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My mother in law and my two children (7&5) were forbidden to board the plane (Nice-Geneva) yesterday (easyJet Flight ETGK14C) for not having the right papers. They had been cleared by border control and were told they could not board once they tried to enter the plane. They were left on the runway and had to call my father in law to alert someone from the airport as they could not reenter.

I checked the easyJet Terms and Conditions website thoroughly prior to departure to ensure everything was in order for their flight (we have had no difficulties before despite my mother in law flying with them numerous times) and there is no information on the website regarding any ‘special papers’ needed for French children (only Spanish, Romanian etc). It states:

11.3 French Children Under 18 Years

French Children under 18 travelling without their parents/legal guardians must travel with:

  • A passport; or
  • An ID card (for those destination countries that do not require a passport).

As a result of this, my children are extremely upset and I am having to drive 6 hours there and back to Nice to collect them in time for school as there are no other flights available. My mother in law is also unable to take her Geneva - Nice return flight which was booked for today. easyJet customer service have been decidedly unhelpful despite contacting them 4 times.

Please advise as to what to do - I feel that we are due compensation but easyJet are unwilling to pay.

  • 1
    Did they actually go through border control? This seems highly unlikely as a NCE-GVA flight is considered a domestic French flight, and even if it wasn’t it would be an intra-Schengen flight. I don’t understand the issue about “they could not reenter”? What is the nationality of the children (and yours), and what is their place of residence? What travel documents did they have? – jcaron Feb 24 '18 at 23:45
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In the first place, a flight from a French airport to Geneva should be considered a domestic French flight (you arrive in the French sector), so the whole question of an AST is absurd.

If the flight isn’t considered as such, then the next question is the place of residence of the children. If it is Switzerland (and this was evident to the staff), then there is no need for an AST either.

If the flight isn’t considered domestic (which is wrong) and they reside in France, then they would need an AST.

IANAL, but if your representation of the situation is correct (see my comments on your questions for my interrogations about it), then you seem to have a strong case for unjustified denied boarding and are due compensation under EC261.

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I suspect that the EasyJet website is not up to date (and I am sure they have a disclaimer that says they are not responsible if they do not show the correct information).

After a quick google I ended up on this page: France – Parental Authorization Required for Children Travelling out of the Country (which is not an official French government site - so again this may not be 100% accurate). This states in part:

Effective January 15, 2017, every minor child (under the age of eighteen (18)) residing in France who travels without a person who has parental authority will require an authorization to leave the country, signed by the person with parental authority. Previously, this authorization was not required.

I suspect that your mother-in-law is also not considered someone with parental authority

This site states that the requirements for travel are:

  • a valid ID (passport or ID card for French or EU nationals)
  • a visa where applicable
  • a copy of the parent’s ID: valid passport or ID card (for French or EU nationals only) or residence permit
  • the authorization form signed by the person with parental authority

The page I linked to has a link to the PDF version of the form that you as a parent are supposed to fill in and sign. This form is Cerfa N° 15646*01 and has the title

AUTORISATION DE SORTIE DU TERRITOIRE (AST) D’UN MINEUR NON ACCOMPAGNÉ PAR UN TITULAIRE DE L’AUTORITÉ PARENTALE

and has the subtitle

article 371-6 du code civil; décret n° 2016-1483 du 2 novembre 2016 relatif à l’autorisation de sortie du territoire d’un mineur non accompagné par un titulaire de l’autorité parentale ; arrêté du 13 décembre 2016

Given that this all seems legitimate I would say that you really have no case for easyJet to compensate you. However I do understand why you are upset. Your Mother-in-law and your children really should not have gotten so far into the airport before being denied boarding.

OK, by searching for the cerfa number I found the official French page for it:

Autorisation de sortie de territoire (AST)

Which has in it:

L'enfant qui voyage à l'étranger sans être accompagné de l'un de ses parents doit être muni des documents suivants :

  • Pièce d’identité valide du mineur : carte d'identité ou passeport accompagné éventuellement d'un visa si le pays de destination l'exige (à vérifier en consultant les fiches pays du site diplomatie.gouv.fr )
  • Photocopie de la carte d'identité ou passeport du parent signataire Le titre doit être valide ou périmé depuis moins de 5 ans
  • Original du formulaire cerfa n°15646*01 signé par l'un des parents titulaire de l'autorité parentale

Update

From the comments below this question has become more nuanced than my understanding of the situation and I don't read French and IANAL (especially in France).

Sarah has pointed out that her children would have exited on the French side of the Geneva airport. I did a quick google and saw something that implied that only domestic French flights land there. This may imply that they were not leaving French territory.

Phoog has pointed out that the law seems to be based on the children's place of residence, and that if they reside in Geneva is it even applicable to them?

I think that the correct understanding of the laws and whether easyJet owes compensation will come down to some very nuanced arguments.

So I am no longer confident that my google skills alone suffice for this question.

  • service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1359 gives the legal background. Notice that a french minor living abroad or a non-french minor does not need the AST. – audionuma Feb 24 '18 at 15:16
  • @audionuma I found it at the same time you did. But with me not speaking French I wasn't too worried about the particulars - especially as the OP's flight originates in Nice – Peter M Feb 24 '18 at 15:17
  • @audionuma so if the children reside in Geneva the denial of boarding was indeed improper? – phoog Feb 24 '18 at 15:20
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    My main gripe is that they passed border control and if there would have have been an issue, surely it should have been for them to sort out and not the easy jet staff? – Sarah Armstrong Feb 24 '18 at 15:55
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    @SarahArmstrong how could they have passed border control? There is no border control for flights between France and Switzerland because such flights are internal Schengen flights. They passed airport security, but there's no border control. – phoog Feb 24 '18 at 23:20

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