A widow on a family holiday got through two British passport checkpoints and flew all the way to Spain – accidentally using her late husband Paul’s passport.
Pauline Briggs from Kiveton Park, Rotherham, went through two checks at East Midlands Airport before jetting off to Fuerteventura.
Pauline, aged 64, was horrified when she arrived with her granddaughter, grandson-in-law and their two children, and the officer at passport control there looked at all five passports and asked: “Where is Mr Briggs?”
The grandmother-of-10 said: “It really threw me – I said, ‘I’m Pauline Briggs’, but he said, ‘But where is Mr Briggs?’ and I said, ‘Well... he’s dead’.
“He then showed us the passport and the mistake was realised.”
Pauline’s granddaughter, shop assistant Hannah Sampson, 21, was panic-stricken and Pauline was all set to be sent back to her home in Kiveton Park, Rotherham.
Luckily, security on the Canary island allowed Pauline and her family through – leaving Pauline to sort out a temporary passport for the return journey.
In total, Pauline had gone through two passport checks in England – one at check-in and a second as she boarded the plane.
She said: “I know it was my mistake to pick up the wrong passport, but I am appalled at the lack of security.
“I would have expected my error would mean I would have to go home and get another flight, but because it was missed I got right through to Fuerteventura. I am an innocent holidaymaker – but what if I had sinister motives? It’s not very reassuring.”
The retired childcare social worker had planned the holiday around the second anniversary of her husband’s death. “He died in June 2012, aged 56, of a rare blood cancer, multiple myeloma, and I still find it really hard,” said Pauline. “My granddaughter was going away with her family and invited me along to get away from it all.
“Paul was just two weeks away from a bone marrow donor when he caught an infection and died, after four years battling the illness. He could probably still be alive today. On the morning of us leaving for our 7.50am flight, I had got mine and Paul’s passports out and I was talking to Paul in his picture, telling him I was going.
“I can’t believe I ended up taking his with me. I was mortified when I realised I’d picked up the wrong one.”
At the resort of Caleta de Fuste, Pauline was faced with the task of getting hold of a new passport. In the end Pauline’s hotel, Hotel Barcello Castillo Beach Resort, stepped in and helped her out. She had to pay 120 Euros and received her temporary passport four days later.
A spokeswoman for East Midlands Airport said passport checks are carried out by company Swissport.
Claire Pearson said: “When staff at the airport do their checks they only need to check boarding passes.
“The most important thing is that the error is picked up as the traveller arrives at their country of destination – as it was.”