A fuming father questioned an airline’s policy on indemnity forms for young passengers, after his daughter was refused access to a weekend flight.
Peter Craven’s daughter Lucy, 15, didn’t face any problems when traveling on her own two days earlier.
The teen went from Belfast City Airport to Manchester on a Friday afternoon to visit her older brother.
She was not asked for any extra paperwork before boarding the flight, but when she returned back from Manchester on Sunday, Lucy was refused permission onto the Aer Lingus flight.
Peter told Belfast Live: “When my daughter traveled from Belfast to Manchester on Friday, she checked in online and went through the City Airport on her own. She was not asked for any additional paperwork before boarding the flight to Manchester.
“Lucy was traveling over to see her older brother Rhys, who is at university in Manchester. After they spent the weekend together, Lucy returned to the airport on Sunday for her flight back home to Belfast.
“It was only then that she was refused permission to board at the gate because she was told she needed an indemnity form for young passengers.”
Aer Lingus has confirmed that all unaccompanied young passengers traveling on its flights must complete a form of indemnity and said it is investigating the incident.
Peter added: “Lucy phoned me in distress on Sunday to say she was not being allowed on the plane. I went online and downloaded the relevant form from the Aer Lingus website, completed it and emailed it to her.
“She then showed it to the boarding gate staff in Manchester and I even spoke to the lady on the phone but she said she was not letting my daughter on the plane as the form needed to be completed in person.
“I explained that I was in Belfast but the boarding gate staff demonstrated no willingness to let Lucy on the plane. When I asked to speak to a manager, I was told that wasn’t possible.
“The lady at the boarding gate told me she had already spoken to the duty manager who had agreed not to let my daughter on the plane.
“Lucy called me five minutes later while I was trying to sort the issue out with the Aer Lingus customer support line. She had just seen the plane pull away from the gate but said that no one from the airline explained to her what was happening. “
While on the call to the Aer Lingus support line, Peter was told that the reason Lucy had not needed the form when traveling from Belfast was that she had been accompanied by an adult, which was not in fact the case.
He added: “My wife and I dropped our daughter off at Belfast City Airport on Friday and she went through the airport on her own. She was not asked for any additional paperwork at any point.
“We were not told of any requirement for any additional paperwork – not when we booked the flight when Lucy’s date of birth showed that she was 15, not when we checked in online, when it was clear that a 15-year-old was travelling on her own and not when she took the flight from Belfast to Manchester.”
Peter said Aer Lingus staff in Manchester walked Lucy back to the entrance of the airport, asked her if someone was coming to get her and then left her there.
“Rhys had to head back to Manchester Airport by train to speak to an Aer Lingus member of staff to try and get his sister home the next day,” he added.
“He had to miss important lectures on Monday morning to accompany Lucy back to the airport. This time she had the relevant form, which had been signed by her older brother.
“Lucy texted us later to say she was safely on the plane and after all the fuss, on this occasion no one had asked her for the indemnity form at the departure gate.
“I just don’t understand why the same procedures weren’t followed on all three occasions. The form wasn’t checked in Belfast on Friday but it was on Sunday in Manchester when she was refused access to the flight. Yet again on Monday morning in the same airport, there were no checks carried out,” Peter said.
A spokesperson for Aer Lingus said: “All unaccompanied young passengers traveling on Aer Lingus flights must complete a form of indemnity, as detailed on aerlingus.com
“The airline’s policy is that unaccompanied young passengers without the required form of indemnity will be refused travel. On this occasion, the process was not followed appropriately, we are investigating what happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We apologise to Mr Craven and his daughter for the inconvenience caused and will be issuing them with a voucher for future travel on Aer Lingus.”