Ryanair refuses travel to passenger despite them holding a valid passport 

Ryanair Boeing 737 lands at Manchester Airport
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Ryanair has been forced to issue an apology to a passenger after its ground staff at London-Luton Airport (LTN) refused to allow a passenger to fly to Spain. The staff incorrectly decided the passenger’s passport was out of date and refused to let him board his flight, despite it still being valid.  

Under revised immigration rules introduced following the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, a British passport must be less than 10 years old on the day of travel and have at least three months remaining on the intended day of return. 

The passenger involved in the incident, Mark Starkey, was booked on Ryanair’s 06:00 departure from Luton to Alicante, Spain on December 8, 2023. His UK passport was issued on December 11, 2013, and has an expiry date of July 11, 2024. Given the dates, Starkey’s passport met both conditions of travel listed above. 

However, notwithstanding this, a ground services supervisor at the airport insisted the document was ineligible and refused Starkey to board his flight to Spain.  

According to the Independent newspaper, Starkey passed through airport security and passed the departure gate passport check without an issue.  

“The ground staff lady noted that I only had three days left on my passport from the day it was issued for the 10-year rule,” Starkey said.  

“I said that I knew and this was my last trip of the year before I got my passport renewed. She waved me through, and I started walking towards the plane. She then called me back and said that she wanted to double-check with the immigration people at Ryanair,” he continued.  

He added: “She called them and gave them my details but was stating ‘I don’t think he can fly’. She then put down the phone and said that my passport was not valid. I said that I disagreed and asked to speak with a manager. She said she was the supervisor and the person in charge. I asked to speak with the Ryanair immigration person, but she refused saying that only she could do this and they had said that my passport was not valid. 

“I was stunned that I was completely stonewalled. I then had to try and get back through the airport.”  

Starkey subsequently returned to his home in Buckinghamshire and traveled to Spain the following day on easyJet, having confirmed that his passport was valid to use for travel.   

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Ryanair has since issued an apology to Starkey for the treatment he received from its staff at Luton.  

“We sincerely regret that this passenger was incorrectly denied travel by the handling agent at Luton airport, who wrongly believed that this passenger’s passport was not valid for travel to the EU,” said a Ryanair spokesperson. 

In the Brexit negotiations, the UK requested that British passport holders be treated as third-country nationals, meaning that the rules covering the validity of non-EU passports are applied to UK passports as well.   

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