Charlotte Wilton’s family missed out on their first holiday together because her passport was issued more than a decade ago and as such is invalid, according to new post-Brexit travel regulations. So the 36-year-old mother was barred from her flight to Athens and she, husband Matt, six-year-old Ronnie and 18-month-old daughter Ciara were left heartbroken.
The airline said it was a passenger’s responsibility to ensure they had the right documentation for travel and Charlotte would not be eligible for compensation.
But Charlotte, from Somerset, claimed the rules were not clear when she looked online and her holiday was ruined.
Speaking to The Mirror, the mum said: “If I had known – if it had been clear online that anyone whose passport had gone past that ten-year date would not be able to travel – then I obviously would have applied for a new passport earlier.
“That was the first thing that upset me – it wasn’t clear anywhere online as to what the rules were. And the second thing was the very poor way in which the situation was handled at the airport.
“He (an easyJet employee) made us feel like total c**p, like criminals.”
Charlotte’s son Ronnie was “so excited” for his first trip abroad but was devastated when staff noticed Charlotte’s passport was not valid.
The mum continued: “My husband took my infant from me, had everything checked and was about to go through, but then the guy looked at mine, showed it to his manager and the guy came over and told me ‘you can’t board the plane – your passport has run out’.”
Ronnie’s face was “the worst part” of the incident, Charlotte said.
Matt, 49, has recovered from a battle with cancer and also suffers from fibromyalgia – a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body. So the holiday was also supposed to be a milestone moment for Matt, a speech coach.
The family checked in with no trouble at Bristol Airport, went through security and had some downtime before heading to the gate for departure.
It was at the gate itself where they faced difficulty.
After they were refused boarding, the family were told they could shift their flights to another date, at a cost of £100 per person, but they had to pick the dates there and then.
Not knowing long it would take her to get a new passport, or whether her husband would be able to get the time off work, Charlotte said they were forced to decline this offer.
They went back to Charlotte’s dad’s house, where she began to research what had gone wrong and found accounts of others who’d had similar experiences.
Different airlines have seemingly interpreted a rule stating a UK passport must be valid for three months upon their departure differently of late.
But the UK government website reads: “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 advice also states: “We are asking the European Commission to clarify the 10-year rule.”
Charlotte now hopes easyJet will offer credit or refund their flights as compensation for her experience.
An easyJet representative said: “easyJet follows current government rules on passport validity, as set out by governments where we operate.
“Unfortunately we were unable to allow Ms Wilton to travel with us from Bristol to Athens as she did not have the correct valid documentation for her flight.
“To help customers prepare for their flight, we remind customers during booking and before they travel via email to ensure they are aware of the requirements for the destination they are flying to and it is customers’ responsibility to ensure they have the correct, valid documentation for travel.”