A woman had to wave goodbye to her husband and son at a Ryanair check-in desk after being refused onto her flight over Brexit passport rules. Ana Tiganescu and her family de ella had planned a week-long holiday-their first in three years-to Faro, Portugal, flying from Leeds Bradford Airport.
But scientist Dr Tiganescu was sent away from the check-in desk and barred from the flight because, despite having six months left before it expired, her passport was issued more than 10 years ago. The family were forced to make a split second decision about whether they would catch the flight without her, the Mirror reports.
Dr Tiganescu, who works at the University of Leeds, is now spending Easter alone while her family holiday in Portugal. “This was a huge shock and very distressing for us all – especially my son, who didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowed to go with them,” she said.
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“I was left very upset, in shock, and humiliated, waiting for an unspecified amount of time, almost two hours, for a Ryanair steward to escort me back through security. This situation was deeply distressing. When I finally made it back out of the airport, I was in such a state that I couldn’t remember my postcode for a taxi home.”
Now that the UK has left the European Union (EU), Brits are subject to stringent passport requirements set by each of the member states. The majority of countries require travelers from the UK to have at least six months until the expiration date on their passport, and for it to have been issued no more than 10 years ago.
The UK government’s official travel advice webpage for Portugal states: “Your passport must meet two requirements. It must be: less than 10 years old on the day you enter (check the ‘date of issue’); and valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’).”
The government has asked the European Commission to clarify the 10-year rule but it said guidance may not be updated until spring 2022. The page states: “Until then, for some Schengen countries your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your whole visit, and the three months at the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of your passport’s issue date”.
It advises people to check both the issue date and the expiration date before travelling, and adds that for people who renewed their passport early, extra months may have been added to the passport expiration date.
Dr Tigenescu fears many more people will be impacted by the rule and has written a letter of complaint, urging the government to more effectively alert people impacted by the changes.
“I think it will be complete chaos this summer, when people begin traveling again for the first time since the pandemic,” she said. “No one is going to look at their passports if they have a year left.”
She added: “The government claims they sent a million text messages about this in 2019, but that was only to people who gave their phone numbers when they applied for a passport ten years ago. For such disruptive changes, likely to affect thousands of UK people, I believe it is the responsibility of the government to ensure the public are fully aware.”
She believes people affected by the rule change “should have been notified individually that their passports would no longer be valid for EU travel despite being in date” and said the contradiction “is very confusing”.
“This situation is not helped by airlines not being under any obligation to check passport issue dates at the point of booking,” she added. “I am aware that going on holiday is a privilege, compared to the situation in Ukraine. However, this does not excuse a lack of preparation and foresight by the government, clearly evidenced by the widespread issues that people are facing, and which should have been prepared for long before the Covid-19 pandemic and current situation in Ukraine. The government have had since 2016 to plan.”
The Mirror contacted Ryanair and the Home Office for comment.
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