Wed, 4 May 2022, 2:46 pm
The Schoneville family from Motherwell made a very early start for their holiday flight to Tenerife on Monday morning, 2 May.
Parents Lisa and Neil, Zak aged 15 and his sister Lily, 13, arrived at Glasgow Prestwick airport at 4am ahead of the 6.10am departure of flight FR653.
They were first in the queue for Ryanair. But within minutes they were told they would not be flying.
The airline claimed Zak’s passport had expired – even though it has five months to run.
The travel document was issued in March 2017 and has an expiry date of 31 October 2022. It meets the current European Union requirements of being less than 10 years old and having at least three months’ validity on the passenger’s return date.
The passport is legal for travel in Spain and all other EU nations up to 31 July this year.
But the Ryanair representative told the Schonevilles it had already expired.
Lisa Schoneville told The Independent: “He explained this was due to Brexit and that passports were only valid for five or 10 years from the date of issue.
“We didn’t want to cause a scene at the check in desk so we left and sat down to research this further.
“We couldn’t find any information on this rule, and could only find the information stated about the 10-year passport rule.”
This is the EU requirement that British passports are less than 10 years old on the day of travel to Europe. All children’s passports, which are valid for a maximum of five years and nine months, automatically meet this requirement.
Ms Schoneville said: “We asked on numerous occasions for links to websites but were never provided with any physical evidence.”
She then showed staff an article in The Independent based on official communications from the European Commission and which provides the correct passport rules for British travellers to the EU.
“We were told this was only a news report so they couldn’t refer to that. They told us they had called ‘Ryanair Immigration’ and they advised them to refuse our travel.”
This is the department of the Irish airline that sets rules for ground staff to follow.
“We asked them to call again in front of us so we could hear what they had to say. ‘Ryanair Immigration’ confirmed we were not allowed to travel.”
Back home in Motherwell they called Ryanair again and were told that Zak needed six months on his passport prior to travelling to the EU and three months on his passport for travelling back to the UK.
Both assertions are false.
The family then contacted The Independent and were advised to book on Jet2, which follows the European rules.
Next morning they checked in as normal at Edinburgh airport and flew to Tenerife to start their holiday 26 hours late. Before departure, Lisa Schoneville said: “We are absolutely over the moon, no issues at all with check in, straight through without any problems.
“So happy, and excited, really looking forward to some family time and the kids are buzzing about going to Siam Park [a water park in Costa Adeje].
“Such a relief, yesterday I ended up in bed with a migraine with the stress of it all.”
The Independent asked Ryanair why Zak Schoneville was turned away and whether he will be allowed to fly home from Spain with the family on Saturday.
A spokesperson for the airline said: “This UK passenger was correctly denied boarding in Glasgow Prestwick because his passport was not valid for travel to the EU.
“This teenager’s passport was issued in March 2017, and therefore exceeded its permitted 5 years validity for entry to the EU in March 2022, and was no longer valid for travel on May 2022.
“Under current EU rules which apply, a child’s passport must be no more than five years old on the date of travel, and he was correctly denied boarding.”
There is no such rule, and The Independent has informed Ryanair of this.
British passports for children under 16 are valid for a maximum of five years and nine months.
Last week easyJet became the last major UK airline to adopt the correct European rules on passport validity. The carrier is now paying compensation to passengers who were wrongly denied boarding by ground staff.