Dad locked up after flying to Croatia on stepdaughter’s passport

A dad ended up spending his entire holiday in a Croatian cell after he tried to enter the country using his stepdaughter’s passport.

David Chadwick, 57, had been looking forward to a romantic five-day break with his wife Allison, 46, when they arrived at Manchester Airport and boarded their flight to Croatia.

However, after touching down at Zagreb Airport he was stopped by border guards – and realized he had brought his 21-year-old stepdaughter Katherine’s passport instead of his own.

Without any other form of personal identification, David was swiftly detained and spent the duration of his getaway in an airport cell, Manchester Evening News reports.

David Chadwick’s refusal of entry into Croatia.

He was then escorted onto his original flight home and detained by border officials at Manchester Airport, who confirmed his identification based on photos of his passport and driving license on his phone and let him go home.

Senior international clinical manager David, who lives in Standish with Alison and Katherine, who are both nurses, said: “I was simply gutted, and embarrassed at the same time.

“I pride myself in never having the wrong things in hand luggage and always having the correct documentation, so I couldn’t believe it had happened. I think our faces said it all.

“I accept its half my fault for picking up the wrong passport, but you’d think that post 9/11, I wouldn’t have been able to board a plane with a female name and photo of my daughter on!

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David managed to board his flight at Manchester Airport with his step-daughter's passport.
David managed to board his flight at Manchester Airport with his step-daughter’s passport.

“When I finally got back to the UK, the border force at Manchester Airport couldn’t believe I got to Croatia with the wrong passport. The most perplexed was the Zagreb UK consulate as to how I’d managed to get to Croatia in the first place.

“This was a much needed break for both of us – my wife is an NHS nurse who worked all the way through the pandemic whilst I worked in clinical research – but I spent the whole time in a cell. It was gutting.”

Both David and Alison had been looking forward to their romantic five-day break together after both working tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

Opening the drawer of the coffee table in their living room on the morning of their flight on April 24, David had grabbed the two passports inside without checking them.

He didn’t realize at the time that he’d picked up his stepdaughter’s passport instead of his own – which was still in his laptop bag from a work trip two weeks prior.

David had to stay in a small cell for his entire holiday at Zagreb Airport whilst Alison lived in the Airbnb apartment they’d booked for their trip.

David said: “The police officer in Zagreb was really nice – he tried to get us straight back on a flight home when he made the mistake but, as you can imagine, no other airline would take me without a valid passport.

“He had to break the news to Alison that she would have to enter Croatia alone as he needed to lock me up.

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David was 'gutted' to miss his much-needed getaway.
David was ‘gutted’ to miss his much-needed getaway.

“I was locked up on Sunday and he was nice enough to let me out of my cell for five minutes when he was next on duty on Tuesday, and then I was released on Thursday and sat home.

“The owner of the Airbnb apartment that we had rented was utterly brilliant too – she waited for Alison to arrive, then stayed and had a drink with her to calm her nerves. She also phoned her every day to check she was alright.”

The unfortunate dad claims that Ryanair didn’t help him after he requested help from his cell and he hasn’t heard from the airline since finally returning home on April 28.

The Foreign Office had spoken to the police in Zagreb on his behalf to try and secure emergency documentation but as David couldn’t enter the country, there was no way of him collecting the documents.

Now relieved to be home but saddened to have missed out on his much needed holiday, David said: “I’m extremely disappointed to not have seen what looked to be a beautiful country.

“Alison and I had to use WhatsApp voice notes and pictures to communicate – we couldn’t physically speak to each other as the one time we did, both of us got too upset to continue the conversation.

“[My stepdaughter] was so worried when we told her – her mum in a new country and her stepdad in a cell. It’s not the kind of pressure you’d ever want to put on a 21 year old.

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“I will definitely go back to Croatia in the future – the police officer and the owner of the Airbnb flat demonstrated how nice Croatian people are. I’ll just make sure I have the right passport next time!”

A spokesman for Ryanair said: “This passenger was detained by Croatian authorities on arrival to Zagreb, following his flight from Manchester (24 Apr) for failing to travel with his own passport. It is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure they have a correct and valid passport for travel.

“Our airport handling agents incorrectly allowed this passenger to board and we have liaised with our handling agents in Manchester to ensure this error does not recur.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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