The saga of the easyJet passenger who dropped her passport on board a flight was remarkably similar to my experience with Ryanair, only this airline’s handling of it was more troubling.
On a flight from Dublin to Mallorca I left my passport on another seat while putting my luggage into an overhead locker. The passenger handed it to a crew member before take-off but, when I asked for it back, I was told it had been removed from the aircraft before take-off. When we landed I was assured the document could be put on the next flight out and I should wait in arrivals. However, Ryanair staff then told me a passport can’t be sent without its owner.
I was kept in a secure immigration area for six hours until airport police allowed me to pass through immigration on the condition that I go directly to the UK consulate and obtain emergency documents.
On my return to Dublin I found out that Ryanair did not have a passenger manifest on board, so the passport could not be checked against a list of passenger names. Because the doors had been sealed by the time it was discovered, the captain handed it out of his cockpit window to ground staff.
I just receive the stock response from Ryanair that they do not take responsibility for lost property. TS, London
Ryanair repeats the same stock response to me. “It is each individual passenger’s responsibility to ensure that they carry their belongings with them at all times, and all items found on board are handed to the lost property office at the airport,” it says.
The trouble is, Ryanair did take responsibility for your lost property in that it removed it from the plane and put it in the care, apparently, of a random member of ground staff. If it hadn’t, you would have been reunited with it within minutes. And the document never reached lost property.
Ryanair confirms that lists of passenger names are kept by ground staff and only a record of the numbers travelling are taken on board flights.
EU rules state that documentation such as passenger manifests which may be required by the countries an aircraft is flying between should be carried on board, and the Civil Aviation Authority, which regulated flights to and from the UK, says it would expect full lists to accompany all flights.
Airlines are free to follow their own procedures but, whereas easyJet – in the parallel case I featured – admitted that cabin crew should hand passports back to the relevant passenger when possible, and awarded them a free holiday as compensation, Ryanair remains intransigent.
It’s worrying that, in this age of heightened security, airlines can be so cavalier with identity documents.
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