Steve Vincent, a professor of Work and Organisation at Newcastle University has been stranded in Prague after his friend and fellow traveller Allan Poole flew back early using Vincent’s passport.
Allan, who travelled with Steve for a weekend trip to explore the Czech capital had to leave early and travelled from Prague back to Newcastle via Amsterdam on Steve’s passport without being caught out by border control.
According to border control agents it is quite common for people to travel using their friends or families’ passports without anyone noticing. This is a little alarming to say the least, especially coming from the very people whose job it is to prevent this exact situation from happening.
The passport which Allan travelled with was scanned four times on his return journey and yet was not flagged once. He even had to ask for assistance when there was a problem at an electronic scanning station, and still the mistake was not spotted.
Steve was stuck in Prague for several days waiting for the British embassy to offer support and provide an emergency travel document. After realising that his friend had taken his passport, Steve tweeted KLM airlines saying, ‘I’m trapped in Prague, what are you going to do about it?’
Steve blamed the airline for failing to spot the mistake and said that they should never have let Allan fly. The two swapped passports by mistake when they had put them on a table whilst filling out documents to check into their accommodation. KLM should not have let Poole board the return flight as his passport did not match his boarding pass.
Steve has since returned to the UK, tweeting on 20th February ‘made it back to Blighty’. The incident raises issues over airline safety as it was clearly very easy for someone to travel on a passport that was not their own. In this case it was purely an innocent mistake, but those who may have sinister motivations could just as easily get through. In a time of anxiety surrounding global terrorist threats, new like this does not raise confidence that the highest care is being taken to maintain safety on airlines. Evidently, KLM and perhaps other airlines need to seriously review how they maintain safety on their airlines. Mistakes like these should be spotted at the point of check-in, they should not go unnoticed for the travellers’ entire journey.
Last modified: 28th February 2019