Mum forced to leave son at check-in desk due to ‘confusing’ EU passport rule

A woman claims she was made to wave her husband and son off at the check-in desk of her latest holiday – even thought there were six months left on her passport before it expired.

Dr Ana Tiganescu was keen to travel and enjoy her first holiday in more than three years.

The University of Leeds scientist was looking forward to jetting off to Faro, Portugal, where she had family.

But, at the check-in desk at Leeds Bradford Airport a member of Ryanair staff said she couldn’t board the flight.

While Ana’s passport still had six months left on it before it expired, she was barred from the flight and could not go on her week-long trip, reports the Mirror.

This was because her passport was issued more than 10 years ago.

The confused family had to make a split second decision about whether her husband and son should still go.

But, to add to the issue, they were told their hold luggage would have to remain in the UK as Ana had been the one to check it in.

The baffling series of events was all because after leaving the EU Brits are now subject to more strict passport requirements by member states.

Most of them require there to be more than six months from expiration and for it to have been issued no more than 10 years ago.

On the website, advice for those travelling to Portugal states: "Your passport must meet 2 requirements. It must be:

  • less than 10 years old on the day you enter (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 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’s said that this might not be updates until the “spring of 2022”.

The page noted: "Until then, for some Schengen countries your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your whole visit, and the 3 months at the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of your passport’s issue date.

"Check both the issue date and the expiry date in your passport. If you renewed your passport early, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. This could affect the requirement for your passport to be less than 10 years old."

Ana, who is now alone over Easter while her family are in Portugal, has written a letter of complaint to the Government.

She said: "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.

"I was left very upset, in shock, and humiliated, waiting for an unspecified amount of time, almost 2 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."

And, Ana worries that more people will be affected by the rule over the summer.

The mum noted: "I think it will be complete chaos this summer, when people begin travelling again for the first time since the pandemic.

"No one is going to look at their passports if they have a year left.

“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.

"Everyone affected by this rule change should have been notified individually that their passports would no longer be valid for EU travel, even if still in-date – this contradiction is very confusing."

And, she wants airlines and the Government to more effectively alert people to the change.

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Ana added: "This situation is not helped by airlines not being under any obligation to check passport issue dates at the point of booking – a simple change that would leave ample time to update documents if necessary.

"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."

Ryanair and the Home Office has been contacted for comment.

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