Sharon Dempsey, 65, from Scotland, spent more than 24 hours in a detention center in Alicante after losing her British passport on the British Airways flight
A traumatized great-grandmother has been locked in a cell at a Spanish airport after losing her passport on a British Airways flight.
Sharon Dempsey, 65, was flying away for a two week holiday in Benidorm with her brother Thomas Donnelly when the terrifying ordeal began.
The holidaymaker, from Glasgow, Scotland, realized her passport was missing when she landed in Alicante on Saturday morning.
She was then taken to a detention center by Spanish police and remained there until 12:30 p.m. the next day.
Due to Brexit, UK passport holders can only enter Spain with a stamped passport.
After Sharon arrived without the papers, she reportedly went without food and water for more than 24 hours as frantic parents tried to resolve the issue.
The pensioner was not even allowed to go outside to smoke a cigarette while in detention.
Fighting back tears, Sharon told the Record: “I’m so exhausted, I can’t think straight about what happened. I’m totally devastated by the way I was treated.
“Thomas is still in Benidorm and I want to get an emergency passport to join him, but I don’t think I can do it in time. I’ve only just returned to Glasgow now, it’s dreadful.”
Sharon was able to return to London Gatwick on Sunday lunchtime thanks to her daughter Adele Dempsey who obtained documents from the Foreign Office.
The exhausted nan did not return home to Drumchapel until Monday morning.
Her long-awaited fortnight in the sun was set aside to celebrate Thomas surviving quadruple bypass surgery last year, when she survived three fatal bouts of Covid-19.
But their all-inclusive getaway turned into a nightmare when the great-grandmother of three and grandmother of 14 was arrested.
Meanwhile, intensive care nurse Adele, 34, has tried everything to get her mother released.
“I know the rules are the rules, but she was being treated like a criminal, not just someone who accidentally lost her passport,” she told Glasgow Live.
“She knows for sure she had it when she got on the plane because she had it open in case it needed to be checked.
“It wasn’t checked on the plane, so she put it back in her bag which was then kept under the seat in front of her. It wasn’t until she took the shuttle to the airport that she realized that wasn’t the case.
“She tried to pick up the shuttle to try and get it back but the staff were unhelpful and said the cleaners can often throw away passports if left on the flight.
“She started to panic and was explaining what had happened to them in Spanish but the passport was nowhere to be found.
“My uncle waited on the other side of passport control and we finally told him to go to the hotel and wait. My mother was kept there overnight.”
Adele added: “My mum was held in a cell-like airport detention center and was given nothing decent to eat or drink. She had two cold rolls and water and that’s all.
“She was obviously very stressed but they didn’t even allow her to go outside to smoke a cigarette or give her hot meals.”
Adele, who now lives in Donegal, Northern Ireland, spoke to the consulate who advised her to book a flight back to Glasgow for Sharon after receiving emergency paperwork from them.
But Spanish authorities reportedly said his return flight had to be with British Airways.
Their next available flight to the UK was to London Gatwick, and not until lunchtime on Sunday.
“On Sunday, without any explanation, my mum drove through Alicante and was put on a flight from London by the police, arm in arm,” Adele added.
“The police then met her on the other side, it was like she was a criminal. My mum was embarrassed because naturally everyone on the flight from Gatwick was staring at her. She was in a terrible state, really upset.
“She said she didn’t even wash her face and felt so dirty and was left in tears outside Gatwick with another long wait to get back to Glasgow.”
The Home Office told The Record that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office helped a woman who lost her passport on her outbound flight to Spain.
He confirmed he was working with the Spanish authorities, as well as Border Force, to facilitate his return to the UK.