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Passport delays shatter family's £3,000 Disney trip for daughter's fifth birthday

By Sian Traynor & Kit Roberts

A family had to cancel their dream vacation to Disneyland over passport delays which meant they were unable to travel to the resort. Stuart McLean, his wife Claire and their two daughters had been due to go to Paris for a five day trip for their five-year-old's birthday this month.

The family, from Edinburgh, had applied for passports for the two girls back in February. They were told that the waiting time would be between five and seven weeks, which would give them plenty of time before they left.

Sadly, delays at the passport office which went unexplained saw only one of the passports arrive after four weeks. The other was nowhere to be seen, EdinburghLive reports.

READ MORE: Young man who died in south Manchester horror crash named

Despite trying to get in touch with the passport office the couple were unable to get any explanation about the missing passport. To make things worse, only a few weeks before they were due to leave easyJet cancelled their return flight.

With the second passport still missing, the couple had to make a heartbreaking decision. Only two weeks before they had been due to fly out they had to cancel the trip to make sure they got their £3,000 costs back.

Stuart said: "We had been taking our daughter for her fifth birthday, and had applied for the passports at the start of February. We ordered both of our daughters' passports at the same time and then had them verified by the same person at the same time.

"For some reason they accepted one and not the other because you can't use the same person to verify twice, but we phoned up and they said it was fine and to apply again and they'd put a note on the file. It didn't work again but we got someone different to verify and then it was sorted. One came within four weeks but there was no sign of the one for our two-year old."

As their departure date of May 10 continued to get closer, the McLeans were unable to get through to the passport office for an update, and were then made aware their flights had also been disrupted. Stuart added: "My wife was in a Disney Facebook group and someone had posted saying easyJet had cancelled a lot of flights so we had a look and realised our return flight had been cancelled, but were given a full refund from them.

"At the point it was two weeks to go, we were looking at alternative return flights but Air France was a lot more expensive and we still hadn't got anything from the passport and you can only get a refund from Disneyland if you cancel less than a week before. We had spent in total around £3,000 on the trip so we cancelled the full thing to make sure we got the money back."

Hoping to have treated their girls to a well-earned break, the family are now looking into rebooking the trip for October 2022 instead, with the final passport arriving the afternoon of the day they were meant to fly on May 10.

The dad-of-two said: "We had had it booked for about seven months, the last couple of years the kids have really struggled, they have had all their classes groups and nursery things cancelled so we just wanted to give them a nice holiday. But we were planning to surprise my daughter on the day we flew for her birthday so luckily she was none the wiser."

The Home Office has been dealing with a huge backlog of passport applications in recent weeks as people prepare for summer holidays. The government expects 9.5 million British passport applications to be dealt with in 2022, with Covid restrictions on travel resulting in just four million applications in 2020 and five million in 2021 by comparison.

In the House of Commons on Thursday (May 12), Home Office minister Tom Pursglove said the target of turning applications around in 10 weeks is “not guaranteed” but insisted 700 extra staff will have been recruited “by the summer” to help. He insisted that the “vast majority” of applications continue to be processed “well within 10 weeks, with over 90 per cent of applications issued within six weeks between January and March 2022, and less than 1.4 per cent of the passports printed last week for UK applications have been in the system for longer than 10 weeks”.

Meanwhile, new research has warned that delays in passport processing could cost £1.1 billion in cancelled trips this summer. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) said it estimated a 50 per cent probability of a “successful and timely” passport renewal process for travellers based on current reports.

“Data from the VisitBritain Covid-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that more than two in five are planning an overseas trip in the coming 12 months,” it said. “Assuming that passport holders are somewhat more likely to have travel plans than the population as a whole and that a quarter of those will have made a booking leaves just under one million holiday makers at risk due to the delays.”

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Dive Deeper:
Edinburgh family's dream £3,000 Disneyland trip in tatters after passport delay
The McLean family were due to head from Edinburgh to Disneyland Paris with their two young daughters, but were left…
Girl's dream Disneyland holiday in tatters as passport delays forces family to cancel
Stuart McLean and his family, from Edinburgh, were counting down to the celebratory holiday in France to mark their five-year-old's…
Family miss special £3,000 trip to Disneyland after passport fails to arrive
Delayed passport finally arrived on the day they would have flown to Paris for their little girl's birthday surprise
Scots family forced to cancel dream £3000 Disneyland Paris trip after passport delays
Stuart McLean and his wife Claire, from Edinburgh, applied for the travel documents for their two young daughter's in February…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Scottish mum's passport nightmare as family forced to go on holiday without her
Kirsty Morton had applied for passports for both her and her young son ahead of their holiday to Tenerife, but…
Family's dream holiday 'ruined' after mum barred from easyJet plane over Brexit passport rule
The trip to Greece would have been Charlotte and Ronnie Wilton's first family holiday with children Ronnie and Ciara
Get all your news in one place