A COUNTY Durham mother has spoken of her family's nightmare after passport delays forced them to cancel a dream holiday to Disneyland Paris.

Deanne Connor of Willington, near Crook, said despite applying for the passports required several weeks in advance of their flight, they did not arrive in time. 

Although they managed to book a second holiday later, they are out of pocket as they battle to reclaim their airfares from their cancelled flight.

Read more: Holidaymakers given date they should renew passports by for summer 22 

Their experience comes as thousands of families face losing holidays they have booked for this summer because of the delays.

The Northern Echo: The Connors on their holiday at Disneyland Paris. From left mum Deanne, grandmum Mary, dad James, Finley and Lola The Connors on their holiday at Disneyland Paris. From left mum Deanne, grandmum Mary, dad James, Finley and Lola

Mrs Connor told The Northern Echo: "I applied for my son’s first passport and my daughter’s renewal on January 27, because we were due to go to Disneyland Paris on March 18. We applied online and it ended up going to Liverpool to be processed.

Read more: Holidaymakers jet off on first TUI flight from Teesside Airport

"Normally they have never taken longer than four weeks. Then they just didn't turn up. We were ringing them non-stop and they were like 'it could come' and 'it may not come”. Every time we called we got someone different on the phone.

“We even had one of the lads say to us ‘it's getting printed this weekend you will definitely have it’. There was no no such thing.

"We were due to fly on the Thursday by the Monday it didn't turn up, so we had to cancel."

Explaining that her daughter's passport arrived within seven weeks but her son's had not arrived after ten, Mrs Connor said the family had been left "frustrated and angry" by the ordeal.

The Northern Echo: Finley Connor with his new passport Finley Connor with his new passport

As a result, Lola, nine, Finley, four, dad James, and grandmother Mary Saunders, along with Deanne, were forced to reschedule their trip, but still remain out of pocket for the airfares from the original journey. 

Mrs Connor said: “I've been under so much stress. I’ve heard the passport office is understaffed. I just think it's people’s money that they've worked hard for." 

The Home Office is urging travellers to get their passport applications in “as soon as possible” as the 10-week processing target introduced last April is repeatedly being breached.

Travellers have been left hundreds of pounds out of pocket because of being unable to fly after their new passports failed to arrive in time. Some have been reported to be waiting up to five months from application.

According to the Home Office, more than five million people have applied for passports after the ending of Covid restrictions.

The EU’s introduction of post-Brexit rules that require passports to have at least three months’ validity remaining has added to the pressures.

The Home Office said: “Since April 2021, we have been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their British passport as more than 5 million people delayed applying due to the pandemic.

"We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible, with the vast majority of all passports applications are being dealt with well within 10 weeks.

“To deal with this demand, we have increased staff numbers by 500 since April 2021. This has helped us to handle more applications than ever before, with more than one million passport applications processed in March 2022.”

The Home Office is advising people not to book travel until they have a valid passport - the new passport will not have the same passport number as your old one.

Anyone with queries on specific applications can call the Passport Advice Line on 0300 222 0000.


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