An eleven-year-old boy was left in tears after Ryanair stopped him from boarding a flight to Tenerife – even though his passport did not expire for another four months. Staff at the airport claimed his passport di lui had expired and didn’t comply with new Brexit travel rules.
Ryley McGuckin’s travel document was issued in March 2017 and expires in September 2022. Brexit rules on entering the EU state passports must be less than 10 years old and have at least three months’ validity left on the passenger’s return date.
This means the youngster’s passport is valid for use until the end of June. But Ryanair told mum Natasha Rae that Ryley’s passport was more than five years old – rendering it invalid in the EU.
Ryley was left in tears, apologising to his seven-year-old little brother Barry as he thought ‘it was all his fault’ the family could not go on their holiday. Mum Natasha had been careful in preparing for the holiday-a Christmas gift from her own mother di lei-after reading recent horror stories of families being turned away from flights post-Brexit.
She checked her partner Chris Bell’s and the boys’ passports with the Passport Office and the FCDO before they left. They were furious when Ryley got rejected from the flight at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport.
Natasha told the Record : “We arrived at the airport on Monday at 4am to check-in for the flight at 6am and the person at the desk said they had to phone ‘Ryanair immigration’.” After they got off the phone they said we weren’t able to fly because his passport was invalid and that it was against the law.
“We were absolutely devastated. Both of my sons were crying. Barry wasn’t old enough to understand and was absolutely distraught.
“Ryley was devastated because he thought it was all his fault we couldn’t go on holiday and he was apologising to his wee brother.”
The family returned home to Falkirk before deciding to chance their luck at Edinburgh Airport and fly with another airline. Package holiday firm Jet2 welcomed the entire family on board and they have now successfully made their way to Tenerife – albeit after splashing out an extra £ 600 for the new flights. Natasha claims Ryanair ‘made up’ the child passport rule.
Natasha is now seeking compensation from the airline for the stress and extra cost. She said: “I doubt I’m going to be able to get my money back – I just don’t trust Ryanair at all now. It’s not like I just had £ 600 lying around for the Jet2 flights either. People save year round for this. This is our first big family holiday since before the pandemic, and we were so excited.
“Ryanair has just made up its own rules. I will never fly with them again, ever.”
A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that anyone who is denied boarding with ‘no reasonable grounds’ to do so is entitled to compensation. Reimbursement should be sought from the airline first – then through an alternative dispute resolution scheme (ADR) if the carrier does not resolve the initial complaint. The CAA did not say whether it was working with Ryanair to ensure its rules were in line with the law.
A statement from Ryanair admitted the mistake and confirmed the family had been given a full refund for the unused flight.
The statement said: “Our Immigration Dept. have now clarified this case with the EU Commission and we now accept that our handling agents at Glasgow Prestwick Airport wrongly believes that this child’s passport was not valid for travel as they wrongly believed that a child’s passport must be no more than 5 years old on the date of travel, whereas in fact, all UK nationals traveling to the EU, regardless of age, must meet the same entry requirements for travel to the EU, which are:
“1. Passports must be issued within 10 years of the date of arrival into the EU. 2. The passport must be valid for at least three months from the return date of travel from the EU, unless the passenger has a Schengen issued Residence Permit or a Schengen long term visa.
“In light of this clear error on our part, we have written to his family and given them a full refund of GBP £ 313.79 cost of their unused flights and as a gesture of goodwill we have also given them a travel voucher for another £ 315 which we hope they will use to book more Ryanair flights for the family in the very near future. We apologise sincerely for the error we made in this case and we have updated our briefing notes to all our airport handling agents to ensure this error does not recur. “
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