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A Manchester Dad found himself locked up in a Croatian prison cell for five days by border guards after accidentally boarding a flight using his stepdaughter’s passport.
David Chadwick, 57, thought he was heading on a normal, run-of-the-mill holiday when he hopped on a Ryanair flight from Manchester to Zagreb for a romantic five-day getaway with wife Alison, 47.
But his relaxing break soon turned into a nightmare upon arrival as he was stopped by guards at Zagreb airport and soon realised he’d picked up his 21-year-old stepdaughter's passport by mistake and had no other official forms of ID on him.
With no way to identify himself and no way to get through immigration, David was subsequently whisked away to a holding cell in the airport where he spent the remainder of his holiday, before being summarily escorted back home.
Upon arriving back in the UK, staff at Manchester airport subsequently confirmed his identification based on photos of his passport and driving licence on his phone and let him go home.
Senior international clinical manager David, who lives in Standish with wife Alison and stepdaughter Katherine, both nurses, said: "I was simply gutted, and embarrassed at the same time.
"I pride myself in never having the wrong things in hand luggage and always having the correct documentation, so I couldn't believe it had happened. I think our faces said it all. I accept it's half my fault for picking up the wrong passport, but you'd think that post 9/11, I wouldn't have been able to board a plane with a female name and photo of my daughter on!
"When I finally got back to the UK, the border force at Manchester Airport couldn't believe I got to Croatia with the wrong passport. The most perplexed was the Zagreb UK consulate as to how I'd managed to get to Croatia in the first place.
"This was a much needed break for both of us – my wife is an NHS nurse who worked all the way through the pandemic whilst I worked in clinical research – but I spent the whole time in a cell. It was gutting."
While David was locked up, Alison was forced to endure the entire holiday on her own.
"I'm extremely disappointed to not have seen what looked to be a beautiful country,” David said.
"Alison and I had to use WhatsApp voice notes and pictures to communicate – we couldn't physically speak to each other as the one time we did, both of us got too upset to continue the conversation.
"[My stepdaughter] was so worried when we told her – her mum in a new country and her stepdad in a cell. It's not the kind of pressure you'd ever want to put on a 21-year-old.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Ryanair said: "This passenger was detained by Croatian authorities on arrival to Zagreb, following his flight from Manchester (24 Apr) for failing to travel with his own passport. It is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure they have a correct and valid passport for travel.
"Our airport handling agents incorrectly allowed this passenger to board and we have liaised with our handling agents in Manchester to ensure this error does not recur."
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