Most mothers would be flattered to be mistaken for their daughter.
But in Sally Nayler’s case the comparison was not only farcical but also exposed lax security at a busy airport.
The 47-year-old caught a flight from Southend in Essex to Alicante in Spain without realising she had picked up her 17-year-old daughter Shelby’s passport.
She managed to go through security and airline checks with no one realising a white middle-aged woman was carrying identification for a mixed race teenager with a distinctive afro hairstyle.
It was only when she tried to return home with easyJet a few days later that the error was spotted and she was told she could not board the flight.
Miss Nayler, a project manager for a charity, on Thursday said the public were at risk if passengers were able to walk through airport terminals without proper checks being carried out.
“I think it shows security is lacking at the airport. I could have been a criminal or a terrorist,” she said.
“They couldn’t have checked my passport properly as my daughter is of mixed race and has an afro hairdo.”
Miss Nayler left for the popular tourist destination on April 25 as part of a 12-strong group of family and friends who were taking part in a hen party.
She was rushing out of her home in Benfleet, Essex, when she grabbed her daughter’s passport by mistake.
“I went through security and handed over my boarding pass and passport and caught the flight,” the single mother of one said.
“We had a great weekend and were due to fly home on the Monday. When I tried to board the flight home I wasn’t allowed on the plane.
“They said I would have to go back through the airport and go to British Consulate to sort it out. I know I’m a grown woman but it was really scary. Thankfully an aunt refused to fly back without me and stayed with me. The easyJet desk at Alicante got me a hotel near the consulate and arranged a flight back the next day on an emergency passport which cancels my old passport.
“If Southend airport had spotted it, I could have got my father to bring my own one. We had a wonderful weekend but this spoilt it all.”
Southend airport, which takes 970 000 passengers every year, has apologised to Miss Nayler and offered free parking and the use of the VIP terminal on her next flight.
A spokesman for the airport said last night: “Security and the safety of our passengers and aircraft is of paramount concern.
“A full investigation is now in progress into the circumstances outlined by Miss Nayler and appropriate action regarding staff and procedures will be taken when we know the outcome of that investigation.
“We would like to apologise to Miss Nayler for any distress caused by her experience.”
An easyJet spokesman said: “We are investigating how the passenger was able to travel from London Southend with incorrect documentation.
“We can confirm that the correct passport details had been submitted online in order to gain access to the boarding pass, however as an additional measure a visual identification should have occurred prior to travel.
“When the documentation issue was raised at Alicante, airport staff assisted the customer in arranging an emergency passport and alternative flights, and the customer has since received compensation for all associated costs.”
The UK Border Agency said it has responsibility only for incoming flights and airport security is in charge of flights out of the country. - Daily Mail