A British grandmother was been detained in Spanish immigration for five days without her phone, a change of clothes, or any other belongings after her passport accidentally slid out of her hand luggage on a plane. On Saturday, May 20, Tracy Mckellar, a 53-year-old live-in carer from the Wirral, learned of the error while making one of her routine trips to a holiday home in Spain.
Tracy immediately went to customer support to let them know where she thought her passport might be in an effort to address the problem.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get help; instead, she had to sit through a question-and-answer session with border patrol agents before being escorted to a cramped, windowless room to wait for many days.
According to MailOnline, border control officials in Madrid insist Tracy could not be released until she boarded the following flight back to Liverpool.
However, Tracy was in a tight spot because the subsequent flight wasn’t due for another five days.
Her phone and luggage were taken as part of the procedure, depriving her of necessities and even a change of clothing until her eventual return the following Wednesday.
Tracy has cautioned other travellers that the ordeal she went through could ‘happen to anyone’, saying: “When I got to border control, I realised that my passport – which I’d had to board the plane – must have fallen out of my hand luggage.
“I ran to customer services to ask them to search the plane, but they were in no hurry to look. I was worried that the plane would take off with my passport, but they didn’t seem to care.”
Tracy claims that she was brought by the police to an immigration room where she gave a statement about the incident after spending five hours trying to find her passport.
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The officials took her hand luggage while she was there, giving her only a brief window of time to tell her daughter about the situation before her phone was also seized.
According to Ryanair, their workers searched the plane for her passport, but they were unable to find it.
Tracy said: “The border control said that as I am no longer a citizen of the EU, they could only help me so much.”
Although officials were able to provide her with the necessary documentation to travel back to the UK, there was a condition attached, Tract had to fly back using the same carrier and return to the same airport.
Unfortunately, the next available flight was scheduled for Wednesday, resulting in a significant wait for her departure.
Despite her pleas to be allowed to fly to any airport, her request was denied. She was assigned a social worker who contacted the British consulate for assistance.
However, she received the disheartening response that they were unable to intervene due to it being the weekend. This news left her in a state of shock and disbelief
Along with thirty other people, Tracy was led into a room without windows. She was compelled to stay, so she tried to pass the time by trying to teach some of her fellow prisoners English in the little room.
Tracy was forced to wash her clothes every night and hang them out to dry for the next day because she had packed minimally for her trip to her home in La Coronada, located in the western province of Extremadura, Spain.
After being escorted by border control, Tracy was taken to a windowless room, approximately the size of two classrooms, where approximately 30 individuals, both men and women, were already present. Tracy remained confined in that room for five days until the next scheduled flight.
Initially, the experience was incredibly distressing, but Tracy said she recognized that there was little she could do
She recalled there were many tears shed, and at one point, a man became so furious that three police officers had to intervene and calm him down.
None of the other detainees spoke English, which made communication difficult, Tracy added.
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In her account, Tracy explained that although there were shower and toilet facilities available, and meals were provided, she remained confined without the ability to leave for a duration of five days.
Adding to the challenging situation, the television in the room was not functional, and she only had one book to read. The social worker provided her with another book, which happened to be about a woman in jail, further reflecting the circumstances she found herself in.
Unable to change her clothes, Tracy had to make do by washing whatever garments she could and hanging them at the end of her bunk bed.
Tracy was exhausted when she was finally escorted into the plane and sent home on Wednesday. When she got back, she sat down on her daughter’s lawn and unintentionally dozed off for two hours.
On Wednesday, when the time came for her release, she was escorted to the flight by the police, and the pilot had to provide consent for her return.
Reflecting on her ordeal, Tracy described it as the most dreadful experience, emphasizing the importance of everyone double-checking that they have their passport in their possession before disembarking the plane.
A spokesman for Ryanair said: “The crew on this flight from Liverpool to Madrid searched the aircraft for this passenger’s lost passport, but it was not there. Any passenger travelling to Spain from a country outside the Schengen area must go through Passport Control, which is managed by the local authorities.
“While we regret this passenger’s circumstance, it is beyond our control and is now a matter for the local Spanish authorities.”
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