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Family loses $7K Europe trip due to passport issues

A Canadian family was 'devastated' to miss a trip to Europe and lose more than $7,000 last month because of a passport problem.

Gatineau, Que. resident Michael Laroche takes a vacation every year with his wife and daughter and this year to celebrate his 60th birthday and his daughter's high school graduation they booked a trip to Lisbon, Portugal.

They thought they had valid passports but when they went to get on the plane in early August they were told there was a problem.

Laroche's passport and his wife's had expiry dates of Oct. 10, 2023 but they were told to travel to Portugal their passports needed to be valid for a full three months.

"I always thought a passport expires on the date that the passport indicated it expires," said Laroche who added, “Air Transat indicated to us there was no way we could get on the flight and that unfortunately our passports weren't valid."

A family from Quebec missed out on a trip to Europe because of a passport problem (Supplied).The three tickets cost the family $7,078 and they were not able to get a refund or credit.

Laroche booked the tickets through Air Transat’s website and said he was surprised the issue wasn't caught by the airline.

"You obviously enter the passport dates when you book online, so I’m a little confused as to why that wasn't flagged when we originally booked," said Laroche.

“When we were told that we couldn't board the flight it was absolutely devastating. My daughter was absolutely devastated."

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Air Transat said, “While we understand the disappointment Mr. Laroche and his family may feel, our decision to deny boarding was in full accordance with the regulations of the European Union and its international travel requirements.”

“Canadians travelling in a European Union country must hold a passport valid for at least three months beyond the date of expected return from that country. This entry requirement is enforced by the EU authorities, not Air Transat.”

“As stated on our booking confirmation, it is the passenger's sole responsibility to verify and comply with all entry and exit requirements in accordance with their travel itinerary. This includes ensuring that their travel documents, such as passports and visas, meet the requirements of the destination country.”

Laroche is in Quebec and while the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) is the travel regulator which oversees travel retailers and wholesalers in Ontario, it recommends booking through travel agents who can offer guidance and advice when booking trips.

Dorian Werda, Chief Operating Officer of TICO said, “Every country has different entry requirements and consumers also need to do their homework to make sure their documents are in order.”

The Laroche family was upset to miss a family vacation because their passports were set to expire soon (Supplied).Werda added, “Note the expiry date as in most cases a passport should be good for at least six months after the date of return, not your date of departure."

Laroche is frustrated losing $7,078 but wanted to share his story to prevent other Canadians from having ruined trips over not having valid passports.

"I would just like to warn other people who are potentially taking vacations to check the tools available to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else," said Laroche.

It's usually a good idea to have an up to date passport and now you can apply to get them for five and ten years. If yours is currently set to expire within six months you may want to consider getting a new one. Top Stories

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