Sisters, 9 and 11, fly without mum after Ryanair turn her away over Brexit changes
Kate Barke had to say goodbye to her children at the gate just 15 minutes before their Ryanair flight was due to take off for Palma de Mallorca due to new Brexit rules
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Kate Barke and her daughters, aged nine and 11, checked in their bags and went through security as usual at Stansted Airport on Monday.
But when the family were about to board the FR8386 flight to Palma de Mallorca, Kate was stopped at the gate.
The mum is £500 out of pocket after being told that her passport did not meet new Brexit rules, even though it does not expire until February next year.
Luckily her daughters were still able to board the plane with their aunt who was travelling under a separate booking.
But Kate said the girls were “hysterical” when she was forced to leave them and walk back through the terminal alone.
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“At the gate about to board the plane, the girl said ‘you can’t get on the plane’,” she told the Independent.
“I was panicking, they’re hysterical. It was hugely traumatic.
“There was no offer of help or assistance. I then had to walk back through the terminal to find my baggage.”
Kate said she told Ryanair staff that her sister in law was already on the plane and they arranged for the aunt to return to the gate and take the children.
Despite their struggle, Kate claims that she received little support and that staff were only concerned about her passport and removing her luggage from the aircraft.
The plane took off late due to the offload but made up in time and arrived in Palma on schedule.
Kate said: “I was given very little time, support or options in a very upsetting and stressful situation, 16 minutes before the flight was about to depart.”
She described the system as “flawed” and said big changes are needed following the family’s ordeal.
“If check in only requires the expiry date of a passport when in actual fact it’s the issue date that it boils down to, and subsequently can result in this kind of horrendous situation, the aviation industry has some big changes to put in place,” she urged.
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Kate ran into difficulty with her passport due to new Brexit rules which state that passports for “third country” nationals must be issued less than 10 years ago on the day of entry to the EU.
The mum managed to get an emergency appointment for a same-day passport renewal and travelled to join her family the following day.
But her experience at the gates where she had to leave her children has had a lasting impact.
Ryanair asks UK passengers to confirm that their passport meets the conditions for entering the EU.
These include that the passport has at least three months remaining on the intended day of return and that it is less than 10 years old on the day of outward travel.
But travellers can check in even if the second rule is not followed.
Meanwhile rules and regulations regarding travelling abroad without a parent are not clear.
According to the UK government, a letter from a responsible parent or guardian is usually enough to prove that a person has permission to take the child abroad.
This should include the other person’s contact details and information about the trip.
The letter could be requested at the UK or foreign border or if there is a dispute about taking the minor oversees.
Ryanair told the Mirror Online that the passenger was “correctly denied travel” as her passport did not meet the entry requirements for travel within the EU to Spain.
A spokesperson said: “Once advised by our handling agents in London Stansted that she was not permitted to take this flight to Spain with her two children, the passenger advised our handling agents that her sister-in-law was also taking the same flight and could accompany her two children on the flight.
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“Her sister-in-law returned to the airport terminal to collect this passenger’s two children, and accompanied them on the flight to Palma.
“This passenger’s claim that the staff did not make rigorous checks to allow the children fly without her is completely false.
“This passenger – the children’s parent – directly authorised that her sister in law could accompany them.
“At no time were these children unaccompanied and as the permission was provided directly from the from the children’s parent, they were permitted to travel with the passenger’s sister-in-law.”