Dad locked in Croatian cell after using stepdaughter’s passport to go on holiday

A man found himself locked in a Croatian prison for the duration of his holiday after guards at the border realised he’d tried to enter the country with someone else’s documents.

The father realised he’d somehow managed to leave Manchester using his step-daughter’s passport to board his flight.

David Chadwick, 57, was excited to jet off to Croatia on his Ryanair flight for five days alongside his wife Alison, 46.

However, after the plane touched down he was stopped by border guards at Zagreb Airport.

David then realised that he’d brought his step-daughter’s passport rather than his own.

The stunned father had no personal ID of his own and so was detained in a cell at Zagreb Airport.

He was then escorted onto his original flight home and detained at Manchester Airport.

David was eventually released when his identification was proved using snaps of his passport and drivers licence on his phone.

Senior international clinical manager David, who lives in Standish with Alison and Katherine, who are both nurses, said: "I was simply gutted, and embarrassed at the same time.

"I pride myself in never having the wrong things in hand luggage and always having the correct documentation, so I couldn't believe it had happened.

“I think our faces said it all.

“I accept it's half my fault for picking up the wrong passport, but you'd think that post 9/11, I wouldn't have been able to board a plane with a female name and photo of my daughter on!”

He continued: “When I finally got back to the UK, the border force at Manchester Airport couldn't believe I got to Croatia with the wrong passport. The most perplexed was the Zagreb UK consulate as to how I'd managed to get to Croatia in the first place.

"This was a much needed break for both of us – my wife is an NHS nurse who worked all the way through the pandemic whilst I worked in clinical research – but I spent the whole time in a cell. It was gutting."

David and Alison had looked forward to their holiday after working through the pandemic.

It seemed that David had simply grabbed the two passports in the drawer of the coffee table and not checked who they belonged to.

And, his own passport was still in his work bag after a trip three weeks prior.

When they arrived in Zagreb Alison had to travel on to their Airbnb alone as David was held in a cell.

David said: "The police officer in Zagreb was really nice – he tried to get us straight back on a flight home when he realised the mistake but, as you can imagine, no other airline would take me without a valid passport.

“He had to break the news to Alison that she would have to enter Croatia alone as he needed to lock me up.

"I was locked up on Sunday and he was nice enough to let me out of my cell for five minutes when he was next on duty on Tuesday, and then I was released on Thursday and sent home.

"The owner of the Airbnb apartment that we had rented was utterly brilliant too – she waited for Alison to arrive, then stayed and had a drink with her to calm her nerves. She also phoned her every day to check she was alright."

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Sadly, David claims that Ryanair wouldn’t help after he contacted them from his cell and he hasn’t heard from them since April 28 when he got home.

The Foreign Office had spoken to the police in Zagreb on his behalf to try and secure emergency documentation but as David couldn't enter the country, there was no way of him collecting the documents.

David said: "I'm extremely disappointed to not have seen what looked to be a beautiful country.

"Alison and I had to use WhatsApp voice notes and pictures to communicate – we couldn't physically speak to each other as the one time we did, both of us got too upset to continue the conversation.

"[My stepdaughter] was so worried when we told her – her mum in a new country and her stepdad in a cell. It's not the kind of pressure you'd ever want to put on a 21 year old.

“I will definitely go back to Croatia in the future – the police officer and the owner of the Airbnb flat demonstrated how nice Croatian people are. I'll just make sure I have the right passport next time!"

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A spokesman for Ryanair said: "This passenger was detained by Croatian authorities on arrival to Zagreb, following his flight from Manchester (24 Apr) for failing to travel with his own passport. It is each passenger’s responsibility to ensure they have a correct and valid passport for travel.

"Our airport handling agents incorrectly allowed this passenger to board and we have liaised with our handling agents in Manchester to ensure this error does not recur."

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