A COUPLE celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary were wrongly barred from boarding a TUI flight over a complicated passport rule.
Melanie and James Bulpitt got right to the gate before being turned away then marched out by security –rendering their £ 1,357 holiday ruined.
The pair, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, had been looking forward to their all-inclusive week in sunny Zakynthos for months.
But they were left “completely floored” when, after uploading their details online, having their passports scanned at check-in, enjoying a meal and drinks in the terminal and queueing up at the doors to the plane, they were told they couldn’t get on.
Mel, 48, whose passport expires in February 2023, said: “I felt sick. We were both completely devastated.
“As far as I was concerned, my passport was well within the dates, it doesn’t expire until next year.
“We had a meal and a couple of drinks like you do after you check in thinking everything was brilliant and then we had that.
“We were completely floored.”
Mel and James, 47, were then escorted through the airport and out of the doors by security before a depressing journey home.
“Oh my God, I felt like a criminal,” Mel said.
“We had security walking us back through the airport. It was dreadful.
“They had to retrieve our suitcases off the plane and the staff were really quite rude.
“They basically told us,’you need to go’. We were shocked.”
Before Brexit, British passports were valid for travel within the EU up to and including their expiry date.
But since the UK left, passports must now have at least three months remaining on their expiry.
They also must have been issued within the last 10 years.
The confusing rules mean you could be blocked from traveling within the EU if your passport is set to expire within three months of your holiday, or if it was issued more than 10 years ago.
Mel’s passport expires in February 2023, and the issue date was May 5, 2012, so she should have been allowed to board.
She repeatedly checked the requirements before heading to Bournemouth Airport on May 2 so was adamant she was safe.
‘WE WERE FLOORED’
“I looked into it extensively and they are definitely in the wrong,” Mel said.
“But they are refusing to compensate us or help us book another holiday.
“They told me I should have checked the validity of my documents, but I did.
“As far as I was concerned, I was able to fly.
“I’ve challenged them and I’m still waiting for a reply.”
After heading home close to tears, the married couple decided to book a few days away in the New Forest as there is just one flight a week from Bournemouth to Zante.
And while it is “beautiful”, it is nothing compared to the luxury relaxation they were gearing up for at their adults-only resort in Greece.
“It is really nice in the New Forest but it’s nothing like we were expecting to have,” Mel said.
“It was going to be a lovely, relaxing, sunny holiday.”
A TUI spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry to hear of Mr and Mrs Bulpitt’s experience.
“We will be contacting the customers directly to offer our apologies and a full refund for the holiday cost.”