Denied Boarding due to 'faulty' passport

m.sunny

Registered User
Messages
18
Hi everyone - My husband was denied boarding by Aer Lingus (travelling to US) some weeks ago, because the check-in desk deemed his passport faulty (lamination was slighltly seperated from the paper) and corners a little dog-eared (passport 9 years old). The agent at the Ticket Desk (when we tried to re-organise flights) didnt see enough of a problem with the passport, but could not overide the decision of Check-in Desk. Aer Lingus explained they were not willing to risk recieving a 20k fine from US immigration should we be turned back, and i do understand this.
The upsetting part is this was actually our honeymoon, which we had saved hard for and were looking foward to after all the wedding stress. As we could not organise a new passport in time to meet our Cruise (which was departing the day after), we lost it.
Would we have any comeback on this at all? I know some people might say it was our own fault, but we have travelled on the same passport (in the same state) and nothing has ever been mentioned before of its state.
The insurance said they wouldnt cover it either.
Has anyone been in a similar situation and had a happy ending?
Thanks,
M.Sunny
 

foxylady

Registered User
Messages
1,461
Hi everyone - My husband was denied boarding by Aer Lingus (travelling to US) some weeks ago, because the check-in desk deemed his passport faulty (lamination was slighltly seperated from the paper) and corners a little dog-eared (passport 9 years old). The agent at the Ticket Desk (when we tried to re-organise flights) didnt see enough of a problem with the passport, but could not overide the decision of Check-in Desk. Aer Lingus explained they were not willing to risk recieving a 20k fine from US immigration should we be turned back, and i do understand this.
The upsetting part is this was actually our honeymoon, which we had saved hard for and were looking foward to after all the wedding stress. As we could not organise a new passport in time to meet our Cruise (which was departing the day after), we lost it.
Would we have any comeback on this at all? I know some people might say it was our own fault, but we have travelled on the same passport (in the same state) and nothing has ever been mentioned before of its state.
The insurance said they wouldnt cover it either.
Has anyone been in a similar situation and had a happy ending?
Thanks,
M.Sunny

That is an abolutely awful thing to happen , have you tried contacting the national consumer agency to see what rights you have if any. Why not ring Joe Duffy as well and tell him your story.
 

Papercut

Registered User
Messages
473
Does one not need a biometric passport to trave to the US?
Only if the passport was issued after 26th October 2005.

m.sunny: Would you by any chance be covered by credit card insurance for either the flights or the cruise?
 

jhegarty

Registered User
Messages
2,936
Unless you have insurance I don't think you have any options here. The airline have a right to deny boarding for a faulty passport.
 

m.sunny

Registered User
Messages
18
Hi OP here again.

NO, we did not try any avenues yet other than ringing the Insurance Company, who swiftly said we were entitled to nothing.

RE Credit Card insurance - It is not something we avail of on the credit card, as we don't use the Credit Card that often.

Unfortunately, in the moment itself with all the upset and shock, neither of us had the mind to stand our ground with the Check-in Supervisor. We were also the 2nd couple that morning that were refused boarding over the same matter, by the same girl!

I will try the National Consumer Agency - thanks for that tip...
 

Sunny

Registered User
Messages
4,106
Hi OP here again.


RE Credit Card insurance - It is not something we avail of on the credit card, as we don't use the Credit Card that often.

Purchases are sometimes automatically covered if purchased by credit card. I don't think you will be covered but no harm trying. It's horrible but I don't think there much you can do after the fact. I don't understand why Aer Lingus wouldn't let you at least try and clear US immigration in Dublin with the passport. I didn't think the fines were that strict but I suppose we operate in new times with regard to travelling to the US
 

m.sunny

Registered User
Messages
18
Purchases are sometimes automatically covered if purchased by credit card. I don't think you will be covered but no harm trying. It's horrible but I don't think there much you can do after the fact. I don't understand why Aer Lingus wouldn't let you at least try and clear US immigration in Dublin with the passport. I didn't think the fines were that strict but I suppose we operate in new times with regard to travelling to the US

Thanks Sunny - I know it seems to have become incredibly strict. The supervisor did indeed say we could 'chance it', but it was likely we would just be put on another plane home straight away.. they emphasised this as opposed to just going through US immigration in Dublin Airport.
I've just been onto the Aviation Regulator who were quite helpful, so hopefully something may be salvageable.. and I will look into the credit card angle also, thanks for that..
 

jhegarty

Registered User
Messages
2,936
. I don't understand why Aer Lingus wouldn't let you at least try and clear US immigration in Dublin with the passport.

The airline gets a very large fine for sending someone with a faulty passport.

Not sure if that applies to immigration cleated in Dublin, but not all flights go through this.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
Messages
43,281
In effect, you did not have a valid passport.

I don't really understand why anyone is suggesting that you contact anyone other than the Passport Office to get a new passport?

It does not matter that it was your honeymoon.

As you say yourself, it was your own fault. It is not the fault of the Cruise Company. The Credit Card company should not have to compensate you for not turning up.

Brendan
 

Purple

Registered User
Messages
10,826
My passport was in a bad state a while ago (it took a trip through the washing machine) and the lamination was coming away from the paper. The Are Lingus check-in lady told me to go and buy some superglue and glue it back together... which I did. I've been to the USA twice since.
 

Papercut

Registered User
Messages
473
It is not the fault of the Cruise Company. The Credit Card company should not have to compensate you for not turning up.

Brendan
Brendan, some credit card holders (MBNA GoldCard holders are one example) are automatically insured for certain travel mishaps provided that they have paid for their travel using their card. I'm not sure of the ins & outs of exactly what's actually covered, but if there was an 'unforeseen circumstances' clause or something like that, a cardholder might be able to claim against missing a cruise because of not being able to get to the departure point. The odds of this being the case for the OP are slim, & is grasping at straws, but I suppose there would be no harm in them looking into it, just in case.
 
R

RIAD_BSC

Guest
In effect, you did not have a valid passport.

I don't really understand why anyone is suggesting that you contact anyone other than the Passport Office to get a new passport?

It does not matter that it was your honeymoon.

As you say yourself, it was your own fault. It is not the fault of the Cruise Company. The Credit Card company should not have to compensate you for not turning up.

Brendan

I'm not sure it is as simple as this. Aer Lingus arbitrarily decided that the passport was faulty (is it the competent authority to decide?), but because OP had travelled on the same passport recently with no other troubles, other airlines arbitrarily decided it wasn't faulty. Which airline is right and which is wrong? Maybe it really wasn't sufficiently faulty to be deemed invalid? Maybe Aer Lingus made the wrong call (to cover its own backside) and cost the OP a honeymoon?

I once went through US immigration at Dublin airport when flying to JFK, and my passport was similarly damaged. The INS guy (an ex marine, by the look of him) pointed out the damage but let me through anyway. Go figure.

The OP could craft an argument on the basis that the passport was deemed fine by other airlines, and seek compensation on this basis.

Failing that, an earlier poster suggested contacting Joe Duffy. This is a really good idea. From a media standpoint, it is a great story: airline bureaucracy that infuriates travellers, a missed honeymoon, a bride in tears, an uncaring airline that refuses to compensate, an excuse for the media to lay into Aer Lingus....

I'm not making a value judgement on the rights or wrongs of the case, but my advice to the OP is to pursue it further, targeting the airline (not the insurance company).
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
Messages
43,281
Failing that, an earlier poster suggested contacting Joe Duffy. This is a really good idea. From a media standpoint, it is a great story: airline bureaucracy that infuriates travellers, a missed honeymoon, a bride in tears, an uncaring airline that refuses to compensate, an excuse for the media to lay into Aer Lingus....

But that is the whole point. Why on earth should the rest of us have to pay for someone's carelessness? Because he let his new bride down?

We are not talking mindless bureaucracy here. We are talking about airline security. This is not a topic for Joe Duffy.
 

hunter09

Registered User
Messages
17
Really feel for OP especially in those circustances! Happened me once in Turkey, I used a passport that had baby oil spilt on it, the Turks weren't happy with the translucent pages (or my explanation) but after lots of pleading and a few tears, they did let me in eventually. Still I felt hugely vulnerable, you don't realise how important the thing is until question marks are raised.
 

Brendan Burgess

Founder
Messages
43,281
Aer Lingus arbitrarily decided that the passport was faulty (is it the competent authority to decide?), but because OP had travelled on the same passport recently with no other troubles, other airlines arbitrarily decided it wasn't faulty. Which airline is right and which is wrong? Maybe it really wasn't sufficiently faulty to be deemed invalid?
This is a nine year old passport.
It presumably has been deteriorating gradually over recent years.
It has now reached a state where it might not be acceptable to the Americans.
If they deemed it so, Aer Lingus would have to send him back home at their expense and pay a €20,000 fine.

Why should they take the risk? The OP's husband should have renewed their passport.

It is not relevant that he has travelled on this before.
It might be in worse condition now.
Do the other countries to which he has travelled also fine the airline €20,000?
 

Pee

Registered User
Messages
363
I'm not trying to pour fule on the fire but I'm with Brendan on this, a passport has an expiry date but it can be replaced at any time especially if it looks tampered with in any way.

Why should we pick up the costs (becasue that's what happens when someone gets compensation) due to a fault passport being presented for boarding.
 

babaduck

Registered User
Messages
364
Having watched more than my fair share of those Border Patrol & Border Security programmes on the tv, a damaged passport is a red flag to immigration & 9 times out of 10 means it's been altered in some way. Legally it is your responsiblity to keep your passport in good order and of all countries, the US is one I'd not mess with, especially as you need permission to enter (unlike the EU states). If you are refused entry to a country, the airline who carried you is held liable & fined heavily. I'm really sorry for you both as a ruined honeymoon must be devastating, but legally nobody is responsible for your loss except the passport holder
 
R

RIAD_BSC

Guest
But that is the whole point. Why on earth should the rest of us have to pay for someone's carelessness? Because he let his new bride down?

We are not talking mindless bureaucracy here. We are talking about airline security. This is not a topic for Joe Duffy.

I said I wasn't going to make a value judgement on the rights and wrongs of the case, although you are clearly taking a different approach, which is of course your right. And I respect that.

But this is also an advice forum, and the Duffy thing is part of my advice to the OP - and I think it is good advice. Sometimes I believe we can all get too indignant with these "we'll all have to pay it" refrain. Why only judge? Should we not advise too? That's why the OP logged on to AAM, after all: for advice, not a lecture.

The OP is perfectly entitled to make a case for compensation, on the basis that Aer Lingus may have made a mistake in declaring the passport invalid. This could very well be the case. AL is not a passport authority, and an independent arbitrator might come to a different conclusion than AL's check-in staff on the validity of the passport. Or it might not, but who are we to judge?

Also, none of us here have seen the passport, so we cannot say for sure whether it is invalid. It could be fine, and the AL staff may have over-reacted. And I think the fact that other airlines saw fit to accept the passport in the recent past is perfectly relevant, and should form part of the OP's argument when seeking compensation.

But that's just my advice.
 
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