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EasyJet removes misleading passport expiry rules after wrongly denying boarding to multiple passengers

Exclusive: Britain’s biggest budget airline potentially faces thousands of compensation claims for wrecked holidays

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 27 April 2022 14:39 BST
Related video: easyJet flight lands at Gatwick beating red list deadline by two minutes

“We are sitting at home when right now we should be in Malta.”

A couple from Kent, who do not want to be named, were turned away from their easyJet flight at Gatwick airport on Monday this week because the airline applied the wrong rules on passport validity.

They are two among many easyJet passengers who have contacted The Independent after their valid passports were rejected by ground staff.

Since UK travel restrictions were lifted last month, accounts suggest that Britain’s biggest budget airline has been needlessly wrecking travel plans every day.

“We both have mental health issues and this has caused us to be in a state of emotional distress,” say the easyJet passengers who lost their holiday in Malta. Their passports both meet the European validity rules.

Now, after repeated requests from The Independent, easyJet has stopped applying its conditions that are harsher than the actual post-Brexit travel rules to the EU.

As a result of Brexit, UK passport holders face two tests for entering the Schengen area comprising almost all of the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.

One is about the issue date: on the day of arrival the passport must be less than 10 years old.

The other is about the expiry date: on the intended day of departure from the Schengen area, it must have at least three months remaining.

Those two conditions are independent, as the European Commission confirmed in November 2021.

A passenger with a British passport issued on 1 May 2012 and expiring on 1 November 2022 can travel to the Schengen area up to 30 April 2022.

But easyJet, along with Ryanair and the UK government, chose not to accept the evidence – and instead invented and imposed tougher rules that have seen thousands of passengers denied boarding.

On Monday night, The Independent made another appeal to easyJet to correct the unjustified online statement that “on your day of travel you’ll need your passport to have at least six months left on it”.

The airline has now changed its online information to comply with the rules and confirmed to The Independent that the correct policy will be followed from today.

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “We are always reviewing the information we provide on travel requirements to ensure we’re making this as clear as possible for our customers.

“Having recently reviewed the guidance provided on government passport validity requirements, we have now updated this on our website to ensure they are clear and to avoid any misinterpretation.”

The airline has not explained why it failed to act five months ago when presented with official correspondence from the European Commission confirming the rules.

Thousands of passengers could now launch claims against the airline. Passengers who were wrongly denied boarding when their passports were valid for travel appear to be due a refund of the full cost of the ticket (including the return leg if one was booked) as well as statutory denied boarding compensation of £220 or £350 per person.

In addition, passengers are likely to be able to claim for the costs they lost for elements such as accommodation and car rental.

People who made long journeys and paid a premium for fast-track passport renewals because easyJet misinformed them may also have a claim against the airline.

The airlines’ misrepresentation of the European rules has caused many travellers to renew their passports needlessly – adding to pressure on the overstretched passport offices.

The Independent has renewed efforts to persuade Ryanair to align with European Commission rules, but there is no sign that the Irish airline has changed its policy. Passengers have reported being turned away from a flight from London Stansted to Lisbon on Tuesday evening.

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