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Ryley McGuckin, 11, was devastated because he thought “it was all his fault” that his family couldn’t go the holiday to Tenerife, which was a Christmas gift from his mother. Staff at Prestwick Airport in Scotland claimed her the boy’s passport had expired and that it wasn’t compliant with new Brexit travel rules.
Ryley’s travel document was issued in March 2017 and expires in September 2022, and Brexit rules on entering the EU state passports must be less than 10 years old and have at least three months’ validity left on the passenger’s return date – meaning his passport is valid for use until June 31. However, Ryanair told mum Natasha that Ryley’s passport was more than five years old – rendering it invalid in the EU.
Ryley’s mother Natasha Rae told Daily Record she was distraught and Ryley kept “apologising to his wee brother” at the airport this week.
“We arrived at the airport on Monday at 4am to check-in for the flight at 6am and the person at the desk said they had to phone ‘Ryanair immigration’,” Natasha said.
“After they got off the phone they said we weren’t able to fly because his passport was invalid and that it was against the law. We were absolutely devastated. Both of my sons were crying. Barry wasn’t old enough to understand and was absolutely distraught.”
She said she checked her partner Chris Bell’s and the boys’ passports with the Passport Office and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) before they left.
The family returned home to Falkirk, Scotland, before deciding to chance their luck at Edinburgh Airport and fly with another airline, and package holiday firm Jet2 was happy to welcome the entire family on board and they’ve since made their way to Tenerife – albeit after splashing out an extra £600 for the new flights.
Now Natasha is seeking a refund from Ryanair for the stress and extra cost. She said: “I doubt I’m going to be able to get my money back – I just don’t trust Ryanair at all now. It’s not like I just had £600 lying around for the Jet2 flights either. People save year round for this. This is our first big family holiday since before the pandemic, and we were so excited.”
She added: “I will never fly with them again, ever.”
A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that anyone who is denied boarding with “no reasonable grounds” to do so is entitled to compensation. Reimbursement should be sought from the airline first – then through an alternative dispute resolution scheme (ADR) if the carrier does not resolve the initial complaint. The CAA did not say whether it was working with Ryanair to ensure its rules were in line with the law.
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A statement from Ryanair to the Record admitted the airline’s mistake and confirmed the family had been given a full refund for the unused flight. It said: “Our Immigration Dept. have now clarified this case with the EU Commission and we now accept that our handling agents at Glasgow Prestwick Airport wrongly believes that this child’s passport was not valid for travel as they wrongly believed that a child’s passport must be no more than 5 years old on the date of travel, whereas in fact, all UK nationals travelling to the EU, regardless of age, must meet the same entry requirements for travel to the EU, which are:
“1. Passports must be issued within 10 years of the date of arrival into the EU. 2. The passport must be valid for at least three months from the return date of travel from the EU, unless the passenger has a Schengen issued Residence Permit or a Schengen long term visa.
“In light of this clear error on our part, we have written to his family and given them a full refund of GBP £313.79 cost of their unused flights and as a gesture of goodwill we have also given them a travel voucher for another £315 which we hope they will use to book more Ryanair flights for the family in the very near future. We apologise sincerely for the error we made in this case and we have updated our briefing notes to all our airport handling agents to ensure this error does not recur.”
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