Family misery over holiday as EasyJet blocks mum’s plane over passport issue

A family have been left furious after they pulled the plug on their first holiday together following the birth of their second child, all over a post-Brexit passport issue that caused agony for many.

The Wiltons were looking forward to flying to the Greek capital Athens on April 16 in what was to be the first overseas trip together since 18-month-old daughter Ciara was born into the world. Charlotte and her husband Matt found themselves, Ciara and their six-year-old son, Ronnie, at the airport without any drama, reports the Mirror.

However, the procedure unfolded when they arrived at the gate for their flight. This is where EasyJet staff told Charlotte, 36, she could board the plane.

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Low-cost airline workers at Bristol Airport said the problem revolved around Charlotte’s passport being over 10 years old. Even if it was still valid for five months, passports that are more than 10 years old from their date of issue are invalid in the EU after Brexit, even if they have not reached their expiry date.

EasyJet said it was the passengers’ responsibility to ensure their passports and other documents were up to date. However, Charlotte criticized the airline for its handling of the situation, saying the rules were unclear.

Charlotte, from Somerset, said the moment she was turned away from the door was heartbreaking, especially for her young son Ronnie. She said everyone could see the excitement fall on his face when he heard the trip was over, with Charlotte saying it was “the worst”.

She said: “We got to the front of the queue, and Ronnie checked everything out first and ran straight to the jet bridge because he was so excited to get on the plane. My husband told me took my baby, checked everything and was about to pass but then the guy looked at mine, showed it to his manager and the guy came over and said ‘you can’t get in the plane – your passport is exhausted’.”

Charlotte Wilton has been told she cannot board the EasyJet flight to Athens because her passport was issued over 10 years ago.

It would be Ronnie’s first time leaving the country and the first trip since Ciara was born. The family said they needed a break from Covid and other health issues.

Matt is recovering from cancer and also suffers from fibromyalgia – which causes pain throughout his body. Little Ciara also recently had a lump checked after it developed on her abdomen.

The procedure had gone smoothly, with the Wiltons being able to check in, get through security, and relax a bit before being called. But things took a drastic turn when they arrived at the gate, with Charlotte saying the staff at EasyJet were “awful”, leaving her feeling upset.

After being directed to another gate, the family waited around 30 minutes for an airline representative to come and talk to them further. But when they arrived, Charlotte says they were told they needed to be ‘escorted’ out of the airport, which Charlotte says made them feel bad and ‘like criminals’.

They claim another EasyJet representative spoke to them before leaving the airport and told them they could move their flights to another date for £100, but only if they chose the dates at that particular time . The family declined the offer as they did not know how long it would take Charlotte to get a new passport.

She began her research when they returned to her father’s house, during which she found many other stories similar to hers. Charlotte said: “If I had known – if it had been clear online that anyone whose passport was over that 10 year date would not be able to travel – then obviously I would have applied for a new passport more early.

“That was the first thing that upset me – it wasn’t clear anywhere online about the rules. And the second thing was the very poor way the situation was being handled at the airport.”

Of the stories that have resurfaced since Brexit, many resemble Charlotte’s while others were wrongly denied boarding due to misinterpretation of the rules. The government, which says it is seeking clarification of the rules, said on its advice website: “For some Schengen countries, your passport may need to be under 10 years old for the duration of your visit, and the three months at the the end of your visit may need to be within 10 years of the date your passport was issued.”

Charlotte was able to message the hotel where her family was to stay and only lost money on the first night of their accommodation. She hopes EasyJet will offer her a credit or return some money as compensation.

However, an airline spokesperson said: “EasyJet follows current government rules on passport validity as set out by the 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 when booking and before they travel via email to ensure they are aware of the requirements of the destination they are flying to and it is to customers’ responsibility to ensure they have the correct and valid documentation to travel.”

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