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BA refuses boarding back to UK despite OK from Immigration Authorities

BA refuses boarding back to UK despite OK from Immigration Authorities

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Old Nov 25, 18, 6:18 pm
  #1  
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BA refuses boarding back to UK despite OK from Immigration Authorities

Long story Long. EU Citizen with permanent residence In the UK for the last 12 years. Have both EU passport and EU ID. EU Passport currently with an embassy in London to get a visa.

Flew from Heathrow on Friday with British wife to Budapest for a weekend with return date Sunday. Took EU ID with me because passport is with another embassy in London waiting for a visa. Didn’t realise EU ID is expired.

Boarded BA flight in Heathrow with destination Budapest no problem showing my EU ID. Upon arrival in Budapest, Immigration tells me EU ID is expired. They wanted passport, said don't have it, emailed them copy of passport and they were fine to let me in the country. Went to my embassy and asked for temp passport. They said I need birth certificate. I don't have that because its back in London so I don't get temp passport from my embassy. Go to airport on Sunday, spend few hrs. Immigration agents decide they are fine letting me go to the UK (showed copy of UK residence document, copy of my passport) if BA lets me in. The guy at the boarding gate said no so immigration asks me go back at departure lounge and sort out with BA.

I called BA line, nice gentleman on the phone said that absolutely BA should allow me back on my flight giving my circumstances and particularly giving the fact BA allowed me to leave UK on expired EU ID in the first place. He speaks to lady BA manager in Budapest who tells him immigration told BA they don’t want to let me go which is why BA agent refused boarding me. I told him that’s a complete lie and 2 senior Hungarian immigration officers (have their name and everything) told me to my face “We have looked at your documents, you are EU citizen going to another EU country where you are resident, we can’t stop free movement despite expired ID, we have no problem letting you go if BA agrees”.

He said I should contact BA manager on the ground. I called her. She was off duty. She told me same story she told BA agent I was on the phone with. I said I can give you the names of the immigration agents and everything. She said if they provide her with a document that they are fine with me leaving, then I’m ok to go from her perspective. I said OK. Meanwhile, a ground handling agent (working for BA) comes to me and deals with me for the rest of the day.

He calls the Hungarian immigration office and 2 officers come (different than the ones that gave me the OK to depart earlier). After 50 minutes of back and forth, they tell me and the BA agent handler same thing. They are fine with giving me departure approval for the UK and once BA approves me, I should go to passport check as everybody there has been told to allow me to pass.

BA handler agent then disappears and comes back 30 min later saying bad news, “UK border is refusing to give us a reference code for you coming to LHR”. I smell total BS after I ask him what phone number he contacted. He tells me he can’t give the number because only BA can have it. Really? I then said “so if once I land in LHR and I talk to a border agent will they be able to confirm that this process exists…i.e. is it normal for BA agents abroad to call you for a “border reference number”?” He said no not really…because he might not have spoken to the border agents but with immigration?????? IF HE CALLED, which I doubt, he probably called some customer service agent that told him no I cant come in, but not border agents who I’m 100% sure they would let me in.

Additionally, my wife landed tonight at Heathrow, spoke in detail with the border agents who confirmed to her they give NO such “reference numbers” that BA agent handler in Budapest is mentioning. So who did this guy talk to? Nobody I assume. Furthermore, the BA manager told me if she got approval from Hungarian immigration she would let me in. But this guy, despite getting it, didn’t.

There is ZERO chance the UK immigration authorities won’t allow me in. Hence, no risk to BA of a fine. Even if there would be one I offered to pay a pre authorisation sum of £3000 which had been refused by BA agent handler, despite BA T&C mentioning very clearly that passengers are liable for removal costs not BA. So, if I’m willing to take the risk of paying for it myself, what’s the problem? In this case there is ZERO liability to BA because I’m paying myself the fine.

Why do I think BA should let me go back home despite having an expired ID? Because UK authorities will let me in 100% due to:

1. I have an EU ID. Yes I know its expired but end of the day it’s real not a fake one. Very easy for UK authorities to check this.
2. I have a UK residence card (a photocopy with me) and the original at my London home. My wife can very well bring this to the airport upon my arrival. Additionally, they can very well see me in their database.
3. I have a valid EU Passport that is with an embassy in London and a photo of it on my phone. Border agents can call the embassy and confirm the passport is in their possession. I also have emails between me and the embassy.
4. I’ve been travelling in and out of the UK multiple times and am sure they can see pictures of me, etc from the e-gate
5. I am married with a British wife. My wife can come to the airport and identify me.
6. I can produce multiple proof of address. My wife can bring them to the airport and I also have photocopies on my phone.
7. They can very well call my embassy and check my EU status with them
8. I have offered to pay BA any fees that might result from a fine by the UK immigration authorities


Lets face it people, there are multiple ways UK border agents can verify that I am indeed a resident in UK.

To recap. I am totally stranded in Budapest. My embassy cant get me a temporary passport because I have no birth certificate. Hungarian authorities say they allow me to travel. British Airways agent on the phone says “absolutely we should allow you to travel back as this is an exceptional circumstance and BA left you leave in the first place”. I have offered to pay any charges that would arise to BA IF UK immigration refuses to let me in (impossible in my view). Still, BA handling agent refuses to let me board giving me what I believe to be a lie as an excuse.

This has been an absolute NIGHTMARE. Thankfully my wife knows very well reporters at both Sky News and BBC who apparently were looking last week to run a live news story regarding airlines poor standard of service (I guess its relevant for them given Brexit). We couldn’t think of a more suitable example than mine. So, if I’m still stranded here because of BA this week, sit tight and enjoy my upcoming live TV appearance on Sky News or BBC at some point this week live from Budapest. Will post here updates on timing once I have it all confirmed. Good thing I have good internet connection so Skype interview shouldn’t be a problem. I love BA but this time they / their handling agent in Budapest really got it totally wrong.

Last edited by fomc; Nov 25, 18 at 6:27 pm
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Old Nov 25, 18, 6:51 pm
  #2  
 
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A challenging situation.

a number of thoughts...

BA will no doubt be correct in arguing that their conditions of carriage require you to present with the appropriate documents.

the Hungarian immigration have no say over immigration in the UK, they only have control of your ability to leave their country, so they are correct in deferring the decision to the airline.

BA I believe use an airline immigration advice line rather than speaking directly to UKBF, who will follow a matrix, which ultimately doesn’t permit you access into the UK as your EEA country ID card is expired.

Your own Embassy should be able to provide you with an emergency passport to travel to your own country, is it complicated as you are asking for an emergency passport to travel to a third country.

Accusations of lies will not help your case when it is ultimately those individuals whom support may be needed.

as to possible courses of action, is your wife able to pick up your passport and send it you or are you able to go back to your embassy and seek of consollar advice?
scoonee, LTN Phobia, wrp96 and 4 others like this.

Last edited by navylad; Nov 25, 18 at 6:57 pm
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Old Nov 25, 18, 6:53 pm
  #3  
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If you do not have valid travel documents, then BA is perfectly correct in denying travel

If the British Embassy is ok for you to travel to UK, then it should be able to provide an authority that can be given to the airline. If this is what is being refused due to inadequate documentation, perhaps see whether it will accept a scanned copy of birth certificate asnd get someone to email it over

In the end , it is not the airline's fault that you travelled with expired documents

If a passenger turns up without valid documents, an airline can contact immigration authorities and ask for approval for the passenger to travel - if it is declined, then you are out of luck

If you were trying to get to your country of citizenship and had enough identification, I expect that you would have a good chance of getting approval. In this case, you are trying to get a 3rd country to approve the travel

Last edited by Dave Noble; Nov 25, 18 at 7:01 pm
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:13 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by navylad View Post
A challenging situation.

a number of thoughts...

BA will no doubt be correct in arguing that their conditions of carriage require you to present with the appropriate documents.

the Hungarian immigration have no say over immigration in the UK, they only have control of your ability to leave their country, so they are correct in deferring the decision to the airline.

BA I believe use an airline immigration advice line rather than speaking directly to UKBF, who will follow a matrix, which ultimately doesn’t permit you access into the UK as your EEA country ID card is expired.

Your own Embassy should be able to provide you with an emergency passport to travel to your own country, is it complicated as you are asking for an emergency passport to travel to a third country.

Accusations of lies will not help your case when it is ultimately those individuals whom support may be needed.

as to possible courses of action, is your wife able to pick up your passport and send it you or are you able to go back to your embassy and seek of consollar advice?
cant argue with BA's conditions of carriage. They have the right to deny boarding. HOWEVER, the big mess-up from BA's side is allowing me to travel in the first place. I admit I have a very high responsibility here. But come on, BA agent at the gate that checked my ID should have REFUSED to board me. I would have just stayed in the UK, got my passport back then travelled to Budapest. Look, lets face it, this is an exceptional situation, and in exceptional situations where people get stranded, if everyone is on board why cant BA be on board? And I don't even know if its BA's fault here or their ground handling agent...but since I talked to the BA manager, probably BA.
I know of 3 cases where people were stranded abroad couldn't travel because of BA then BA in the end allowed them to travel back to the UK. Its at their discretion at the end of the day and I believe in my case BA should show some understanding. What are they afraid of? The guy told me "if we let you in, and UK refused to let you in, then we get fined". I explained very clearly that I am more than willing to pay this fine IN ADVANCE in case they refuse. Given my circumstances listed, do you really believe UK immigration will tell me go back??? Come on lets be serious.

Regarding my passport, that's for sure an option but this embassy is useless...tried calling them and no answer. They are very slow.....With regard to my embassy. I asked for a temporary passport to go back to UK. They said cant give it to me without birth certificate and few other things....my wife just told me she cant find my birth certificate....I'm in a really strange situation here where BA Budapest is the only bottleneck. I have a wedding to go to and various work related meetings that now I cannot attend.

As for the agent, look the guy was very vague, when I asked him detailed questions, he was dodging the answer. That's why I thought he's lying. He didn't want to show me the phone number. Lets face it, I have pretty much 99.99% chances of getting in. And if im not, happy to pay whatever fine they have. I just don't understand given all of this why they don't let me go.
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:13 pm
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While BA perhaps could be more accommodating they are well within their rights to deny travel.
This must be a very frustrating time for you, however I think venting on the internet and threatening to go to the press for what is primarily your mistake isn't going to win you many favors, especially from BA.
I would be concentrating my time on getting the correct documents to travel e.g. working with your embassy to arrange emergency travel documentation
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:15 pm
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Not wishing to add insult to injury to OP, but a similar situation happened to a close friend, hardly ever driving his car, having had his driving license renewed, but due to the curse of "Frequent Flying", missed to collect the new license in time. Caught in a police control he tried a similar explanation, but as the officer explained - driving without a valid license incurs a penalty.

So, the advice is - if passport is engaged in a Visa process, having travel plans requiring ID, be sure it's valid
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:19 pm
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Originally Posted by fomc View Post
cant argue with BA's conditions of carriage. They have the right to deny boarding. HOWEVER, the big mess-up from BA's side is allowing me to travel in the first place. I admit I have a very high responsibility here. But come on, BA agent at the gate that checked my ID should have REFUSED to board me. I would have just stayed in the UK, got my passport back then travelled to Budapest. Look, lets face it, this is an exceptional situation, and in exceptional situations where people get stranded, if everyone is on board why cant BA be on board? And I don't even know if its BA's fault here or their ground handling agent...but since I talked to the BA manager, probably BA.
I know of 3 cases where people were stranded abroad couldn't travel because of BA then BA in the end allowed them to travel back to the UK. Its at their discretion at the end of the day and I believe in my case BA should show some understanding. What are they afraid of? The guy told me "if we let you in, and UK refused to let you in, then we get fined". I explained very clearly that I am more than willing to pay this fine IN ADVANCE in case they refuse. Given my circumstances listed, do you really believe UK immigration will tell me go back??? Come on lets be serious.
That one person made a mistake and missed that the documentation was expired , is no reason at all for another agent to spot the issue and ignore it

Were those 3 cases with passengers with British passports perhaps?

Originally Posted by fomc
Regarding my passport, that's for sure an option but this embassy is useless...tried calling them and no answer. They are very slow.....With regard to my embassy. I asked for a temporary passport to go back to UK. They said cant give it to me without birth certificate and few other things....my wife just told me she cant find my birth certificate....I'm in a really strange situation here where BA Budapest is the only bottleneck. I have a wedding to go to and various work related meetings that now I cannot attend.

As for the agent, look the guy was very vague, when I asked him detailed questions, he was dodging the answer. That's why I thought he's lying. He didn't want to show me the phone number. Lets face it, I have pretty much 99.99% chances of getting in. And if im not, happy to pay whatever fine they have. I just don't understand given all of this why they don't let me go.
BA is not a bottleneck - it is simply requiring that you have documentation that permits travel

Sounds like the thing to do is to get passport back from where it is sitting and couriered across
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:21 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
In the end , it is not the airline's fault that you travelled with expired documents
Not to dismiss any fault with the OP, but ...
It isn't BA's fault if BA let him leave the UK with invalid ID? Non sequitur.
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
That one person made a mistake and missed that the documentation was expired , is no reason at all for another agent to spot the issue and ignore it

Were those 3 cases with passengers with British passports perhaps?



BA is not a bottleneck - it is simply requiring that you have documentation that permits travel

Sounds like the thing to do is to get passport back from where it is sitting and couriered across

1 yes British passports. The other 2 not sure. Yes couriered passport is feasible but have no idea on timing. Could be a week could be a month. I cant just stay here indefinitely. Just for my own information. Can you explain to me why would BA refuse to board me? Like what's the inherent reason. Yes I know valid doc, etc...But what are they worried of? Particularly IF UK immigration lets me in? The only explanation is the one related to the fine. That they would get fined if they allow boarding and UK immigration rejects me right?
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:27 pm
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Originally Posted by TBD View Post
Not to dismiss any fault with the OP, but ...
It isn't BA's fault if BA let him leave the UK with invalid ID? Non sequitur.
The airline is liable should the person be denied entry to the country - it is still not BA's fault that he set off on the trip without valid documents
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:29 pm
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Originally Posted by fomc View Post
1 yes British passports. The other 2 not sure. Yes couriered passport is feasible but have no idea on timing. Could be a week could be a month. I cant just stay here indefinitely. Just for my own information. Can you explain to me why would BA refuse to board me? Like what's the inherent reason. Yes I know valid doc, etc...But what are they worried of? Particularly IF UK immigration lets me in? The only explanation is the one related to the fine. That they would get fined if they allow boarding and UK immigration rejects me right?
If there really is no issue entering, perhaps go to the British Embassy, make your case there and see if you can get an approval to travel to UK - you will then have valid documentation

The BA staff are simply doing what they are supposed to

You get approporiate approvals and the airline will let you on; if you cannot get the approvals, then why would you expect them to

Length of time for a courier should be able to be next day or day after
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
That one person made a mistake and missed that the documentation was expired , is no reason at all for another agent to spot the issue and ignore it
Who said anything about ignoring it? It most definitely is a reason though - while ultimately the OP's fault, they are in this mess because BA made a mistake. If they did their job properly then he would not be in trouble. A basic principle of rectifying a customer service error is to put the customer back in the position they would be had the error not taken place. That means take them back to the UK - a resolution that also happens to be easy and cheap.

That being said, I also agree with the overarching (and conflicting!) point that BA has every right to turn down people without valid travel documents.

If the OP is so sure it's only BA causing issues, why don't you fly back with a different airline?

Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
The airline is liable should the person be denied entry to the country - it is still not BA's fault that he set off on the trip without valid documents
It irrefutably is BA's fault. The fact that it's also the OP's fault is irrelevant to that point. If BA fulfilled their obligations then he would not be in this mess - period.
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:40 pm
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Originally Posted by fomc View Post
But what are they worried of?
I don't think it's BA that's worried, it's probably the employees involved. Clearly this is an exceptional circumstance where logically you should be allowed to travel.
However as BA is a large company with numerous policies and procedures and most likely dire consequences if not followed, as a BA employee would you be willing to be the one where the buck stops if it goes pear shaped? Given BAs current employee relations I would doubt it very much that anybody would want to take responsibility so are just towing the company line. I wouldn't classify this as unique BA employee behavior as I've seen it in numerious other companies. You sometimes need to just take a step back and understand that there are other factors at play rather than what just involves yourself.

Take a deep breathe, try to calm down and just realise that $h!t happens....
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:51 pm
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Originally Posted by callum9999 View Post
Who said anything about ignoring it? It most definitely is a reason though - while ultimately the OP's fault, they are in this mess because BA made a mistake. If they did their job properly then he would not be in trouble. A basic principle of rectifying a customer service error is to put the customer back in the position they would be had the error not taken place. That means take them back to the UK - a resolution that also happens to be easy and cheap.

That being said, I also agree with the overarching (and conflicting!) point that BA has every right to turn down people without valid travel documents.

If the OP is so sure it's only BA causing issues, why don't you fly back with a different airline?



It irrefutably is BA's fault. The fact that it's also the OP's fault is irrelevant to that point. If BA fulfilled their obligations then he would not be in this mess - period.
that's exactly my point. I have a lot of responsibility here for not checking it myself. BUT BA allowed me board in the first place. Again I hate myself for not checking more than anything believe me. But in situations like me where people are stranded with little or not options, BA should show its HUMANE side and allow me to travel. The point that frustrates me the most is that even the BA guy at the airport agreed with me that chances of being refused entry, given all I said, are minimal. So I know I will be let in, they are the ones to give the OK. And im pretty sure if someone from the head office would call these people in Budapest all would be well, but I only get to customer service people who cant do anything and don't have authority to deal with my issue. Maybe someone from BA sees this, contacts me and lets get me back home to my wife.
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Old Nov 25, 18, 7:54 pm
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Originally Posted by callum9999 View Post

If the OP is so sure it's only BA causing issues, why don't you fly back with a different airline?
this is a very valid point
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