This week I am reviving the old tradition of Christmas storytelling.

Mine is called The Ryanair Nightmare Before Christmas, which sounds like another tale you may have heard, but is fact, not fiction.

Stick around - because there is a moral to the story.

It begins with a fabulous four-day break in the seriously underrated but utterly charming Polish city of Gdansk.

All went well until our return flight was redirected to Manchester, instead of Stansted, where we had left our car.

Three hours after landing, we finally joined passengers from at least four other redirected Ryanair flights in a long queue at passport control.

There a fellow traveller suggested that, with Stansted’s imminent closure because of snow, Ryanair’s priority had been to get its planes in the air, since passengers delayed at departure airports know they are entitled to compensation, but those who are redirected are confused about their rights, so may not claim.

Surely not?

Meanwhile, flyers from Dublin pointed out that their pilot had told them not to worry, because a Ryanair representative would be there to greet them and put them on a bus to Stansted.

But after a further six-hour wait while our case was unloaded, and with no access to food or water and - worst of all - no information, Ryanair had clearly decided landing us at the wrong airport was our problem, not theirs.

Everybody talked of being “dumped”, especially two elderly disabled people and a mother with a three-month-old baby.

Sure enough, when we eventually found an information desk, a ‘tell them anything’ tactic had been deployed by those behind the counter, who were all anxious to let us know they were not actually Ryanair staff, despite the illuminated Ryanair sign above our heads.

A few of us now demanded the food and water we were legally entitled to, and here Scrooge makes a surprise appearance in the story, because for all our trouble we were given a voucher worth - wait for it - £3.

I put mine towards the cost of a cup of tea, which I drank while emailing the Ryanair press office, asking for their comments and feeling it was only fair to warn them that, from now on, I will be telling everybody I meet to not even consider flying with Ryanair.


They chose not to respond.

Twelve hours after arriving in Manchester, we were finally offered a seat on a bus to Stansted, and when we were finally reunited with our car (having not been in bed for 35 hours) home was still a two-hour drive away.

Being a customer in Britain now typically means a choice between ‘take it or leave it’ (high prices) or ‘like it or lump it’ (cheaper alternatives), but I promised there would be a moral to this story.

So remember this: if you think flying with Ryanair is bad, spare a thought for the poor souls who have to work for them.