A family has lost out on £2,000 holiday to Portugal after being turned away at the airport due to new passport rules, and has complained that staff showed a lack of compassion.
Meg Gordon, her husband Andy and their 16-year-old twins Jasmine and Dylan arrived at Cornwall Airport Newquay, only to discover that Meg’s passport was invalid due to new EU rules post Brexit.
Although her passport was still in date – it wasn’t due to expire until April 2023 – it had been issued over 10 years before she travelled.
She told CornwallLive : “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.
“Brilliant, the time had come to board the plane. Andy, Jas and Dylan were in front of me, but when a member of the ground staff checked my passport she told me it’s out of date. I replied, ‘sorry I think you are mistaken it’s valid until April 2023’. ‘No it’s not’ – the ten years run from the issue date, in my case July 8, 2012.
“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. I was marched back through the busy departure gate in front of everyone while my family were still waiting to board the plane.”
Under Portugal’s rules, travellers’ passports need to have been issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country.
Meg had renewed her passport to change her surname when she got married. At that time, renewed passports were allowed o carry forward up to nine months – but this changed after Brexit rules came into force.
Following Brexit, countries in the Schengen Area are insisting passports must be no more than ten years old from the point of issue. This applies even if a passport is still well within its expiry date.
Meg, who believes these details haven’t been made clear to British travellers, added: “We were completely unaware of it. I asked how I got through check-in over two hours ago without it being noticed, plus I entered my passport details when I purchased the flights. They couldn’t answer.”
The family were then asked to decide whether the rest of the party would travel onwards without Meg, who works for the NHS in paediatrics.
She explained: “I was happy for Andy, Jas and Dylan to go ahead and said I would try and get to London to renew my unexpired passport. The supervisor then told me that was unlikely and abruptly asked for a decision. Subsequently our bags arrived very quickly and we were escorted out of the airport like criminals.”
The family say that they received “no help with rearranging flights, car hire, getting home, etc, and absolutely no compassion”, describing the airport’s customer service as “shocking”.
Newquay Cornwall Airport told CornwallLive its terminal team is liaising directly with the family involved as “we investigate further internally”.
They have since written to the airport’s managing director and Newquay MP Steve Double. In the email, Andy says: “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.”
The couple say they have lost £2,000 in flights, car hire and other holiday plans as a result of the misunderstanding.
Meg added: “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.
“We just want to raise awareness to other people, especially in Cornwall, which will get hit the hardest by the cost of living crisis.”