<p>Last call: Ryanair aircraft about to fly from London Stansted to Seville</p>

Last call: Ryanair aircraft about to fly from London Stansted to Seville

Ryanair passport row: adjudicator sides with airline despite evidence to the contrary

Europe’s biggest budget airline offered no defence to the passenger’s claim, but AviationADR found in its favour

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 10 May 2022 10:02
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After Ryanair wrongly denied boarding to a passenger by misapplying passport validity rules, an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider has sided with the airline.

In January Dr Rebekah Schiff was booked to fly with Ryanair from London Stansted to Seville in southern Spain. Her passport, issued on 22 February 2012 and expiring on 22 November 2022, passed the two European Union tests for British citizens:

  • Issued less than 10 years earlier on the day of departure.
  • Expiring at least three months after the intended day of return.

At the time, Ryanair applied its own, incorrect version of the first condition – insisting the passport must be no older than nine years, nine months. Last week the Irish carrier reversed its position and is now applying the rules as prescribed by the European Commission in Brussels.

Many passengers are now expected to claim from Ryanair for being turned away.

Dr Schiff’s claim was already in progress with AviationADR. But in a ruling made on 3 May, the adjudicator, Garry Brooks, concluded: “This case is dismissed with no remedy or award required from the airline.”

In the case, Ryanair had offered no defence.

The passenger told the adjudicator: “At the airport baggage drop off we were told all our documents were fine except Dr R Schiff’s passport. We were told it was not valid for entry into Spain and that therefore she could not board the plane. We were forced to return home.

“We have now checked and the Spanish embassy have confirmed the rules for entry into Spain on the date.

“This together with the other evidence demonstrates Dr R Schiff’s passport was valid for entry into Spain on that day and for the entirety of the holiday.”

But in his adjudication, Mr Brooks says: “I have conducted my own investigations on this claim.”

He refers to the confusing Foreign Office travel advice, which says: “For some Schengen countries your passport may need to be less than 10 years old during your whole visit, and the three months at the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of your passport’s issue date.”

The Independent has previously asked the FCDO for any example of any country for which this more stringent interpretation of the European rules. None has been supplied.

Meanwhile the European Commission in Brussels has repeatedly told The Independent: “The condition that the passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years does not extend for the duration of the intended stay. It is enough if this condition is fulfilled at the moment of entry.

“To give a practical example, a non-EU traveller arriving on 1 December 2021 for a 20 days stay in the EU with a passport issued on 2 December 2011 and valid until 2 April 2022 will be allowed entry.”

These assertions were contained in an article from The Independent that Dr Schiff referred to in her claim.

But the adjudicator says: “There are news articles that demonstrate otherwise.” He refers to a Sky News story that repeats the Foreign Office uncertainty.

Mr Brooks concludes: “I have reviewed all the additional evidence sent by the passenger; however, I must add more weight to the travel requirements listed on official government websites.”

He does not refer to official communications from the European Commission that make clear Dr Schiff’s passport was in order.

Instead, he says: “In light of the above, I am satisfied that the passenger was not denied boarding against her will but had inadequate travel documentation to satisfy travel rules.

“In conclusion: I determine that this case is dismissed with no remedy or award required from the airline.”

The Independent has made repeated attempts to contact AviationADR.

The organisation says on its its website: “We have 33 ADR officials, which consist of two managers, four supervisors, 23 adjudicators and four arbitrators.

“All were appointed on a permanent basis after a rigorous interview to check competency.”

The adjudication is not binding on the passenger, and Dr Schiff has the option to claim through the courts.

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