One of Europe’s leading airlines is wrongly turning away UK passengers whose passports comply with EU rules after Brexit.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines said The independent that he thinks UK passports expire after 10 years, even if the actual expiry date is months later.
This is contrary to European Union rules on the validity of passports for “third country” nationals, as the UK has chosen to do after Brexit.
A British passport must meet two requirements for travel to the EU:
- It must have been issued less than 10 years ago on the day of entry into the EU country
- It must be valid for at least three months after the intended date of return from the EU
The European Commission in Brussels has made it clear that these rules are independent of each other. a passenger with a passport issued on 1 November 2012 could travel to the EU (and the wider Schengen area) at any time until 31 October 2022, as long as the expiry date met the second condition.
But KLM insists that no passport can have been issued more than nine years, nine months ago.
KLM’s policy came to light after a passenger, Robert Banks, was removed from a flight from Newcastle to Amsterdam on July 22, 2022.
His passport was issued on 8 August 2012, allowing him to travel to countries within the EU until 7 August 2022. It expires on 8 April 2023, more than eight months after his intended planned return.
Since he was wrongly denied boarding, Dr. Banks sought statutory damages under European air passenger rights rules, as well as compensation for his airfare and lost accommodation costs.
Dr Banks had spent £3,000 on flights and hotels for himself and his wife for a combined holiday and attending a conference.
As a result of KLM’s decision, the couple had to be given a full refund of their airfare plus cash compensation of £220 per person under European air passenger rights rules.
Dr Banks complained to the airline and received a response from Andreas Possehn of Air France-KLM’s legal affairs department, who wrote: “I can confirm that the rules for entry into the EU/Schengen area are that passports can be valid only 10 years max.
“So for a visit you have to count 10 years minus three months to check the validity to enter Schengen.”
Dr. Banks took his case The independentwhich contacted KLM.
An airline spokesman insisted it was the passenger’s fault, saying: “Rules and regulations are evolving, but the customer was refused boarding because he did not meet the necessary entry requirements.
“It is the passenger’s responsibility to check the necessary entry requirements prior to travel.”
Dr Banks said: “Our experience of being denied boarding can only be described as devastating, especially as we were confident, after checking and rechecking the requirements, that my passport was valid.
“The meeting I was going to attend in Munich was originally scheduled for 2020 but had to be postponed twice due to the pandemic.
“I was due to give the opening paper the following Monday and I missed one of the most important aspects of a scientific meeting, which is direct interaction with colleagues.
“The whole thing felt unreal, a feeling that was only underlined when KLM then reminded us to check in for our flight from Munich to Milan.
“Not only did I miss an important meeting, but we both missed a long-awaited vacation.
“I have flown with KLM many times in the past and have always regarded them as very reliable, so it is particularly concerning to see them deny any responsibility for our traumatic experience.”
The independent asked KLM to provide legal justification for its decision.
Meanwhile, KLM passengers who are properly documented for Europe but whose British passports were issued more than nine years and nine months ago are likely to be turned away by the policy.
They will be able to claim the airline.
The independent has also informed the UK Civil Aviation Authority of the KLM policy.
Until earlier in the year, both easyJet and Ryanair were applying the same incorrect ‘rule’. They are now compensating the passengers they wrongly turned away.