EasyJet update passport rules — are you owed compensation?
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EasyJet has amended its ‘misleading’ guidance on U.K passport validity, bringing it in line with the official rulings of European officials.
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The change comes following a campaign at The Independent that pushed for the low-cost colossus to update its passport validity rules after they were found to be out of line with EU guidance — causing major and unnecessary disruption to thousands of British families.
Following Brexit, British passport holders (now classed as ‘third country’ nationals within the EU) face two requirements for reaching EU countries: 1) a passport valid for at least three months after the date they intend to leave said E.U. country, and 2) the passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years.
It’s important to know that these two rules are actually independent of each other, meaning you could go to Europe on 1 May 2022 with a passport issued on 2 May 2012 that has an expiry date of 1 November 2022, and stay there until 31 July 2022. However, it seems EasyJet, and other airlines including Ryanair, have misinterpreted these guidelines, imposing tougher rules than necessary.
As a result, air passengers across the British Isles have been left in a state of confusion after being turned away from flights and told they can’t travel. When in fact they should have been able to.
The rule updates now leave the (cabin) door open for EasyJet passengers whose documents were indeed valid when they were denied boarding to bring claims forward against the carrier in addition to statutory denied boarding compensation of £220 (all flights of 1500 kilometres or less) and £350 (all flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres).
One couple from Kent, whose passports actually met the Schengen Area criteria, told The Independent that they were stopped from flying from Gatwick with EasyJet this Monday: “We are sitting at home when right now we should be in Malta. We both have mental health issues and this has caused us to be in a state of emotional distress.”
Another British family to recently foul of the rules this week were the Gurds of Hampshire, who lost over £3000 when officials at Bournemouth Airport (BOH) told mum Nina that her documents were not valid for travel to Portugal, even though her passport actually expires in February 2023, meeting the three months of validity requirement.
“When we were booking our holiday, we were only ever asked for our passport numbers and the expiry dates, nothing else,” her husband John told the BBC. “But the expiry date is apparently meaningless.”
A spokesperson for EasyJet said of its ruling updates: “We are always reviewing the information we provide on travel requirements to ensure we’re making this as clear as possible for our customers and having recently reviewed the guidance provided on government passport validity requirements, we have now updated this on our website to ensure they are clear and to avoid any misinterpretation.”
Even so, EasyJet has not yet explained why it’s taken over five months to change its rules after the European Commission clarified them. It is, however, worth noting that confusion over passport validity rules was also made worse by the U.K. government’s own differing interpretation of the regulation which filtered down to many airlines and airports.
It’s not been a good time of late for the airline which continues to cancel flights at its London Gatwick (LGW) base (hundreds this past few months alone) as a result of chronic understaffing and ongoing COVID-19 issues.
On top of this, it’s also been reported that EasyJet’s mixed messaging sparked enough worry among passengers to put extra pressure put on the continued passport backlog.
Earlier this month, the U.K. government urged travellers not to leave any passport applications to the last-minute in 2022, warning that demand for new passports is now at an all-time high.
During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, HM Passport Office saw a significant drop in new passports when 5 million people delayed their applications throughout 2020 and 2021, but now with travel back in a big way customers are facing bigger waiting times than ever.
And if your passport genuinely doesn’t meet the criteria, take a look at what you need to get a fresh one in good time below…
How should you renew your passport?
You will need to send in your old passport if you are renewing online (or take it in with you if you are applying in person at the Post Office), though the old (cancelled) passport will be returned to you with your new (renewed) passport.
Am I entitled to compensation from easyJet if I was prevented from boarding with a valid passport?
Yes, you are.
Once you’ve double (triple…) checked that your passport was indeed valid to travel on when you were turned away by officials, visit EasyJet’s website and make a compensation claim here.
Under the dropbox for ‘reason of claim’, select ‘denied boarding’, enter the payment method along with the rest of your original booking details, and all going well you’ll be on your way to receiving compensation.
Under European regulations, any passenger travelling to or from the U.K. whose flight is cancelled or delayed by three or more hours (and wasn’t the fault of extraordinary circumstances), are entitled to £220 for flights of 1500 kilometres or less, and £350 for longer flights.
Importantly, you can also claim for everyone on the same booking, turning that £220 into £660 for a family of three.
In addition to flight costs, EasyJet passengers can also claim for other expenses incurred after the denial of a flight, ranging from accommodation costs to car rental. You can click here to make a claim for additional costs. All claims are dealt with on a case by case basis.
Finally, if you booked a package holiday with an independent travel agency, you should be eligible for a full refund from that company as well.
Featured image by Christoph Schmidt/picture alliance via Getty Images.
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