THE BRITISH expat told by Ryanair that he fulfilled “legitimate requirements” to enter Spain but was put on a plane back to the UK has spoken out.
Stuart Miller revealed exclusively to The Olive Press that the whole experience was a “living nightmare”.
The 47-year-old explained that he had followed all guidelines for both leaving the UK and entering Spain, and yet still he was among those sent back by border authorities at Alicante airport.
With his negative Covid-test result, passport and other necessary documentation that proved legitimate reasons for returning to his Spanish home, Ryanair staff at Manchester Airport had assured him and scores of other flyers that everything was in order.
The Olive Press attempted to reach Ryanair for comment but the airline has not responded.
Miller also checked with his flight provider that he had sufficient reason to enter Spain, much like the other passengers that travelled with their confirmation that residencia applications had been approved and ready for collection.
Fellow Ryanair customers included Spanish residents, family members travelling to see sick relatives and property-buyers completing their house purchases.
All were confident they had a legitimate reason to enter Spain at the time.
However, upon landing at Alicante-Elche airport, border officials “took the law into their own hands”, according to Miller.
A sign announcing, “No TIE, no entry” welcomed the travellers to Spain.
Border agents were flanked by armed police, putting “the terror of God” into those waiting to be questioned.
“It appeared that only those who were on a list of legal residents, possibly checked in advance against the plane’s manifest, were allowed in.”
“The rest of us were sent back without even being able to explain our legitimate reasons,” Miller told the Olive Press.
He insisted: “At no point was my paperwork checked, it all boiled down to me being on one list or another.”
He continued, “The authorities seemed to have made up their own mind regarding who they were going to let into Spain, despite the entire plane having assurance from Ryanair that all was well.”
The off-shore worker then described how he and dozens of others were escorted back on to the very plane from which they’d just alighted, only to be welcomed by scores of passengers whose journey had subsequently been delayed by the mass deportation.
“Conversations started about the reason for our late boarding, and then things got a little toxic – so I just kept my head down,” admitted Miller.
The journey has left the life-long Manchester United fan with severe heartburn, which only happens after periods of severe stress.
He continued, “The whole experience was a living nightmare, and to rub salt in the wound, we can’t collect our luggage from the airport until this Friday (April 2).”
Since Monday’s flight, rules have been amended again regarding access to Spain with Spain lifting the travel ban on those arriving from the UK from 6pm on March 30 for all but Spanish citizens and those who could prove residency in Spain.
However, as UK nationals are now considered 3rd country nationals since Brexit they are not entitled to travel freely to Spain under current EU and Schengen-wide Covid rules and are only allowed to enter if they fall under general exemptions.
These include being married to a Spanish national, having residency in the EU or Andorra and are travelling to their place of residence, long-term Spanish visa holders, health care professionals or transport workers travelling for work, students enrolled in courses in Spain or diplomats, military or members of international organisations that have work in Spain.
But according to the rules set out by Spain’s foreign ministry exceptions are also made for those “who are travelling for essential and justified family matters, force majeure cases necessary situations or humanitarian reasons”.
A spokesperson from the British Embassy in Madrid confirmed to the Olive Press that anyone who felt they were rejected unfairly and had the required documentation should lodge a complaint and inform the embassy so that their case can be taken up with Spanish authorities.
“We are aware that a number of UK Nationals were turned back from Alicante airport at the weekend and we have been in touch with the authorities,” the spokesperson said.
“If you are a UK National who has been turned away and you hold sufficient documentary evidence to prove you have legal residency in Spain – as per our Travel Advice – we stand ready to take this up with the Spanish authorities.”
You can get in touch with the Embassy HERE.
The British Embassy also confirmed that entry to Spain will now only be granted to those passengers who can demonstrate that their journey is essential, as well as to those who are already legally resident in Spain.
“It is crucial that when making plans to travel from the UK to Spain, a UK National must make sure that they meet both the requirements to leave the UK and those to enter Spain, bearing in mind that they are not the same,” said a statement from the Embassy in Madrid.
“Spanish rules set out that entry to Spain will currently only be granted to those passengers who can demonstrate that their journey falls under one of the allowed exemptions, as well as to those who are already legally resident in Spain.”
However, the ominous footnote for all Brits travelling legitimately is, “Ultimately, the decision on whether to grant entry into Spain is made by Spanish border officials.”