A mother was forced to fly out on an all-inclusive £3.5k luxury holiday without her 10-year-old daughter after a passport mix-up.
Samantha O’Connor, from Dublin, had booked the two-week break – the family’s first trip way together for two years – without realising that time was ticking down on her little girl’s documentation.
Her daughter Ellen’s passport was due to run out just days before the holiday but despite huge efforts to sort the paperwork out in time, she was left at home.
Samantha even contacted local politicians to speed the process along, hoping they could help her get the travel documents sorted,.
Samantha and Ellen O’Connor
(Image: Samantha O’Connor)
She told DublinLive: “We were making sure we had everything sorted when we realised the child’s passport had expired. It was a renewal – it’s not like she hasn’t had a passport. She’s had two passports previously.
“I couldn’t put my holiday forward because I’d have to give five working days to do that.”
Samantha said she had to leave young Ellen with her aunt due to having no other options. However, Ellen and her dad managed to get on a later flight once the passport arrived and they met the others, a week later, in Greece.
But Samantha said the family holiday was ruined by the stress of worrying whether it would arrive in time.
“I flew out with my other daughter here on Saturday,” Samantha told Dublin Live from Kolymbia on the Greek island, Rhodes.
“My husband could follow us out with her on the second week. But my whole first week of the holiday went sitting by the phone waiting and checking emails.”
Samantha said they couldn’t have cancelled the £3,500 holiday as that cash would’ve been lost. The youngster was distraught that she missed out such a large chunk of the holiday, Samantha said.
“I had to leave my ten-year-old with my sister because we paid €4,000 (£3,500) for this holiday,” she said. “We went all inclusive. It’s our first holiday in two years and it never happened for her.
“She was devastated at the beginning. I was devastated. I was inconsolable even going out on the flight because of the thoughts of leaving her behind.”
The mum said due to working a lot during the pandemic she had little quality time to spend with her children.
“This holiday was a way of doing something together as a family again,” she said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs told the Dublin Live: “ The turnaround time for applications such as child renewals and first time applicants begins only when we receive all required supporting documentation.
“When an application has been correctly completed and all documentation has been received the Passport Service is making every effort to issue passports as quickly as possible.”
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This came just after people who still have the ‘old style’ burgundy red passports were warned of a change that could leave them unable to travel.
Since Brexit a new blue passport has started being issued with the lettering ‘British Passport’ and without any reference to the EU.
Thousands of people have still been able to use their red passports, however, if they’re in date. But due to changes in rules around expiry dates, passports are now only valid for 10 years exactly – additional months are no longer valid.
What does the UK government say?
The government advises you check your passport is valid before you travel abroad.
An online questionnaire helps you check if you need to renew your passport before travelling to an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. You can fill in the form here.
The government also advises that if you’re travelling to another country, you check the entry requirements of the country you’re visiting to find out if you need to renew your passport.
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