A total of 31 people were told they could not go on their pre-booked to Malaga, Spain, as they had no proof of Spanish residency – which, at the time, was required by the Spanish government for people to travel to the country. One passenger said he is now £350 out of pocket and fears he won’t be able to get a refund.
The showdown at East Midlands Airport happened on Friday morning, days before Spain opened its borders to visitors from countries that have low infection rates, including the UK.
Prior to this though, anyone travelling to Spain had to present evidence of Spanish residency at the airport check-in, Derbyshire Live reports.
This was a requirement of the Spanish authorities. Without a residency permit, airlines could not allow passengers to board.
The passenger, who did not wish to be named, said: “I was met [at the airport] by a woman who informed people they would not be travelling unless they had a Spanish passport, proof of an application for residency or a letter from the UK Government saying the trip was essential.
“This led to anger, aggression and tears and three police officers had to oversee discussions. It was a truly shameful situation that caused great distress and large financial losses to some people.”
The man, from Derby, claims he followed all of Ryanair’s instructions on their website and claims he had valid COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
He also claimed he had validated QR Codes from Spain Travel Health for him to go on an essential business trip, as he owns property in the country and had to deal with a number of ongoing issues.
But he says Ryanair did not state on their website the need for either a Spanish residency permit or a letter from the UK Government saying the trip was essential.
The passenger added: “How we can have a validated form from the Spanish Travel Health government site allowing our entry and then be told this isn’t sufficient? This was distressing for many people.
“Ryanair has all customers’ email addresses and telephone numbers so they could have contacted all passengers 24 hours prior to travelling, so this really is shameful and I hope it doesn’t happen to other UK travellers in the future.”
Ryanair has been approached for comment by both Derbyshire Live and Daily Express.
East Midlands Airport, from which the airline operates regular scheduled and charter flights across Europe, said the decision on Friday was taken by the firm’s handling agent.
A spokesman for the hub said: “On Friday, May 21, 31 passengers were refused boarding onto a flight to Malaga for not having a Spanish residency permit.
“The decision, taken by the airline’s handling agent, was in line with the requirements of the Spanish authorities at the time.
“We encourage anyone planning to travel overseas to familiarise themselves with what is required of both the destination country and the UK’s regulations prior to booking flights.”