CHARITY workers in Gomersal say an airline has saddled them with a £4,000 debt after a children’s educational visit.
John and Christine Dewhirst, of Latham Lane, were left out of pocket by Ryanair in a row about boarding passes in Poland.
They arranged for 12 youngsters and six teachers to come to the UK from Belarus for a week in July last year.
The couple have been involved with the Friends of Belarus charity since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Most of the nuclear fallout hit neighbouring Belarus, leaving a legacy of birth defects and cancers.
The Friends of Belarus help a school and an orphanage in Ivanova in the Brest region.
John and Christine planned a trip for some of those they have helped, many of whom had never been abroad before.
Christine and a friend got the party to Warsaw on an overnight train for a connecting flight to Manchester.
But a Ryanair official refused to let them travel, as boarding passes for non-EU citizens had not been stamped at an earlier airport gate.
Not only did they lose the seats, they had to pay £4,000 for 20 new tickets on a flight leaving the next day.
The group endured a miserable time waiting overnight at Warsaw’s Chopin Airport.
Christine said: “We spent the night at the airport and there were tears. Some of them wanted to go back home.”
They eventually arrived in the UK and had a good time visiting places like York, Haworth, Liverpool and Blackpool.
John and Christine have tried for a year to get Ryanair to reimburse the charity but to no avail.
They gave up after accepting the boarding pass rule is in Ryanair’s small-print terms and conditions.
Christine added: “The trip was bitter-sweet and it still sticks in the throat that they left a charity out of pocket.
“Instead of doing things for the children we’ve got to raise money to pay off a credit card debt.”
Fundraising events are in the pipeline, and donations can also be made to: Friends of Belarus, c/o Yorkshire Bank, 12 Bradford Road, Cleckheaton, BD19 4RJ.