The Telegraph . Sun, January 3, 2021, 2:27 PM GMT+1
British residents of EU countries are being prevented from boarding flights back after spending Christmas in the UK because of incorrect interpretations of residency rules and paperwork by airlines.
On Saturday, at least nine people were prevented from boarding a BA/Iberia flight from Heathrow to Madrid despite having the right residency papers. The Telegraph found that a similar problem affected British citizens due to fly from Manchester to Pisa with Ryanair.
The problem stems from a requirement to demonstrate residency of the EU country concerned due to a ban on non-essential travel from the UK as a Covid safety measure.
Caitlin Procter said she had been barred from flying to Pisa by Ryanair staff, who told her she must have either an Italian passport or a photo-ID residency card, when she tried to board her flight from Manchester Airport on Saturday.
But Dr Procter said Italian government guidelines on who could travel were “crystal clear” and include people who work in Italy and possess an older type of residency document that does not have a photo.
She also had a copy of her work contract as a professor at the European University Institute in Florence but was not allowed to board the plane, a fate she said also befell up to 30 others due to catch the same flight.
“I travelled home to Sheffield to be with my Mum at Christmas,” Dr Procter said. “I followed all the rules, and it’s ridiculous that airlines somehow have the authority to decide who can travel.
“It’s a rude wake-up to Brexit. There are no other direct flights to Pisa for weeks, and I will have to pay £160 again for another Covid test as the one I have won’t be valid from Monday, which is when I am due back at work.”
Dr Procter said she had applied for the photo-ID card Italy is offering its British residents, but there is a three-month backlog in issuing them.
Ryanair did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On the same day, the British Embassy in Spain put out a statement after a similar problem at Heathrow, where BA staff did not allow a number of UK residents in Spain to board their flight home and made the same argument about photo-ID residency cards.
Spain introduced the TIE photo-ID card for British residents last summer, but has consistently stressed that the precursor green paper documents remain valid proof of residency and acquired rights.
The embassy put out a social media statement responding to the reported bar on residents returning to Spain with their green paper documents, which said: “This should not be happening.”