Dad held in cell after boarding Ryanair flight for ‘romantic vacation’
An unlucky father has found himself detained in Croatia – after he accidentally used his stepdaughter’s passport to board her flight.
David Chadwick, 57, was excited as he boarded a Ryanair flight from Manchester to Croatia for a romantic five-day break with his wife Alison, 46. But, when he was stopped by border guards after landing at Zagreb airport, David realized he’d brought his daughter-in-law’s passport instead of his own.
Holding only his 21-year-old daughter-in-law’s passport and no identification, David was detained throughout his vacation in a cell at Zagreb airport. He was then escorted onto his original return flight and taken by border officers to Manchester Airport who confirmed his identification based on photos of his passport and driving license on his phone and the let him go home.
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Senior international clinical director David, who lives in Standish, with his wife Alison and daughter-in-law Katherine – who are both nurses – said: “I was just gutted and embarrassed at the same time.
“I pride myself on never having the wrong things in hand luggage and always having the right documentation, so I couldn’t believe this had happened. I think our faces said it all. I accept that it’s half my fault if I got the wrong passport, but you would think that after September 11, I couldn’t have boarded a plane with a female name and a photo of my daughter!
“When I finally got back to the UK, Border Force Manchester Airport couldn’t believe I had arrived in Croatia with the wrong passport. Most perplexed was the British Consulate in Zagreb as to the how I managed to get to Croatia in the first place.
“It was a well deserved break for both of us – my wife is an NHS nurse who worked through the pandemic while I worked in clinical research – but I spent the whole time in a cell. C was disgusting.”
David and Alison were looking forward to their romantic five-day break together after working tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Opening the coffee table drawer in their living room on the morning of their flight on April 24, David had grabbed the two passports inside without checking them.
He didn’t realize at the time that he had retrieved his daughter-in-law’s passport instead of his own – which was still in his laptop bag from a work trip two weeks prior. David had to stay in a small cell for his entire holiday at Zagreb airport while Alison lived in the Airbnb apartment they had booked for their trip before the airport disaster.
David said: “The Zagreb police officer was really nice – he tried to get us straight back on a flight home when he realized the mistake but, as you can imagine, no other airline would take me without a valid passport.
“He had to tell Alison that she should enter Croatia alone because he had to lock me up.
“I was locked up on Sunday and he was kind enough to let me out of my cell for five minutes when he was on duty the following Tuesday, then I was released on Thursday and sent home.
“The owner of the Airbnb apartment we rented was also absolutely brilliant – she waited for Alison to arrive, then stayed and had a drink with her to calm her nerves. She also called her every days to check that she was okay.”
The unfortunate father claims Ryanair failed to help him after he requested help from his cell and that he has not heard from the airline since he finally returned home on April 28.
The Foreign Office had spoken to the police in Zagreb on his behalf to try to obtain emergency documents, but as David could not enter the country there was no way for him to retrieve the documents . Now relieved to be home but saddened to have missed out on his much-needed holiday, David said: “I am extremely disappointed not to have seen what seemed like a beautiful country.
“I am sad that my negligence caused some people to worry about me, causing them more stress than they deserved. As you can imagine, the whole time I was detained, my wife s clung to the idea that I might be released, but she spent our five days of vacation alone.
“Alison and I had to use voice notes and WhatsApp images to communicate – we couldn’t physically talk to each other like the first time we did, we were both too upset to continue the conversation.
“[My stepdaughter] was so worried when we told her – her mother in a new country and her stepfather in a cell. That’s not the kind of pressure you’d want to put on a 21-year-old. I will definitely return to Croatia in the future – the policeman and the owner of the Airbnb apartment showed how nice Croatians are.
“I’ll make sure I have the right passport next time!” »
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “This passenger was arrested by Croatian authorities on arrival in Zagreb, after his flight from Manchester (April 24) for not traveling with his own passport. He is the responsibility of each passenger to ensure that they have a correct and valid passport for travel.
“Our handling agents at the airport wrongly allowed this passenger to board and we have contacted our handling agents in Manchester to ensure that this error does not happen again.”
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