These Are Your Rights If You Were Denied Boarding By EasyJet Over Passport Expiry
Britain’s biggest budget airline has removed its misleading advice on UK passport validity for trips to the EU: easyJet now appears aligned with European Commission rules and no longer imposes harsh conditions of its own invention.
But in the five months between easyJet being told the post-Brexit rules and the airline aligning with them, ground staff have wrecked the travel plans of thousands of passengers by turning them away needlessly.
Those travellers can now seek recompense from the airline.
What are the rules on passport validity for Europe?
As a result of Brexit, UK passport holders face two tests for entering the Schengen Area comprising almost all of the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.
- One is about the issue date: on the day of arrival the passport must be less than 10 years old.
- The other is about the expiry date: on the intended day of departure from the Schengen Area, it must have at least three months remaining.
Those two conditions are independent, as the European Commission confirmed in November 2021.
A passenger with a British passport issued on 1 May 2012 and expiring on 1 November 2022 can travel to the Schengen Area up to 30 April 2022.
What did easyJet do differently?
The airline, along with Ryanair and the UK government, invented and imposed harsh rules that are believed to have seen thousands of passengers denied boarding. The basic premise was that the two passport conditions were “cumulative” – in other words, the passport could be no older than nine years and nine months on the date of travel.
It is baffling why they should have arrived at this conclusion; while the actual European legislation is loosely worded and possibly open to misinterpretation, a discussion with the Migration and Home Affairs department of the European Commission was all that was needed to be sure of the rules.
On Monday this week, five months after The Independent passed on all the relevant official correspondence to the UK’s leading airlines, easyJet was still turning away properly documented passengers – and making the absurd online statement about travel to the EU that “on your day of travel you’ll need your passport to have at least six months left on it”.
The airline has now changed its online information to comply with the rules and confirmed to The Independent that the correct policy will be followed from today.
I was denied boarding by easyJet. What are my rights?
First, establish whether the decision was appropriate. In a fair number of cases investigated by The Independent, easyJet ground staff correctly turned passengers away. If your British passport has celebrated its 10th birthday, you will not be admitted to Europe.
That UK passport issued on 1 May 2012 or before is worthless for getting into the Schengen Area from 1 May 2022, regardless of the remaining time.
(Please note that no other nations beside the EU are known to take issue dates into consideration.)
I have checked all the dates and I should have been allowed in. What do I do now?
Begin a claim against the airline.
The first step is this online form for claiming the denied boarding cash compensation that is due for anyone wrongly turned away. It is a simple legal entitlement that is in addition to all other recompense.
The amount is £220 for flights of under 1,500km (as far as London-Budapest) and £350 for longer flights.
You can claim for everyone on the same booking – but note that easyJet could argue that other people would be able to travel and they actually chose not to. This has not, to the best of my knowledge, been tested in court.
Get your air fare refunded. If you flew with another airline at a higher fare then claim for this ticket – easyJet can subtract your original payment from the bill.
All other expenses should be claimed on this form. It is intended to be the claim portal for “any personal expenses you have occurred due to a cancelled, diverted or delayed flight” but it should fit the bill.
What can I claim for?
If you lost a package holiday, then the organiser of that trip – whether easyJet Holidays or another company – should refund the whole amount. The contract for delivery of the holiday was not fulfilled by the firm (because of easyJet’s mistake in not allowing you to commence the holiday) and you are due all your money back.
For independent trips, denied-boarding passengers are likely to be able to claim for the costs they lost for elements such as accommodation and car rental. The airline, not unreasonably, will want full receipts – and may ask for confirmation that the payment was not partially or fully refundable.
easyJet’s policy made me pay for an emergency passport and travel hundreds of miles for an urgent renewal
The airlines’ misrepresentation of the European rules has caused many travellers to renew their passports needlessly – adding to pressure on the overstretched passport offices.
Section 49 of the Consumer Rights Act 201 obliges easyJet to supply its service to you “with reasonable care and skill”. While it is extremely good at flying planes safely, the airline also has an implicit obligation to provide accurate information about what you need to avail of its excellent transportation.
People who made long journeys and paid a premium for fast-track passport renewals because easyJet wrongly told them they would be turned away can cite this law and claim from the airline.
A fair settlement for the claim would be the difference between the £177 paid compared with a standard renewal fee of £75.50 – plus travel expenses and possibly lost wages.
My passport is stuck in the backlog and I’ve lost my holiday – but it turns out it was valid all along
You were not denied boarding, so there is no obligation for cash compensation. But a claim for other costs could succeed.
What about the distress caused?
In legal matters of travel, the emotional toll of a company’s behaviour is not typically considered in a claim.
But if, for example, easyJet wrecked a vital family trip, a lawyer might argue than additional compensation is due.
What does the airline say?
A spokesperson for easyJet said: “We are always reviewing the information we provide on travel requirements to ensure we’re making this as clear as possible for our customers.
“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.
“Should a passenger submit a claim for denied boarding, which can be done via a simple webform on our website, our team would review and respond based on the particular circumstances of their individual case.
“As with other individual cases we’ve been made aware of where denied boarding compensation is due we will of course provide this, in addition to a full refund or rerouting expenses where required.”
What if easyJet declines my claim?
Write a polite Letter Before Action: explain that if you have not received a satisfactory settlement within 14 days you will take the case to Money Claim Online. A claim for between £500.01 and £1,000 costs £70. If you win, the fee is repaid.