easyjet

EasyJet refused to let one passenger fly to Cyprus, because he had less than three months left on his passport - despite the fact that the authorities say that EU passports are valid in Cyprus until the day they expire.

The airline initially defended the decision, before finally admitting it had made a mistake. So what went wrong, and how can you protect yourself from a passport bungle?

Bungle

The passenger approached the Independent Newspaper, after being refused boarding on an easyJet flight from Gatwick to Larnaca, because his passport expires on 14 August this year. He was told it needed to be valid for a full three months after his return date.

He was travelling to a wedding with his fiance. However, she was forced to leave without him, and he was refused permission to travel. His request for a refund of the £300 ticket was also initially turned down.

EasyJet was clearly wrong in this case. The Foreign Office website states that those flying to Cyprus must have a passport that's valid for the duration of the stay. The Association of Greek-Cypriot Travel Agents says on its website: "For British Passport holders and EU members, as long as your passport is valid for duration of your stay in Cyprus, even if you have a couple of days left on your passport when you return back to the UK, you are fine to travel."

There are restrictions for those travelling from outside the EU, who must have a passport for longer and in many cases require a visa. However, since Cyprus joined the EU, there have been far fewer restrictions on EU citizens flying to Cyprus.

EasyJet initially stood by its decision, saying in a statement: "Entry requirements can and do change regularly and differ considerably by the nationality of the arriving passenger. Ultimately, it is the individual passenger's responsibility to ensure that their travel documentation is valid for the country to which they are flying.

"If passengers do not have documentation which complies with the relevant regulations then airlines have no choice but to deny boarding to those passengers. To try to ensure this doesn't happen easyJet reminds our passengers by email to check that their travel documentation is up to date and that their details match the booking information before their trip."

However, according to The Independent, it later backtracked. It said in a statement: "Unfortunately easyJet made an error in Mr Rickard's case and so would like to apologise that he was unable to travel. We will be contacting the passenger directly to remedy the situation."

Protect yourself

All EU countries, and many others including the US, allow travel as long as your passport is valid for your flight home. And given that this sort of bungle is unusual, you may think that you'll be better off waiting for as long as possible before you renew your passport.

However, this isn't necessarily the case. There are some countries which require your passport to be valid long after your visit ends. Thailand, for example, requires your passport to be valid six months after travel, as does Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

This not only applies if these places are your final destination, but also if you have to change planes and you want to leave the airport while you wait for your flight - including overnight stays.

If you find yourself able to take a last-minute trip, and end up scuppered by your passport, you'll kick yourself. You could end up having to visit your passport office in person and pay the fast-track fee, adding a small fortune to the cost of your holiday.

The best approach is that as soon as you have less than nine months left on your passport, you should renew it. As long as there's no more than nine months left on the passport, you'll get credit for all the time outstanding on your current passport. So if you have six months left, your new passport will be valid for ten years and six months.