Airline giant Ryanair has apologised to a restaurant owner from the Scottish Borders after he missed a flight to Edinburgh after staff told him Scotland wasn’t a country.
Earlier this month, Piotr Dziedzic and his family were preparing to return to Edinburgh from Lisbon.
The family, who have Polish passports, have residency status in Scotland and have lived in the country since 2005.
The issues began on January 10 when Mr Dziedzic’s 13-year-old daughter Amelia was forced to take a Covid test in the airport to get on the flight, which contravened the rules at the time.
The family were told that as they were Polish, the UK rules which would have meant a Covid test was not needed did not apply.
The family were held back again after staff interrogated Mr Dziedzic’s older daughter, 23-year-old Karolina, asking her who the Queen of the UK was and told her that Scotland was not a country.
Mr Dziedzic told Borders paper The Southern Reporter: “Amelia was in fact born in Scotland therefore we do have to follow Scottish guidelines.
“Which other country’s rules could we possibly follow when entering our home in Scotland?
“My older daughter tried to present the above information which clearly states children under 18 in Scotland do not have to do a test before arrival but only a day two test, which we had proof of booking.
“After receiving this information, [the staff member] came back with printed rules for England (which are, of course, different to Scotland) and tried to argue that Scotland is not a country and we should follow English rules.
“Even a Google search to prove that Scotland is in fact a country was dismissed by them; it is incomprehensible we had to even argue this. Suddenly the initial problem that we are Polish wasn’t the cause of concern, but rather that we were following Scottish guidelines as opposed to English. Pointless excuse after excuse, as if looking to create a problem out of nothing.”
Amelia had her test, at the family’s expense, but by then it was too late to catch the flight.
“We had to pay £550.96 to get the next flight to Birmingham, and then travel 560 miles (an extra large expense) to get to Edinburgh.”
He also wrote to Ryanair directly, accusing the airline of “complete racism and lack of professional behaviour”.
Ryanair told the paper: “Ryanair does not tolerate any form of racial prejudice; all of our customers are treated equally.
“Having addressed this matter with our Lisbon Airport handling agents, it has been verified that this passenger was incorrectly refused boarding due to the handling agents’ misinterpretation of the travel requirements, believing that a pre-departure Covid-19 test was required for Mr. Dziedzic’s daughter to board this flight.
“We sincerely apologise to these passengers, and our Lisbon Airport handling agents have agreed in this case to compensate Mr Dziedzic.”
However, it is reported that Mr Dziedzic was unaware of the apology when the paper contacted him.
He said: “I emailed them yesterday and was told I would have to wait another 10 days.
“It will be interesting to see what sort of compensation we receive.”
On Wednesday, the Ryanair spokesperson said: “A member of our Customer Service Department has been in contact with Mr Dziedzic to assist him with his compensation claim.”