A Goldsmiths student spent £1,500 on 70 flights in Europe after exploiting a loophole in a Ryanair promotion.
The airline gave away a £10 promotional voucher to each new customer who registered a “My Ryanair” account on their website.
Jonathan Davey, a 24 year-old anthropology student, created multiple new accounts on the site and used the promotion to book flights valued at less than its £10 value.
“I figured that if one was to create multiple accounts with different email addresses it should work, so I made over 70 email accounts and purchased 70 different flights.” Davey told East London Lines.
“From experience, I know how all the budget routes within Europe work. They’re not random flights – the trip is organised in a way whereby you start in London and go on throughout Europe – completely for free,” he said.
Davey started his trip from London Luton Airport on Saturday October 1; travelling through more than 50 cities in over 20 countries, flying to his next destination nearly every day until November 25 – and then again from January 14 to 29.
Davey says that his European tour started as an experiment, to see how many flights he could book without paying: “It started out of personal interest – as a challenge – but now I think I will use quite a lot of those flights because a lot of the destinations they’re going to are quite obscure and I haven’t been to them so it’ll be interesting – especially for free!
“I’m a bit of a travel addict so if there’s somewhere that’s off the beaten track or some kind of obscure cultural event then that’s what I’m interested in and it would be a shame to have wasted the flights,”
Davey explained that his knowledge of the cheap European flight market helped him book the flights quickly before Ryanair removed the loophole from the promotion: “It comes down to experience. Finding a loophole or an error by someone like Ryanair is almost worthless without an understanding of where the cheap flights run to in and around Europe.
“Even with that knowledge it’s tricky to book all of the flights quickly and to work out a timeframe and how cost effective it would be to stay in certain places.
“People that aren’t aware of how to book flights often spend £200/£300 on one way tickets to Europe alone. If you look out for promotions you can learn a lot,”
Davey made national headlines last year when he revealed his 1,000-mile commute to university from Gdansk, Poland to save money by not paying rent in London.
“I am considering commuting from abroad again – it would have been perfect to have used these free flights – but when I booked the flights I didn’t know what days I’d be in lectures.”
Ryanair responded to Davey’s innovative use of the promotion by saying: “We encourage enterprise and look forward to welcoming this customer on his 70 Ryanair flights. It’s another great example of the savings My Ryanair members can enjoy.”
Travel expert Simon Calder says that although Davey’s trip sounds like a good cheap alternative to a traditional holiday, the flight’s real costs are likely to be hidden: ”It’s an interesting way to proceed – I’m all in favour of cheap travel but it’s not necessarily getting the best value out of it that you can.
“It’s marvellous that the flights are so cheap – or indeed free – but you need to calculate the total cost of the trip.”
“If they’re selling flights at £10 each, they’re doing that on the basis that they will expect most passengers to buy a sandwich on board, to book extra leg room, to pay for luggage – to do something which will increase the cost.
“If you want to fly out to a foreign airport, sit around for a few hours and then come back – to avoid paying – then that’s fine but it’s not my definition of ‘travelling’,”
The cost of flying to, from and within Europe has fallen drastically since Britain voted to leave the EU and Davey used this as an opportunity to exploit a discount on already cheap flights.
“With ‘Brexit’ and the demand for travel now – prices of flights have absolutely plummeted to get more clientele. Less people are travelling to the UK, so I saw an opportunity to mix that with this promotional loophole,” Davey said.
Davey plans to continue travelling on the cheap, and wants to see what more he can get from the trips without paying a penny: “I’ve been looking up free events in Europe that correlate with the dates that I’m in that particular city – so not only would I be getting a free flight, I’d be experiencing a once every year obscure cultural event.
“It really highlights how you can travel on a shoestring budget.”