Don’t get caught in the passport trap – a cautionary tale!

Passports

January is one of the busiest times of the year in the Travel industry, our screens are full of images of exotic beaches, families having fun in the sun and a multitude of inspiring places to visit. The excitement of Christmas and New Year is waning and people are keen to find something new, fun and exciting to look forward to, and a holiday is quite often top of that list, and this got me thinking about something that I experienced last year.

While sat relaxing by the pool on a recent family holiday in Cyprus we couldn’t help overhearing a phone conversation the young woman sat next to us was having. Her voice was raised, frantic, quivering. She was obviously agitated and upset. When the conversation ended she had a look of shock, disbelief and confusion.

With my wife’s maternal instincts kicking in, she went over to see if everything was OK and if there was anything we could do to help. The young woman broke down in a fit of tears explaining she was in Cyprus for her best friends’ wedding and the person she had just been talking to, the chief bridesmaid, had called her in a panic, she was stuck at the airport back in the UK having just been told she couldn’t get on her flight out to Cyprus…. She had been caught in the Passport Trap!!

Since Brexit the rules for UK Passport holders’ entry into many countries have changed and, although the poor bridesmaid’s passport hadn’t passed its official expiry date, it didn’t meet the entry requirements for Cyprus. The airline had no choice but to refuse her boarding the flight.

Travelling the world is an exhilarating experience, it broadens our horizons, exposes us to diverse cultures and helps recharge the batteries. However, amidst the excitement of planning that much needed trip abroad, one crucial detail that often slips through the cracks is the age of our passports and the entry requirements of the countries we are visiting.

I know that many people will take a casual look at the expiry dates on their passport, see a date beyond the date they are due to come home and think they are fine but, as important if not more so these days, it is the date of issue we need to look at! Most countries base their entry requirements on the date a passport has been issued and not the expiry date!!

Whenever we book a trip for our clients here at Designer Travel by Simon Collinge, I always ask my clients to send me their passport details at the earliest possible opportunity, sometimes before I even confirm the booking. Doing this means that not only can we add the information into the airline and tour operator API systems and allow us to check them in for their flights but also, we have the opportunity to double check everyone’s passports meet all the requirements needed for wherever they may be travelling and that they have time to sort out any potential issues before it’s too late.

Sadly, the bridesmaid never made the wedding. Following a number of frantic calls to various agencies, passport offices and other people, nobody could help. It was a Saturday morning and, despite her best efforts to try and get an emergency appointment at the London passport office round the corner from where she lived, the first appointment that was available, country wide, was in Belfast, at 4pm the following Tuesday, 2 hours after the wedding ceremony had finished!

Failing to have a valid passport for any trip abroad can lead to a myriad of perils, potentially turning that dream trip into an inescapable nightmare, exactly as happened to the bridesmaid so, if you are thinking of booking a holiday soon - don’t get caught in the passport trap!

Enjoyed this? Read more from Designer Travel by Simon Collinge

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