Sharon Dempsey, 66, lost her passport sometime between taking off at Glasgow Airport and landing at Alicante Airport in Spain. The pensioner was forbidden from entering the country by Spanish police and kept overnight at a detention centre while her family frantically tried to get her a flight home.
Sharon’s daughter Adele Dempsey was forced to contact the British Embassy and consulate to get the issue resolved but faced major issues due to language barriers and weekend closures.
Sharon’s brother, with whom she travelled, waited on the other side of passport control until his family suggested he head onto the hotel.
Speaking to Glasgow Live, Adele said: “My mum was kept in a detention centre at the airport, similar to a cell, and wasn’t given anything decent to eat or drink. She had two cold rolls and water and that’s it.
“I know that rules are rules but she was being treated like a criminal – not just someone who had accidentally lost her passport.
“She knows for certain that she had it when she boarded the plane as she had it open in case it needed checked. It wasn’t checked on the plane so she put it back in her bag which was then kept under the seat in front of her.”
Adele added: “It wasn’t until she was on the shuttle bus to the airport that she realised it wasn’t there. She tried to get the shuttle bus back to try and get it but the staff weren’t helpful and said that the cleaners can often throw passports away if they’re left on the flight.
“She started to panic and was explaining what had happened to them in Spanish but the passport couldn’t be found.
“My uncle waited on the other side of passport control and we eventually told him just to go to the hotel and wait it out. My mum was kept there overnight.
“She was obviously really stressed but they didn’t even allow her outside to have a cigarette or give her hot meals.”
Adele spoke to the Consulate who advised her to book a flight back to Glasgow for Sharon after being given emergency documents provided by them.
However, Sharon was prevented from boarding the EasyJet flight home as airport police said they didn’t have the correct document and moved her to the detention centre where she stayed overnight.
Officers told the Glasgow mum that, due to changes in travel rules since Brexit, they now can’t allow entry to Spain without a physical passport to stamp.
Adele added: “There was a chance that she could have to wait there until Wednesday as the emergency travel documents take two days to process and the Embassy in Alicante is closed for the weekend.
“Luckily, after nearly a whole day of not being able to get hold of her, she was finally able to board a flight to London. She was taken by police escort on the plane arm in arm, and back off the same way.
“She was in a terrible state. She said she hadn’t even washed her face and felt so dirty and was left in tears outside Gatwick with another long wait to get back to Glasgow.”
The Home Office confirmed that the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office assisted a woman who had lost her passport on her outbound flight to Spain and, together with Border Force, worked with the Spanish authorities to help facilitate her return to the UK.