$8800 holiday ‘ruined’ after airline refused passenger with ‘tiny’ passport rip

Manchester Evening News Facebook page / maramade / Shutterstock.com

A family from the United Kingdom missed out on their dream holiday after Qatar Airways refused to accept their daughter’s passport which had a small rip on the profile page.

Suzanne Senior told the Manchester Evening News (MEN) that she and her family had looked forward to their Thailand trip for 12 months. Senior said that they spent £7,000 ($8,800) on the trip and could not wait to explore Phuket, one of Thailand’s islands.

On August 4, 2023, Suzanne, her husband, their daughter Bethany and her boyfriend checked in at Manchester Airport (MAN) for their flight with Qatar Airways. 

It was there that an airline employee noticed a tear in Bethany’s profile page of her passport and informed the family that everyone else could board the flight, except for the 24-year-old.

“We couldn’t even see [the rip],” Suzanne told the MEN. “Loads of people said there was nothing wrong with it. It’s a tiny millimeter tear. We don’t know why it was turned away.”

Senior and her husband decided to stay behind with Bethany. Bethany’s boyfriend, on the other hand, boarded the flight to Thailand by himself.

The devastated family was still determined to go on a holiday and was able to book another holiday to Turkey on the very same day. The spur-of-the-moment trip cost them a further £5,000 ($6300).

The new airline accepted Bethany’s passport despite the tear that Qatar Airways had an issue with.

Senior said they will try to claim the cost of their unused tickets, including their withdrawal of Baht (Thai currency), through insurance. 

This is not the first time that Qatar Airways refused to check-in passengers with degrees of wear and tear on their passports. 

In 2018, a frustrated traveler named Enki Sama took to social media X (formerly known as Twitter) to rant about Qatar Airways destroying “hard-earned holidays” as it appeared that they also did not make it to Thailand due to their passport.

The UK government seems to be aware of Thailand’s strict passport entry requirements. In its foreign advice for travel to the country, the government advised: “You could be refused entry to Thailand if your passport is damaged or has pages missing.”

It’s not just Thailand that has strict passport requirements. Neighboring Indonesia tightened its restrictions on damaged passport entry from passengers all over the world in 2019 in order to curb illegal immigration.

Indonesia also fines airlines approximately $5,000 for each passenger with a damaged passport that is denied entry to the country. 

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