A mother-of-two from Cornwall has warned holidaymakers to double check post-Brexit rules before they travel, after confusion over her passport’s expiry date caused her to miss a £2,000 holiday to Portugal.
Meg Gordon says she and her family were treated “like criminals” at Newquay Airport, where she was told she could not board her Ryanair flight on 23 July.
She was travelling with husband Andy, and 16-year-old twins Jasmine and Dylan, at the time.
“We checked the bags in, had the passports checked and scanned – no problem, went through security and sat in the departure lounge and watched it fill up with other eager, excited passengers,” Ms Gordon told ITV.
However, when it came time for her to board, a member of Ryanair staff told her that her passport was not in date.
Ms Gordon insisted it was – the expiry date shown on the passport was April 2023. However, the ground staff member clarified that UK passports must be within 10 years of their issue date in order for the holder to visit an EU country.
On second glance, Ms Gordon realised her issue date was 8 July 2012 – more than 10 years ago.
“I was then abruptly informed that as the UK are no longer in the EU the rules have changed and I would not be able to travel,” she told reporters.
“I was marched back through the busy departure gate in front of everyone while my family were still waiting to board the plane.”
Ms Gordon says she was “embarrassed and distraught” at the mix-up, as staff “marched [her] back through the busy departure gate in front of everyone”.
She and her family’s bags were removed from the flight and they were forced to return home.
“My husband went back into the airport to make sure every base had been covered and the customer service representative said, ‘Well, what’s up with the passport, it’s still valid’. She was completely unaware of it too. It shows it’s wide open to anyone’s interpretation,” she told the Birmingham Mail.
After doing some research, Ms Gordon realised that the confusion was because she had renewed her passport after getting married in order to change her name. In doing so, she had not realised she would carry forward nine months from her previous passport onto her new one.
Since the UK officially left the European Union in January 2021, the rules for British passports when visiting EU countries have changed.
If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport:
- that is valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting, and
- which was issued within the previous 10 years
Since Ms Gordon’s issue date was 8 July 2012, her “expiry date” for the EU’s purposes was 8 July 2022 – just 15 days before the day of departure for her holiday.
“We just want to raise awareness to other people, especially in Cornwall, which will get hit the hardest by the cost of living crisis,” says Ms Gordon.
She and her family had spent £2,000 on flights, car hire and accommodation for the holiday they were unable to take.
Her husband Andy adds: “We were in a state of shock, distress and embarrassment. I am unable to truly explain how distraught, upset and devastated our family were and still are with the way that we were treated by the airport staff.”
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “This passenger was correctly denied travel as her passport did not meet the entry requirements for travel to the EU (Portugal).
“This passenger’s passport was issued on 8 July 2012 and is therefore no longer valid for travel to/from the EU after 8 July 2022, as the passenger was travelling outside the 10 year validity period.
“Ryanair requires each passenger to ensure that their passport is valid for travel on both the date of their outbound and return flight date.”
The Independent has approached Newquay Airport for comment.