Family blocked from going on summer holiday because easyJet staff wrongly refuse passport

May Bulman
The family of six had been setting off on a week-long already paid for package holiday to Antalya in Turkey when Sultana Begen (second left) was told her passport may not be valid, causing the family to miss the flight

A family was prevented from going on their summer holiday when airport staff wrongly disputed the mother’s immigration status and stopped them boarding their flight.

EasyJet apologised after Saleh Ahmed’s family missed their flight to Turkey because staff at Gatwick did not recognise the Indefinite Leave to Remain (IDLR) stamp on his wife’s passport.

UK Border Force officials later confirmed that the travel document was in fact valid.

EasyJet said it would transfer the family onto another flight, but at the time of publication the family were still at their east London home.

The family of six, including four children aged five, nine, 11 and 14, had been setting off on a week long package holiday to Antalya.

Mr Ahmed, 37, told The Independent his children were left “traumatised” by the experience. He said his wife Sultana Begen, a 37-year-old Bangladeshi national, had been in the UK since 1988 and travelled in and out of the country multiple times with no issues.

"We were two families going on holiday together. We had checked in and were going to the gate, but our friends got in while the six of us were stopped because they questioned my wife’s Bangladeshi passport,” he said.

“She has a correct visa. She’s travelled in and out of the UK with this passport many times before. But the woman on the gate didn’t understand the IDLR stamp. It was a shock for us. I tried to explain that she had been through Heathrow and Gatwick with this stamp with no issue whatsoever many times before, but they denied us on board."

Mr Ahmed said his family were left waiting on the floor in the airport for more than two hours after missing their flight due to the questions over Ms Begen's passport

He added: “My five and nine and 11 year old were really upset. My daughter was crying. They’ve been left traumatised by what happened.”

Mr Ahmed said that after they had missed the flight staff took the family to customer services, where they waited on the floor outside the office for two and a half hours with no refreshments.

They were then told they should go home and wait for them to get in touch.

“This was a family holiday which we don’t often do because I have a busy job. We were really looking forward to it. We had booked the hotel, everything was paid. We’d been planning this for a long time," he said.

“My wife has been discriminated against. It looked like the staff at the gate were inexperienced and not specialised in immigration control. They haven't offered us another flight."

An easyJet spokesperson said the carrier "can only allow a passenger to travel on their flight if their documentation has passed all checks.

They added: "On this occasion, easyJet ground staff requested assistance from a UK Border Force official. “The passenger was then approved to travel and we are making contact with them to ensure they are transferred onto another flight free of charge. The safety and security of all passengers and staff is easyJet’s highest priority. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience.”

The Home Office did not comment but a spokesperson advised that the department provided no guidance to airlines on passport checks for passengers leaving the UK beyond the confirmation of the authenticity of the document.