FIVE children from two south Belfast families were left in tears at Belfast City Airport after the airline they were travelling in, Ryanair, turned them away from checking-in for a weekend away because the company does not accept the Northern Ireland Electoral Identity Card as valid identification for a domestic flight.
And South Belfast MP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, described the Irish airline’s refusal to accept the government-issued cards as proof of identity as “over-the-top”.
The Neely and Hall families from Finaghy had to fork out £503 to pay for the ferry instead to ensure they had a holiday and could use the accommodation they had paid for after their plans to fly with Ryanair to Liverpool for two days were left in tatters.
Debbie Neely and her three girls, and Margaret Hall and her two girls — all aged between nine to 14 years old — were turned away from the Ryanair check-in desk because of the airline’s policy.
Other airlines operating from Northern Ireland, including Easyjet, accept the card as valid ID for travel on domestic flights.
Debbie’s husband Phillip said it would have been his kids’ first time on a plane, but instead he received a phone call from Debbie to say they had been refused onto the flight and he arrived at the airport to find the children in tears.
“Watching five wee girls standing around screaming was not a pretty sight,” he said.
South Belfast MP, Dr Alasdair McDonnell, slammed the airline over its refusal to accept the card. “Ryanair’s refusal to accept Electoral ID cards as proof of identity is over the top. The application process for government-issued Electoral ID cards is rigorous,” he said.
“If all the other airlines accept Electoral ID cards on domestic flights there is no reason for Ryanair to continue with this policy of refusal.”
Stephen McNamara, head of communications at Ryanair, said: “Ryanair passengers must be in possession of a valid passport or approved national identity card in order to travel with Ryanair.
“Passengers agree to this policy, which is contained within our terms and conditions, during the booking process and are reminded at the confirmation page, within their confirmation email and during our online check-in process. Electoral cards are not a valid form of identification.”