You’ve planned your dream trip. Or your honeymoon. Or a much-needed vacation. You are at the airport, ready to relax. But then, as you are boarding your flight to paradise, the gate agent stops you. Your passport, which shows signs of damage, is too damaged for the airline to allow you on the plane. You are stuck. Grounded because of passport damage.
This story is not at all far fetched, and in fact just recently happened to a bride who was embarking on her honeymoon. Her and her new husband had to spend around $2,000 in re-booking fees to salvage their trip.
I also know someone who had this happen to her. The airline employee told her to run and get some glue to secure her passport cover better. She grabbed some crazy glue, repaired her passport cover, and was able to board her flight. The reason the airline agent cited for not allowing her to board with her passport in the original condition it was in: Officials in the foreign country she was traveling to may have suspected that her passport was counterfeit because the cover was torn and loose, and could have denied her entry into the country.
Given the fact that counterfeiting of passports is an issue the world over, this isn’t an unreasonable concern.
According to the U.S. State Department: “If your passport has been significantly damaged, especially the book cover or the page displaying your personal data and photo, you will need to apply for a new passport. Conditions that may constitute damage requiring you to replace your passport include water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages (torn out), a hole punch, or other injuries. Normal wear of a U.S. passport is expected and likely does not constitute “damage.”
The issue: Airline representatives have to make judgment calls based on their experience on what constitutes “wear and tear” versus “damage.” And no one wants to be the employee to send someone through only to have them deported back to the U.S. immediately. And even for domestic flights, starting as soon as early 2016, ID holders from a handful states (including New York) will have to have a passport to fly even domestically. So that added wear and tear of having to present your passport even for domestic flights can cause major issues for your passport preservation.
So be sure to protect your passport, as it is your most important and valuable official document. This is a large portion of the reason that BarrisTourista created passport holders and just opened the sale. After not being able to find a fashionable passport holder I liked, I decided to create them myself. And with increasing stories of airline representatives cracking down, I am glad I did.
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