EasyJet leave passenger almost £1,500 out of pocket after wrongly denying boarding – again

Exclusive: UK’s biggest budget airline wrongly claims British passports ‘expire after 10 years’ since Brexit

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 30 May 2024 07:36 BST
Travelling after Brexit: What are the rules for UK and EU passports?

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Louise Thomas

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EasyJet is once again turning away some British passengers to the EU on the basis of wrongly applied post-Brexit passport rules.

On 9 April 2024, Jacqueline McGeough was travelling with her daughter from Edinburgh to Naples on an easyJet flight for a four-day holiday in Italy.

Her British passport, which The Independent has verified, was issued on 12 May 2014 and expires on 12 August 2024.

EasyJet plane at Edinburgh airport
EasyJet plane at Edinburgh airport (Simon Calder)

It was therefore valid for travel to the European Union and wider Schengen Area up to and including 12 May 2024.

Ms McGeough said: “At the gate my boarding pass flashed red and the rep asked me when we were returning.

“I advised her 12 April. She stepped aside to make a call then advised me that my passport wasn’t valid. I told her I had carefully considered the published guidance before booking. She stated that my passport was only valid for 10 years from the issue date and therefore was not valid for travel.”

Read more: When to renew your passport before visiting Europe

The easyJet ground agent was incorrect. Ms McGeough’s passport comfortably met both the tests for UK passports to the European Union:

  • Under 10 years since issue date on the day of outbound travel
  • At least three months remaining on the intended date of return

Ms McGeough explained this to a supervisor, who nevertheless confirmed the original, erroneous decision to deny boarding.

The pair left the airport, having lost nearly £1,500 on the trip. Ms McGeough spent two days verifying that her passport was acceptable for travel. The Italian consulate in Edinburgh confirmed her passport was within date. She then lodged a complaint with easyJet.

Six weeks later easyJet’s customer service department told her that her passport had expired on 12 May 2024, which was false.

She then appealed to the chief executive, Johan Lundgren.

“On 27 May I received a response from the executive support team advising that having ‘thoroughly investigated’ my claim, I had been appropriately denied boarding as my passport expired on 12 May, 10 years from the anniversary of issue of my passport.”

Again, this was false, and Ms McGeough appealed for the decision to be reversed.

But easyJet doubled down, telling her: “Post-Brexit, EU countries no longer accept passports issued more than 10 years ago, even if they have additional months of validity due to the old passport transfer.”

This is not correct; a British citizen can be present in the European Union over 10 years after the passport was issued, so long as they enter the area before the passport’s 10th birthday and have three months’ passport validity remaining.

Ms McGeough said: “Following the initial humiliation of being turned away and distress associated with missing out on our holiday, I am now pretty convinced that there has been no attempt to resolve the issue and rather it is easyJet’s tactic to to hold this line and not accept any liability in the hope that customers will give up.

“I have no idea how they can ignore all the published guidance and everything I have passed to them, including your articles going back to 2022, but still maintain that they have ‘thoroughly investigated’.

“I am out of pocket by almost £1,500. I have needlessly missed out on a short break with my daughter and have lost two days of my annual leave entitlement.

“Had the mistake been mine I would have been accepting and would have forgotten about it by now.”

After the Brexit transition phase ended, easyJet – along with its main rival, Ryanairimposed incorrect rules, even though The Independent had provided them both with the correct European Union policy.

Eventually both airlines fell into line, as did the UK government – which had continually misrepresented the EU rules.

After The Independent contacted easyJet, the airline said a mistake had been made and that its policy had not, in fact, changed.

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “We are very sorry that Ms McGeough and her daughter were unable to take their flight to Naples due to a misunderstanding at the gate of passport validity rules, which we are investigating with our ground handling partner at Edinburgh airport to ensure this doesn’t happen in future.

“We are also looking into why they received incorrect information in response to their claim as easyJet has not changed its policy which is in line with government guidance.

“We are in touch with Ms McGeough to apologise for this experience and to reimburse their flights and any expenses, as well as provide the compensation that is due.”

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