Two UK residents travelling on EU passports ‘asked for extra ID’ to fly home

Exclusive: UK residents with indefinite leave to remain say easyJet and Ryanair demanded extra identification and threatened to deny boarding

Lucy Thackray
Thursday 02 June 2022 08:16 BST
Passenger nearly denied boarding Ryan Air flight due to Italian passport

Two women with settled status in the UK claim that airlines have asked them for “additional ID” in order to fly back to the UK within the last week.

Andreea Dumitrache and Lara Parizotto were both travelling on European passports - Romanian and Italian, respectively - when they say easyJet and Ryanair staff insisted they needed to see extra identification.

When they resisted or could not show another form of ID, both say airline staff threatened to deny them boarding.

Ms Parizotto’s friend filmed her encounter with an airline employee - who she says is a member of Ryanair staff - at the gate in Barcelona’s airport, waiting to board flight FR6267 on 30 May.

In the clip, the female staffer asks Ms Parizotto for additional ID; at first, she insists checks are random and that anyone could be asked.

However, when questioned, the employee says the checks are because “usually Italian passports are fake,” and admits that staff are being asked to double check “Italian or Greek... French” passports.

When Ms Parizotto insists on knowing the reason for the extra checks, the airline representative says “Do you want to fly or not?”

The staff member in the video is asking for “Something that says it’s you, even your ID or another document”.

When the customer resists again, the staff member says “I’ll have to call my supervisor and you might not fly, so it’s better if you show it to me.”

Andreea Dumitrache says she experienced a similarly “hostile” incident two days before, on 28 May, while boarding easyJet flight U26046 from Palma de Mallorca to Bristol.

She told The Independent that when she went to board with her Romanian passport and boarding pass, a female airline worker asked “Can I see additional ID?”

“At the beginning they gave me an example of a bank card. So I showed them two of my bank cards.

“Then she changed it to, ‘No, I need photo ID, show me your driver’s licence’. I told her I don’t have one.

“Then she asked for my National ID, which I didn’t have with me.”

Andreea Dumitrache

As with Ms Parizotto, she says no other passengers were being asked for extra paperwork.

“I kept questioning it, and her response was always ‘Just give it to me or I won’t let you board’.”

“It was awful - this is someone telling me I’m not allowed to go home. It made me feel really alienated,” she says.

“Everyone was just standing there, not saying anything. That made me feel really, really bad.”

In the end Ms Dumitrache tried to show easyJet staff evidence of her immigration status in the UK - not something that airlines routinely check - via the website. But she says staff did not accept this either: “They didn’t care, stared blankly at the website”.

Both Parizotto and Dumitrache work for The3Million, an advocacy organisation for EU migrants living in the UK, and say they knew there was no basis for the demand for further identitication.

“I made quite a big fuss; I said they’re not allowed to. I was thinking of everyone else who may not know their rights in this situation and may not have the power to stand up for themselves,” says Ms Dumitrache.

She was held to one side by easyJet staff while the rest of the passengers boarded, after which the same airline worker came back to see her.

“When she came back and engaged with me, she just said, ‘What’s your address?’

“I was really confused. I told her my address, and she let me through.”

EasyJet’s website states that “All customers travelling on international flights must hold either a valid EU/EEA/Swiss National Identity card or Passport, and, where required, a valid Visa.”

Meanwhile, Ryanair’s guidance on travel documents for journeys to the UK links directly to the UK government’s Border Control page, which states that: “If you’re travelling with a passport or national identity card, it must be registered on your UK Visas and Immigration account if any of the following are true: you have settled or pre-settled status.”

EU migrants with settled status in the UK have been granted “indefinite leave to remain”, having spent five or more years’ “continuous residence” in the country.

Those with settled status can get a “share code” from the Home Office website to prove their status, but this information should be automatically linked with their passport. Neither woman can see the reason for having to provide additional photo ID.

“It just shows that the UK’s ‘digital immigration status’ is not being used as proposed by the Home Office, because when it is scanned my passport is meant to show that I have settled status,” Ms Parizotto told The Independent. “But still, they’re asking for extra ID.”

Lara Parizotto

“This is what digital status does,” agrees Ms Dumitrache. “If I had a physical back-up, this wouldn’t have happened.”

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “Ryanair has a responsibility to ensure passengers are correctly documented ahead of their arrival to the UK, however an ID check is usually only requested if we have received a notification from the Home Office alerting us of suspicious passengers.

“We are engaging with our airport handling agents at Barcelona to ensure that additional checks are only conducted where necessary.”

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “easyJet works closely with the authorities across our network and complies with their guidance to ensure the safety and security of all customers and staff. EasyJet’s responsibility is to ensure all passengers documentation is valid and, regardless of the passenger’s nationality, acceptable for their destination.

“We connect people flying with us in over 30 countries so there is certainly no room in our organisation for discrimination of any kind. The safety and security of all passengers and staff is easyJet’s highest priority.”

A Home Office spokesperson said the UK government’s guidance is clear that one valid identity document is required to enter the country. They clarified that their role in “alerting airlines” to certain passengers refers to its Warning Index, which is a separate function from routine airline document checks.

The spokesperson said: “For over 20 years, all airline carriers have been required to ensure passengers entering the UK have the correct documentation. The government does not dictate which nationalities or passport holders are stopped for further checks by the airline.”

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