AN AMERICAN serviceman who had to cancel a £500 family holiday to Ireland when he was sent to war is taking on Ryanair over their refusal to offer a refund. Major Ralph Groves, of Sweetings Road, Godmanchester, had to rearrange his August 2008 holiday whe

AN AMERICAN serviceman who had to cancel a £500 family holiday to Ireland when he was sent to war is taking on Ryanair over their refusal to offer a refund.

Major Ralph Groves, of Sweetings Road, Godmanchester, had to rearrange his August 2008 holiday when he found he was to be deployed in Iraq - but the budget airline have told him the six return flights were non-refundable.

Major Groves, 57, had planned to visit Ireland on a family trip with his wife and four children, now aged between seven and 23 years old. He thought the exceptional circumstances of his case would allow Ryanair to refund the flights and re-sell the seats.

"I attempted to reason with Ryanair and asked if they would be able to extend me some courtesy as I had been a loyal customer for many years," he said.

"It wasn't as though I slept in and missed my flight - this was military service coming into the picture, and I gave them six months to re-sell the flights to other customers."

"All I want is a solution that is sensible, ethical and just," he said.

Major Groves wrote to Ryanair customer services department, but said he was offered only the chance to rebook different flights.

"They told me they had a no-refunds policy, and I received no satisfactory response from them. Even though they say that you can switch tickets, it is not really the case, as you do not get your money back," he added.

The matter was not resolved before Major Groves was sent to Iraq, but Ryanair's policy drove him to consult an army solicitor, who wrote to the airline.

"Obviously when I was in Iraq I was highly distracted, but I put the matter aside for later. I feel that, if I could get my refund, I would be doing something for all the members of the armed services, and I feel that they should know about this.

"Look at all the young lads going to Afghanistan for their country who may have lost money by having to cancel holidays. Why not be courteous?"

A judgement by default ordered that Ryanair should pay Major Groves £489.52 and £45 costs by October 13, but the airline has applied to have the judgement set aside. As a result, the case will continue at a hearing on November 12 at Huntingdon County Court.

Nobody from Ryanair was available to comment as The Hunts Post went to press.