A British holiday-maker's dream break to Mallorca turned into a nightmare due to a little-known EU passport rule.
Kirsty Hawes, 28, was denied boarding at Luton airport because her passport was issued a day earlier than the previous 10-year limit.
Although Hawes had checked her expiry date, she was unaware of a new rule that requires UK passport holders to have a passport issued within the previous 10 years to visit Europe.
Hawes's friend had booked the holiday for the pair in April through TUI and had added their passport number and expiry date in the booking form but not the issue dates.
Arriving at Luton airport at 3.30pm on August 16 2023 for her flight, Hawes was told she couldn’t fly when they went to drop their bags off.
Hawes, a teacher from Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, said: "They took our passports and said you can’t fly. I thought it was a joke. But they were serious and said my passport was out of date. I said ‘no it’s not – it doesn’t run out for seven months."
She added: "I was panicking and burst into tears. This was the one thing I was looking forward to all year. I was so excited to chill. I love the sun and being tanned. It’s really frustrating."
Before Brexit, Brits could travel with their passports up to and including the expiry date. However, EU regulations now require a passport issued within the previous 10 years.
Read more: Travelling to the EU and Schengen area (Gov.uk)
Hawes had "no idea" of this rule and felt it wasn't made clear during the booking, although it was in the small print of her confirmation email from TUI.
According to Kirsty the condition "was right at the bottom of the email, not easy to find and in small print."
Unable to get a temporary passport in London, in time to leave for her getaway, Kirsty convinced her friend to travel alone but was "distraught" that she had had to miss out.
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Despite attempting to make a complaint to TUI, she was told that her refund request of £1,050 was not possible.
Unable to get her money back, Hawes been left out of pocket and says she can’t afford another holiday.
She hopes that travel providers, including TUI, can make it clearer for holidaymakers by adding passport issue date information onto their website to avoid further frustration for holidaymakers.
In a statement to Yahoo UK, a TUI UK & Ireland spokesperson said: "We’re sorry that Ms Hawes was unable to fly on holiday as planned as her passport did not meet the required government requirements. We regularly remind our customers that it is their responsibility to check that all travel documents are up to date before booking any flights, and we continue to encourage customers to check their passports after booking with us via confirmation and countdown emails. Details of passport validity guidelines can be found here."
According to TUI:
Passports must be less than 10 years old
Seven days before their departure, TUI emails customers instructing them to check their passport validity. The email also links to the travel provider's Brexit page which mentions passports must be less than 10 years old
Need to know before booking a holiday
Travel Supermarket advises holidaymakers to pay attention to the fine print in any travel insurance policy in case of cancellations and make sure you have a policy that suits your needs.
According to watchdog Which, British travellers will need a visa-waiver to visit most EU countries from 2024, including Spain, France and Portugal.
Known as The European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (Etias), it was due to be introduced in November 2023 but The European Commission expects the scheme to start in 2024.
Additional reporting SWNS.