A dad says he had to pay £3,000 and drive 1,000 miles across Europe to join his family on holiday, after he fell victim to a little-known passport rule.
Peter Holt, 50, was turned away at the boarding gate for his flight to Croatia after being told his passport was out of date - despite it not expiring until next year.
The financial planning consultant watched as wife Claire, 47, and sons Rocky, eight, and six-year-old-twins, Axel and Hunter boarded the easyJet flight without him.
Instead he drove 1,102 miles in his Mini Cooper from his home in Surrey through France, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, before finally making it to Croatia.
Prior to Brexit, UK passport holders could travel in and out of the EU as long as they held a valid passport... even if it expired the day after their return.
But since 2021, UK passport holders travelling to any EU country will be denied entry 10 years after their passport was first issued, even if it still has extra months left.
Peters got his passport in July 2013 and was able to carry over unexpired months, giving the expiry of March 2024.
But post-Brexit rules - which he had no idea about - brought this forward to July 2023.
He's warning others because despite the rule, he was able to book the flights, check in online, drop his bags and get his boarding pass before being alerted.
Peter, from Guildford, said: "I was annoyed. We had booked the holiday in February, and it said nothing about an issue with the passport then,
“I had my boarding pass, been through bag check, passport control, yet now at the final stage I was turned away. It just didn’t - and still doesn’t - make sense.”
Peter explained his wife and Children were “in tears” as he was turned away and ushered out of the airport, on August 6.
He said there were "two others" ushered out with him who were turned away for the "same issue" he had with his passport. Undeterred, at 11am, just three hours after the flight he missed took off, he was on the road.
“I had looked in the Uber drive for passport assistant appointments, but the website was saying clearly that there were not any due to the strike action," he said. “That was when I came up with the idea to drive.
“I bought my ticket to pass through the Channel Tunnel and set off on my journey. The crazy thing is both the English and French border control teams at the crossing accepted my passport adding further mystery to the tale.”
Peter drove around 500 miles on the first day of his journey stopping in Strasbourg, France at 10pm at a Hilton hotel. He turned on Find My iPhone tracking services so his family could follow him on his continental journey.
He then drove the remaining 608 miles through Germany, Austria, and Slovenia in 12 hours to meet his family at their hotel in Pula at 8pm.
“My kids, wife, and I were just elated that I had made it there in such a short period, of time" he said. “And to only miss two days of our two-week holiday was just brilliant.”
Peter said the trip reminded him of something he would watch on Top Gear when he was younger.
He said: “As sad as the situation was, the trip was fantastic, the roads were smooth, the scenery was fantastic, and driving through mainland Europe was just beautiful.
“I saw signs for places I had seen on the TV like France's Champagne regions and the Allianz Arena in Munich, I just wish I could have stopped off."
Peter claims the journey cost him an extra £3,000, as he had to pay to get across the Channel, for hotels and for petrol.
He said he is sharing this story so other people do not have to face the same trouble he had at the airport.
“I am glad to have made it, but the situation was just so unnecessary," he said. “I just wish someone, be it easyJet or the UK Passport Office, would have let me know.”