Ryanair admits it was wrong to deny boarding to boy with valid UK passport

Exclusive: Europe’s biggest budget airline has U-turned to comply with European rules on British passports

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 06 May 2022 08:31
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Related: Ryanair flight makes emergency landing in France after fire on board

Passengers booked on Ryanair whose British passports comply with European validity rules should no longer face being denied boarding.

Europe’s biggest budget airline has told The Independent that airport handling agents have been briefed to follow the two conditions for British passport holders travelling to the EU:

  • Issue date: under 10 years on the day of entry to the EU.
  • Expiry date: at least three months left on the intended day of departure.

Previously the Irish airline had insisted: “If you are using a British passport to travel, it must be valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry to any EU member state.

“If your passport is valid for more than 10 years, the excess validity period will not help to satisfy the requirements needed for travel to an EU member state.”

Ryanair now accepts those stipulations were incorrect.

In addition, the carrier has retracted its assertion that “a child’s passport must be no more than five years old on the date of travel”.

The airline turned away 15-year-old Zak Schoneville at Glasgow Prestwick airport on Sunday. He has a valid UK passport issued just over five years ago, with five months until expiry.

The Schoneville family were booked to fly with his family on Ryanair to Tenerife. They subsequently flew with Jet2.

A Ryanair spokesperson has now told The Independent: “Our Immigration Department have now clarified this case with the EU Commission.

“We now accept that our handling agents at Glasgow Prestwick airport wrongly believed that this teenager’s passport was not valid for travel as they wrongly believed that a child’s passport must be no more than five 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 £ 413.24 and as a gesture of goodwill we have also given them a travel voucher for another £415 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.”

Last November The Independent informed all the leading airlines flying from the UK to Europe about the exact rules for British passport holders after Brexit, but some instead imposed their own, more stringent policies.

Last week easyJet aligned with the European rules, and is now paying compensation to passengers wrongly denied boarding. It is expected that Ryanair will face even more legal claims.

Under air passengers’ rights rules, properly documented passengers who are turned away from flights to Europe are due either £220 or £350 in cash (depending on distance) in addition to replacement tickets and other costs.

The current surge of applications for passports is partly due to airlines and holiday companies misrepresenting European requirements – causing many travellers to apply for renewals unnecessarily early.

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