Getting Onboard with “The Passport Protector”

June 6, 2014

in Travel Gear

  • SumoMe

You’ve made it through rush hour traffic and arrived at the airport in plenty of time to avoid missing your flight to Europe.

You’ve made through the security checkpoint and get to the gate in plenty of time to avoid missing your flight to Europe.

Airport Screening

(Dan Paluska Flickr Photo)

You’ve made it all the way to the jetway entrance before learning that you won’t be going to Europe after all.

Why?

Passport

(Ho John Lee Flickr Photo)

Because your passport is so dinged up the airline won’t let you board the plane.

That’s what happened when Patrick Dichter tried to fly to Rome. Four days later and $2,500 lighter in the wallet he made it to Europe, but not until after he learned a hard lesson: Don’t travel with a beat-up passport.

Rather than simply settle for replacing his too-well-worn passport, Richter came up with an idea to help other travelers avoid his costly delay: “The Passport Protector” case.

This video demonstrates how the case will work and the process of getting it into the hands of consumers.

After learning about “The Passport Protector” my first question was do airlines actually prevent people from boarding international flights because their passports aren’t in pristine condition?

I’ve flown to London twice on United Airlines, but had no idea that its Website says:

Condition of passports

“Passports must be in good condition. United may not accept passengers for international travel and may deny boarding if a passport is damaged beyond normal wear and tear and/or there is evidence of intentional or material alterations or mutilations.

Examples of conditions of passports that may result in denied boarding include passports with significant tears, holes or stains, as well as any changes, obliterations or alterations, or any other damage that affects the integrity of the passport and/or the identification of the holder, such as the name, date of birth, citizenship and document number. [My emphasis added.]

“For example, a passport with faded data, missing or severely torn, cut or chewed pages or cover, missing picture, picture which can be removed from under the laminate or one which requires tape or staples to hold it together, or which has been substantially damaged by liquids, chemicals or fire, may result in denied boarding.

“To ensure your travel plans are not interrupted, please make sure your passport is in good condition before you leave. For more information about U.S. passports, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.”

The American Airlines Website says that carrier may deny boarding to passengers whose passports are in poor condition.

The Life in Flight blog agrees that a “worn out” passport can keep you grounded until you get a replacement.

So why should the airline care if you passport looks like trash? Shouldn’t it be up to Customs & Immigration at your destination to decide not to allow you into the country because of damage to your passport?

This FlyerTalk.com discussion thread indicates that the airline could face fines, plus the cost of flying the passenger back to the country where they boarded the plane, if the destination country won’t let the passenger enter.

If you are a U.S. citizen and your passport has “seen its better days,” you can’t simply renew it by mail, even if it hasn’t expired or is about to expire. If it has been “mutilated, altered, or damaged” you’ll have to apply for a new passport in person.

If Patrick Dichter’s Indiegogo crowd-funding efforts succeed, he hopes to have “The Passport Protector” case rolling off the manufacturing lines and ready for delivery by sometime in November. You can help fund the project and put in a pre-manufacturing order on “The Passport Protector” Indiegogo page.

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