Humiliated Leeds mum forced to leave son at Ryanair check-in after passport mix-up at Leeds Bradford Airport

A Leeds woman has been forced to say a tearful goodbye to her husband and son at the Ryanair check-in counter after they were not allowed to board a flight for a family holiday.

Ana Tiganescu was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with her family members and heading off on her first vacation in over three years with a trip to Faro, Portugal. However, the University of Leeds scientist was devastated when a member of Ryanair staff at Leeds Bradford Airport told her she couldn’t travel because of the date her passport was issued.

Despite having six months left before her UK passport expires, Dr Tiganescu was prevented from boarding the flight and told she could not leave for the week-long trip because his passport had been issued more than 10 years ago, mirror reports.

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The family were forced to make a split-second decision on whether to go without her, only to be told their checked baggage would have to stay in the UK with Dr Tiganescu as she had checked it in. Since leaving the European Union, Britons are now subject to strict passport requirements set by each member state, with the majority requiring them to have at least six months before the expiry date and that they were issued less than 10 years ago.

Leeds Bradford Airport

The UK government’s official travel advice webpage for Portugal states: “Your passport must meet 2 requirements. It must be:

  • less than 10 years old on the day of your entry (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after your scheduled day of departure (check the ‘expiration date’).”

The government says it has asked the European Commission to clarify the 10-year rule, but the guidance may not be updated until “spring 2022”.

Dr Tiganescu, who will now spend Easter alone during her family holiday in Portugal, has written a letter of complaint to the government.

“It was a huge and very painful shock for all of us, especially my son, who did not understand why I was not allowed to accompany them,” Dr Tiganescu told the Mirror. “I was left very upset, in shock and humiliated, waiting for an indefinite amount of time, almost two hours, for a Ryanair flight attendant to escort me through security.

“This situation was deeply distressing. When I finally got out of the airport, I was in such a state that I couldn’t remember my postcode for a taxi home.”

Leeds Bradford Airport
Leeds Bradford Airport

She fears that many more people will be affected by the rule, adding: “I think it will be total chaos this summer when people start traveling again for the first time since the pandemic. No one will look at their passport if they a The government says it sent a million text messages about it in 2019, but that was only to people who gave their phone number when applying for a passport a decade ago.

“For such disruptive changes, which are likely to affect thousands of people in the UK, I believe it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the public is fully aware. Everyone affected by this change in rule should have been individually informed that their passport would no longer be valid for travel within the EU, even though it is still relevant – this contradiction is very confusing.”

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Dr Tigenescu urged the government to send direct alerts to people affected by the changes.

“This situation is not helped by the fact that airlines are not required to check passport issue dates at the time of booking – a simple change that would allow ample time to update documents if necessary” , she continued.

“I am aware that going on vacation is a privilege, compared to the situation in Ukraine. However, this does not excuse a lack of preparation and foresight on the part of the government, clearly evidenced by the widespread problems people are facing, and which should have been prepared long before the Covid-19 pandemic and current situation in Ukraine.

“The government has had to plan since 2016.”

Ryanair and the Home Office have been contacted for comment.

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