russian invasion, when she opened up her curtains to see a bomb being dropped on the airport.

She and her friend initially fled to Moldova, before securing more permanent accommodation in Cardiff with Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, via the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

"Across UK and Europe we have so many ordinary people showing compassion to Ukrainian refugees," Ms Howe told ITV Wales News.

"You've got other airlines offering free tickets and then you've got Ryanair charging that for excess baggage when people are fleeing a warzone with all of their worldly belongings."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Ryanair said: As this passenger was travelling from Milan Bergamo to Bristol (14 May) – and not one of Ukraine’s border countries – our airport handling agent in Milan Bergamo was not notified that she was “fleeing a war zone” or travelling to a host UK family, and was therefore correctly charged €121 for 11KG of excess baggage, as per Ryanair’s baggage policy.

"As we have now been alerted of this passengers’ circumstances, as a gesture of goodwill, we will refund the €121 charge for excess baggage.”