Adventures in Passport Renewalby ExperiencePlus! - Monday, November 1, 2010
By ExperiencePlus! Customer Steve Johnson
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 8 PM
With less than 24 hours until a scheduled departure to join one of ExperiencePlus! partner tours (TourzPlus!) to bicycle in Croatia, I started to check-in online for the Lufthansa flight to Munich tomorrow. As part of the online check-in process, I needed information from my passport.
My passport expired in February this year? That can’t be. I just used it for travel in May to the Virgin Islands. Guess they don’t check them very thoroughly. I wonder if I can get by one more trip on an expired passport? Probably not.
I quickly got on the phone with the passport office, who recommended rescheduling the trip. I can’t do that! We’ve been planning this for too long. Finally, I was able to get an appointment at the Washington, DC passport office at 9:30 AM, September 2nd to get an expedited passport. Quickly booked a last minute flight to DC for tomorrow; a 6:00 AM flight scheduled to arrive at 7:23AM with a return flight arriving in Charlotte at 1:29 PM. Should be time to drive back home, get luggage for the Croatia trip, and then leave for the airport again by 3 PM. Should work, if I can stay on schedule.
Printed the passport application form and filled it out. Needed to get passport photos and found that CVS Pharmacy, about 2 miles away, can do them until 9 PM. Mad rush, got there, got the pictures. My alarm is set for 4 AM to get to the airport for the 6 AM flight.
Thursday, September 2, 2010 5:30 AM
So far, it’s one of those days that everything is working out great. No traffic driving to the airport. Quickly found a parking place. Shuttle bus was right there. Walked directly from the car to the bus without stopping. Fast security; no line, no waiting. Flight is looking at an on-time departure. Hope this continues.
Spoke too soon. After taxiing to the runway, the plane returned to the terminal and the flight was delayed indefinitedly for mechanical reasons. I managed to change to a 7:50 AM flight which arrives at 9:09 AM. Not the “plenty of time” margin I had before for my 9:30 AM appointment.
Landed at Reagan National Airport and hopped on the subway to downtown. The passport office honored the appointment even though I arrived 20 minutes late. Received my new passport at 11:20 AM and made a mad dash to the airport for my 12:10 PM flight. Got there just in time to watch it leave the gate without me on board.
Checked on later flight options and found a 2 PM flight to Charlotte but it’s full. The next flight has plenty of space but gets into Charlotte too late to catch my 5:35 PM international flight.
I stood by for the 2 PM flight. After everyone boarded, 2 seats remained and I got the second one, based on my frequent traveler status with US Airways. Arrived at the Charlotte airport at 3:15 PM just in time to meet my wife, Dona, at the curb, with the luggage and check-in for our flight to Munich. Went through security, enjoyed the US Airways club, boarded the plane, relaxed, and had a well-deserved drink. Surprisingly, during all the ID checks, no one noticed (or mentioned, anyway) the fact that my passport had been issued today!
I’ll never complain when ExperiencePlus! asks for my passport details, and I’ll check the expiration date on my passport months before I travel internationally. I hope.