Couple in holiday nightmare

A Bexhill couple say their first-ever family holiday was ruined when they were told they could not travel with their baby.

Thursday, 1st July 2010, 3:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:15 pm

Chris and Sarah Selkirk were stunned to be informed at Gatwick Airport their seven-month-old daughter would not be allowed through passport control.

They were delayed for investigation then given permission to fly to Bulgaria, but when they landed at Varna the family was held with no explanation in a room with armed officers for approximately two hours.

"I was scared stiff," said dad Chris.

"Sarah was crying her eyes out, and the baby had no milk because it was taken away from us at Gatwick."

The Selkirks, of Pankhurst Rise, were then released to proceed with their holiday and asked their Balkan Holidays rep to find out what the problem was, with no success.

Their return trip home was equally difficult, according to Chris, when they encountered similar hold-ups at check-in and passport control.

He said: "The way back was worse.

"They refused again to let us out of the country. All of the English people in the queue behind us kicked up '“ there was a whole plane-load of English people behind us.

"They pushed us to the side and said '“ you are not going anywhere.

"The English people started shouting, saying '“ what's going on? Let the baby through.

"We were in front of everybody, with Sarah crying, and we didn't know if we were getting home or not. It look nearly two hours to sort it out.

"Then we were allowed on the plane... and back at Gatwick we went through passport control with no problem."

The Selkirks are now at a loss to understand whey they experienced such problems on holiday and wonder if there is a problem with the baby's passport.

They had travelled to Bulgaria in the past, before Shelby was born, and had been looking forward to the trip which they booked as usual through Thomson Holidays in Western Road.

A travel assistant from Thomson made phone calls on their behalf the day before departure to check that they would be allowed through with their baby's Cow and Gate tamperproof carton of milk.

Now they are recovering from the "stress and anxiety" of their experience and say they will never go back.

They are still hoping from an answer from Balkan Holidays as to why the hold-ups took place.

Chris said: "I don't want any compensation. I don't ever want to go back there again. This frightened me. I took the baby there because I like the country. I am not going back there in my life.

"They could offer me a free holiday and I wouldn't have it. It has upset me, all this... it is so frightening to be there with a little baby of seven months and you cannot find out why she can't get through. And no-one can explain it to us.

"This was supposed to be our first holiday as a family."

A Balkan Holidays spokesman said that Mr and Mrs Selkirk were "loyal clients" and reiterated that the holiday was provided in full.

He commented: "We can confirm however there was a short delay at check-in at both Gatwick Airport on the outbound and Varna Airport on the return as a result of an administrative error on behalf of Bulgaria Air.

"This issue however was very quickly resolved and all our clients, including Mr, Mrs and Miss Selkirk boarded the aircraft and departed on time. There was no question or suggestion, that any member of the family would be refused travel.

"We are very surprised to learn of the claim that there were problems upon arrival at the Bulgarian Border. Balkan Holidays Airport Representative who met the flight has confirmed that Mr and Mrs Selkirk exited the baggage reclaim area in a timely manner and in fact before some other clients who were still waiting for their luggage at the carousel. They did not report any problems at that time or seek any assistance."

Thomson responded by saying they were "disappointed" to learn of the Selkirk's experiences with Balkan Holidays and "sympathise" with the family.

A spokesman said: "Whilst travelling on holiday the family experienced difficulties in proceeding through check-in at London Gatwick airport and were also held in Bulgaria for a short time. This was due to their daughter's name having not correctly been entered onto the booking by Balkan Holidays.

"Although the Selkirk family booked their holiday through our Thomson Travel Shop in Bexhill, Thomson was merely acting as an agent on behalf of Balkan Holidays. As the provider of the holiday, Balkan Holidays are responsible for this error.

"We sympathise with Selkirk family and we will be happy to continue to assist them in their correspondence with Balkan Holidays should they wish."