British expats ‘barred from boarding flight as ID documents not valid post-Brexit’
Written by on 3 January 2021
A number of British expats hoping to return to their homes in Spain say they have been stopped from boarding their flight at Heathrow Airport.
Two airlines have reportedly claimed their proof of residency documents were no longer valid after the end of the Brexit transition period with the EU on 31 December.
Spain has banned all travel from Britain except for its nationals and UK citizens with residency rights.
Spanish and British authorities have said a green-coloured certificate of EU citizenship with a foreign national identification number issued by Spain is still valid for British nationals residing in Spain.
But British Airways and Iberia staff have reportedly refused to allow some people to travel to the country over the past two days.
Patricia Moody, 69, was among seven British residents of Spain unable to board a Madrid-bound BA/Iberia flight from Heathrow on Saturday.
Mrs Moody, who for nearly four years has called the Spanish town of Zurgena in Almeria home, said: “Absolutely gutted. Gutted. Because my husband’s not well. Yeah, it’s spoilt it all.
“We’re going home. Spain is home. We class it as home. And my husband is in urgent need of medical care, which we’re running out of tablets, so we need to be home.”
Mrs Moody later said she and her husband spent GBP1,900 getting tested for the virus, travelling to the airport and booking new tickets after staff refused to allow them to board their first flight.
“We’ve been in touch with the airline, we’ve done the COVID test, we’ve stayed at the Sofitel (hotel) for the rest period, 24 hours, and nothing”, Kenneth Moody added.
A later attempt to board, after the couple were interviewed, also proved futile.
Kristian Goode, who works for an engineering firm and lives in Madrid with his wife Alicia, was also bemused.
“I was just on the phone to the British Consulate in Madrid and you get diverted to a London number”, Mr Goode said.
“They’ve logged it with the Spanish authorities, but they can’t tell us whether they’ll get a reply,” he continued.
Spain has been rolling out a new system called TIE to register permanent foreign residents. But there has been a backlog due to a high number of requests.
The Spanish ministry of foreign affairs said both proofs of application for the TIE and the “green certificate” for EU citizens were still valid for British residents to travel under new health restrictions in place until 19 January.
The British embassy in Spain said the confusion “should not be happening”.
“The Spanish authorities have today re-confirmed that the green residency document will be accepted for travel to return to Spain, as stated in our travel advice,” it said.
British Airways and Iberia, which are both part of the IAG group, did not immediately respond to written questions from the media.