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.
Check out the complete line of covers here.
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I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I think it’s a person’s personal responsibility to make sure their passport stays in good condition, or get a new one made. These are kind of things you should do preparing for a big trip anyway.
I agree, Heather, but the issue comes with the fact that it is on a case by case basis, I think. Like what if your passport gets bent in your bag on the way to the airport. How much damage is too much? Either way, at least passport holders help with some of that.
Miranda (Myrabev) says
I think I would flip if such a thing happened to me all because I did not check my passport properly. I am glad that my passport is new and the issuer even provided me with a leather cover for it.
Mary Edwards says
I had no idea that they would not let you on a plane if your passport was damaged! I need to renew mine anyways so I’ll make sure it stays in great condition.
Wow, I never put much thought into the condition of my passport. How horrible to be told you can’t board a plane because of it.
Lisa, right? I mean who really contemplates that ahead of time. That’s why I am trying to spread awareness!
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
This is a good tip. It’s unbelievable what a nightmare passport damage could present! Passport holders sound like a great idea!
Jenn, that’s why I designed a line of passport holders! I had a hard time finding ones I liked, so I created a bunch of designs myself.
Erica Brooks says
I’ll be getting passports for my family next year so this information will definitely come in handy. I used to travel internationally years ago but that was before 9/11 and so much has changed now. Thanks for the update.
Heather @ Kraus House Mom says
My husband worked for a passport expediting company and they got so many requests from people that had torn or wet passports.
Exactly Heather! It happens so frequently, and you may not realize it’s an issue until the last moment. That’s partly why I made passport covers, because I felt I needed one myself!
lisa @bitesforbabies says
Wow, I’ve never heard of being grounded for some of these issues!! I’ve travel quite a bit and my passport is in tip-top shape (thank goodness!)
aaronica (the crunchy mommy) says
oh wow! i had no idea that this was even an issue! thank you for shedding light on this!
Miles L. says
Yes, I figured out it is one of the reasons you might miss your flight. This is why we must take care of our passport and don’t let it get damaged.
The problem, Miles, is that it is subject to the discretion of the gate agent. What if it drops in a puddle and dried crinkly while traveling. Or the cover gets bent in your bag while traveling? For some that may be enough of an issue! Protection is key, and if in doubt err on the side of caution!
Angelic Sinova says
I’m traveling aboard for the first time in a few months (I’m going to Paris for my birthday) so this is an eye opener for me! I could be so upset if I my passport was damaged and they grounded me!
Angelic, have an amazing time! I am heading to Paris next year! And report back on your time there! 🙂
Terri Ramsey Beavers says
Great info on passports. I’ve always just used my birth certificate instead of my passport but I’ve been meaning to get one regardless.
I couldn’t imagine how embarrassing it would be to have this happen to me. Your passport holders sound like a great preventive measure.
Thanks, Cassie! I tried to create something functional but also fashionable. Please check them out and spread the word. Bit.ly/BTTravelStore! 🙂
I had no idea that this was even a problem! This is so good to know! I will definitely have to look into a cover for ours! Thanks!
Absolutely Chantal! Check out BarrisTourista’s at Bit.ly/BTTravelStore! ??
Rebecca Swenor says
This is indeed great information for those who are traveling. I didn’t know that in 2016 there will be domestic flights you will need a passport for which is really a good idea now days. Passport covers are the way to go for sure. Thanks for sharing the information.
Rebecca, yes residents of certain states (like NY) will need a passport even for domestic flights. That is why I developed a line of passport holders through BarrisTourista Travel Store. So important to protect, especially when your passport is getting frequent use!
Aisha Kristine Chong says
Important things as such is really to be taken care of carefully… passport and any identification shouldn’t be damage at all. Totally reminded me of my trip next month – have to double check.
Stephanie of The TipToe Fairy says
This is good to know. I need to renew mine as it expired a few years ago.
Absolutely, Stephanie! Plus the way international airfare has been lately, it is cheaper to travel abroad than domestically.
Winter White says
Great info to know, I haven’t thought about this so it’s a great reminder
This is a problem? I had no idea! Clearly I havent travelled enough for this to be something I know! Now I’ll be ready in case I do international travel!
Allison Jones says
I had no clue that this could even happen! I usually keep my passport in a cover, but this is a reminder to always make sure it’s in pristine shape.
Wow, I never knew that this even existed! I don’t travel abroad but one day. I’ll have ot keep this in mind and share with my traveling friends.
Kirstin N. Fuller (@thetravelindiva) says
Great advice! I’m really particular (lol) so my passport was put in a cover from day one. This is truly great advice. No one wants to have to re-book a trip because of their passport being raggedy.
Kirstin, I am kind of the same way! I know that couple was shocked and so upset when they had to spend thousands to rebook! That is so tragic!
Katherine G says
Thanks so much for sharing this information. I have yet to get on a plane but I may sooner or later so this is definitely information that I would need to know.
Katherine, get out there an explore! There is so much world to see! 😀
Patrice M Foster says
This is good to know to keep my passport secure. Having travel much out of the country will be doing this more next year thanks for the information.
Shantel Collins says
Great info and a good reminder to make sure the passport is in good condition to avoid having it denied. Will share this with my parents. They travel abroad a lot.
Frugal Flirty N Fab says
Had no idea a damaged passport could land you in such hot water! Thanks for sharing!
This reminds me, I need to renew mine. It’s in perfect condition, except it’s expired! Thanks!
Girl, get on that! 2016 is just around the corner!