Easyjet told a Scottish mother and daughter stranded in London after having their belongings stolen that they needed to “visit their embassy” if they wanted to fly home to Scotland.
Dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton and her nine-year-old daughter, Erin, were on a holiday to the UK capital in July when Dr Ruxton’s bag was taken while they ate lunch in a Covent Garden restaurant - containing her driving licence, cash and debit cards.
Police told Dr Ruxton she would still be able to fly if she presented the airline with a police report into the theft, but easyJet said they would refuse to let the family onto the plane without photographic ID - and told Dr Ruxton she would need to visit her local embassy to obtain “alternative travel documents”.
Dr Ruxton, from Cupar, said: “The police officer dealing with the case told me that there was no legal reason why I shouldn’t be able to fly home – despite having no personal ID – as long as I quoted my crime reference number.
“I called Easyjet customer services on 2 July to explain the issue and give prior notice that I would be quoting my crime reference number at the desk in Luton. However, I was shocked to hear that Easyjet would not permit me to travel. Instead, I was advised to go to my ‘embassy’. I explained that I was a UK citizen and, hence, had no embassy in London. The customer services person then told me to go to the passport office – even though I had not lost my passport.”
Desperate to catch her flight home, Dr Ruxton visited the passport office as instructed, despite the fact her passport had been left safely at home in Scotland.
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She said: “As predicted, they told me that, since I had not lost my passport and needed no ID to return to Scotland, they could do nothing for me. I even tried to contact DVLA to obtain another driving licence but was told that I had to apply online and it would take a week to arrive - at my home address.”
EasyJet’s customer service team repeatedly told Dr Ruxton that customers are always advised to “validate their travel documents with the local embassy” and that she had needed to obtain an emergency travel document from consular staff - despite her telling them that she was a British citizen and was in the UK.
She was forced to borrow money from a work colleague living in London and bought a rail fare to Scotland - at a cost of £150.
After directly contacting Easyjet’s head of customer relations, John Leighton, via LinkedIn on her return, the customer service team eventually offered Dr Ruxton a £50 voucher, but reiterated that she should have visited her embassy in London - and had refused to follow their advice.
Dr Ruxton said: “I declined the voucher. All I want is for them to say ‘Sorry for giving you the wrong advice’ and refund me the £150 I had to pay out for my train fare.
“The Easyjet ‘line to take’ – that a UK citizen living in Scotland who has been a victim of crime should have to go to an embassy to prove their identity in order to get home – displays a worrying lack of understanding about the nature of the United Kingdom and a lack of care for customers.”
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The UK Government confirmed that there was no British Embassy in London for British citizens.
A spokesman for EasyJet said: "We are sorry that Mrs Ruxton and her daughter were unable to travel on their flight on 4 July and were incorrectly informed, as a UK citizen, to contact the embassy.
"It was correct, however, that photo ID is required as they had hold luggage and so this is required for safety reasons. This meant the documentation she had was not sufficient to be able to travel. We are sorry for their experience and have already provided a voucher as a goodwill gesture."
He added: "The safety and security of our passengers and crew is easyJet's highest priority. We will also refund their return ticket to apologise for the inconvenience."