The ads, which were broadcast in December 2020 and from January 2021, received 2,370 complaints. It makes them the third most complained about on record to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) behind a 2014 Paddy Power advert with 5,525 complaints and a Booking.com 2014/15 advert with 2,451 complaints.
The ASA, which regulates ads, agreed with complainants that Ryanair misled viewers to believe they’d be vaccinated in time to go away by Easter or summer. It also ruled that the ads wrongly encouraged people to behave irresponsibly once vaccinated, as well as potentially placing a strain on the NHS by prompting those who aren’t currently eligible to contact GPs to arrange a vaccination.
At present, the NHS in England is only offering vaccinations to people aged 80 and over, some aged 70 and over, some who are clinically extremely vulnerable, people who live or work in care homes, and health and social care workers. Similar rules are in place across Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Read our vaccinations news story for full info on how you’ll be contacted by the NHS, and how to watch out for scammers.
Ryanair doesn’t believe the ads were ‘insensitive’
The ASA didn’t, however, uphold complaints that the ads were harmful or offensive by trivialising the impact of the pandemic.
The budget airline told the ASA it didn’t make claims over who would be vaccinated, when, how, or how long it would take to achieve protection once vaccinated – nor did it claim that vaccinations were a prerequisite to travel. Ryanair added that it also did not consider the ads were insensitive to people who had had Covid-19 or who had lost people to the virus, or to those working in the frontline of the pandemic.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “The ASA’s ruling flies in the face of the UK’s successful vaccine rollout, however even though this ruling is baseless, Ryanair will comply with it and the Jab & Go adverts will not run again.”
All but essential travel is currently banned
Ryanair’s current policy allows passengers with bookings made after 10 June 2020 and before 31 March 2021, for travel before 31 October 2021, to make up to two free flight changes – although you will have to pay any difference in fare. You must also make the changes at least seven days before scheduled departure dates.
That said, all but essential travel is currently banned across most of the UK due to coronavirus lockdown restrictions. See our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide for more.