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easyJet ‘mistake’ on post-Brexit passport rules leaves family stranded

easyJet ‘mistake’ on post-Brexit passport rules leaves family stranded
Exclusive: ‘I assume the approach here is to keep sending me the same reply in the hope I will go away’ – Nicola Gow, whose grandmother was wrongly denied boarding in April

Three months after a grandmother was wrongly denied boarding by easyJet, the airline continued to refuse compensation to her and her family.

In April, Mary Rankin planned a multi-generational family holiday to Paris for a short Disneyland holiday to celebrate her 70th birthday, flying on easyJet from Glasgow to Paris.

Ms Rankin’s passport – issued on 15 July 2012, expiring on 15 March 2023 – met the post-Brexit conditions for UK visitors to France and other European Union nations.

But on the day of their flight to Paris, 25 April 2022, she was turned away by easyJet.

Her granddaughter, Nicola Gow, told The Independent: “We arrived at the airport three hours early on the morning of departure.

“At the baggage drop-off, a member of staff checked our passports and advised us that my gran’s passport was not valid for travel.

“A manager came and spoke to us and said the expiry date no longer mattered, it was based on the issue date and my gran could not travel.

“They advised there had been changes to the rules due to Brexit and it was all over the news.”

The two tests for British passport holders to the European Union were established in 2021. Passports must be:

  • Issued no more than 10 years before departure to the EU.
  • Expiring at least three months after intended departure from the EU.

Ms Rankin’s passport comfortably met both conditions for the April trip. She could have entered France any day up to 14 July 2022 for a stay of up to 90 days.

Ms Gow says the family was still able to go on the holiday, but were delayed and had to fly out later.

“To try and salvage our trip we went to the Glasgow passport office. We were very lucky there was a cancellation that morning and we were able to get a new passport and fly out later that day, albeit from a different airport.

“Had we not been so lucky, we would not have made it on our trip.

“Since we returned I have made multiple attempts to complain to easyJet, however they are still claiming the passport was not valid.

“This was meant to be a special holiday and while we were lucky to still go on our trip, we still incurred additional costs, lost time at our destination and the stress of trying to resolve the situation.”

When Nicola Gow applied for the compensation due for denial of boarding, she was initially told: “The passport must be valid for at least three months after the day you plan to depart from the EU, however, in your case the passport was not valid. Hence, we would be unable to honour your request.”

Knowing the law was on her side, Ms Gow tried repeatedly to claim the compensation due to Ms Rankin, but was repeatedly rejected by easyJet customer service.

As recently as 28 July – three months and three days after the wrongful denial of boarding – she was told: “Your grandmother was refused to board the flight due to incorrect passport details as per the government guidelines.

“This is apprise you that identification required for international flights depends upon the below mentioned details:

“Passport must be no more than 10 years old on the date of travel.

“Passport must have left with a validity of at least three months after the day you plan to depart & before it turns 10.

Ms Gow has asked for evidence of what official guidance or legislation this latter claim was based on. Since there is no legal basis, easyJet was unable to provide any.

She said: “My family are good, honest people and if we had genuinely made a mistake we would be the first to admit it and move on, however this is not the case here.”

When The Independent contacted easyJet on the family’s behalf, the airline blamed a “misunderstanding” by both the airport staff and the customer service agent.

A spokesperson said: “We are very sorry that Ms Rankin was incorrectly denied boarding to her flight and for the delay in compensating her.

“This was unfortunately due to a misunderstanding of relevant passport validity rules at the time by the team at the gate which has since been clarified, and by the advisor assisting with the claim.

“We are in touch with the family to apologise for their experience, reimburse them for their alternative travel expenses and provide the compensation due.”

The airline said it is “reissuing guidance to our customer teams, to ensure current passport validity rules are clear”.

Ms Gow said: “Quite frankly I’m appalled at the service myself and my family have received from easyJet, not only on the date of our original trip but also the subsequent efforts it has taken to try and claim back money we are owed.

“I assume the approach here is to keep sending me the same reply in the hope I will go away.”

The Independent has passed the relevant details to the Civil Aviation Authority, which is investigating airlines’ failures to comply with air passengers’ rights rules.