I was banned from my flight and left £700 out of pocket after making easy passport mistake | The Sun
DESPITE being a travel journalist, even I fell victim to a simple passport mistake, leaving me out of pocket and banned from my flight.
Last week, I was due to fly with easyJet to France from London Gatwick with my four-year-old daughter.
We were going to visit her grandparents who live out there for the Easter holidays.
After checking in with ease, chaos ensued when we arrived at the gate for boarding – after a member of staff scanned my passport and said it was not valid for travel.
Most travellers know that if they are heading overseas, they need to ensure their passport hasn’t expired.
But an easy mistake to make when travelling to Europe is looking at the expiry date – when in fact, you need to check the issue date. I was confused.
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The expiry date on my passport was November 2023 and I had just come back from the US without a problem.
I argued the point but the easyJet staff member was having none of
it – leaving my daughter in tears as she instructed us to leave the airport.
The problem occurred because, since Brexit, British passports can be no older than ten years for travel to the EU (and Schengen zone countries such as Switzerland and Norway).
However, my passport was issued in February 2013, which meant it “expired” in February 2023.
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Even as a travel journalist I was caught out by this.
Not only was my passport ten years and nine months on it (before 2019, extra months from old passports were rolled over and added on to the new ones) but I needed another three months on it to be able to visit Europe.
This means my passport would actually have been invalid from November 2022, despite travelling to France and Switzerland in January 2023 without a problem – but I guess I was lucky.
To make matters worse, all this happened to me during the first week of a five-week Passport Office strike, which meant I couldn’t get a new passport using the Fast Track service.
It took almost 48 hours to secure an Online Premium appointment and the earliest I could get a slot to pick up my new passport in person was 19 days later on April 25.
What’s more, I would have to fly to the passport office in Belfast to collect it, as there were no slots in England.
This maddening situation has cost me about £700.
I've spent nearly £200 on the speedy passport application, £250 for BA flights to Belfast, £100 for a hotel, and £100 to change the return dates of our unused Easyjet flights to later in the year.
While I admit it was my own mistake – airlines need to do a better job of warning passengers of this when booking their flights.
Why wasn’t it flagged when I submitted my passport details on the easyJet website?
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And just when I thought that was all sorted – I realised my daughter’s passport expires in September 2023 (or July 2023 for travel to Europe). So now I have to get a new one for her too.
Maybe we will have a summer holiday in Wales instead.
What did easyJet say?
An easyJet spokesperson told Sun Online Travel:"Unfortunately Ms Southan and her daughter were unable to travel with us to Toulouse because her passport did not meet the validity rules set out by the authorities where we operate.
"We always remind customers during booking, on the website and before they travel via email – with links to important information including documentation for their trip to ensure they are aware of the requirements for the destination they are flying to and it is customers’ responsibility to ensure they have the correct, valid documentation for travel.
“We are sorry for the level of customer service Ms Southan experienced at the airport as this is not the level of service we expect of our ground handling partner and so we are following this up with them.”
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