Two girls, aged nine and 11, boarded a Ryanair flight without their mother as she was stopped at the gates. She could not fly with them because her passport did not comply with a specific post-Brexit rule for travellers from the UK.
Kate Barke and her daughters checked in for flight FR8386 from London Stansted on Monday, August 1, without any problems.
They also checked in a bag each after arriving at the airport.
However, at the gate, Ms Barke was refused onto the flight.
The mother-of-two said a member of staff had told her she “can’t get on the plane”.
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“I think I said, ‘my sister-in-law is on the plane’. All they were concerned about my passport and getting my bag off the plane.”
Ms Barke’s sister-in-law then got off the plane and took the children back with her.
“I was panicking, they’re hysterical. It was hugely traumatic,” Ms Barke added.
“There was no offer of help or assistance. I then had to walk back through the terminal to find my baggage.”
The flight was headed to Palma, the capital of Mallorca, and took off late as a result of the incident.
“I was given very little time, support or options in a very upsetting and stressful situation, 16 minutes before the flight was about to depart,” Ms Barke told the Independent.
“The system is flawed. If check in only requires the expiry date of a passport when in actual fact it’s the issue date that it boils down to, and subsequently can result in this kind of horrendous situation, the aviation industry has some big changes to put in place.”
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “This passenger was correctly denied travel as her passport did not meet the entry requirements for travel to the EU (Spain).
“Once advised by our handling agents in London Stansted that she was not permitted to take this flight to Spain with her two children, the passenger advised our handling agents that her sister-in-law was also taking the same flight and could accompany her two children on the flight.
“Her sister-in-law returned to the airport terminal to collect this passenger’s two children, and accompanied them on the flight to Palma.
“This passenger’s claim that the staff did not make rigorous checks to allow the children fly without her is completely false. This passenger – the children’s parent – directly authorised that her sister-in-law could accompany them.
“At no time were these children unaccompanied and as the permission was provided directly from the children’s parent, they were permitted to travel with the passenger’s sister-in-law.”
Ms Barke managed to obtain an emergency appointment for a same-day passport renewal, before travelling to Palma on August 2.
However, she lost around £500 due to a missed flight and having to book another.