The State Department told me to fly to Puerto Rico to renew my passport. There’s something wrong here.
UPDATE! WE GOT THE PASSPORT! MANY MORE HIJINKS ENSUED (AGENCY PRINTER SOFTWARE BROKE DOWN CAUSING DELAY), BUT WE ARE CURRENTLY AT AIRPORT. BLIMEY!!!!!!
For those of you who have yet to absorb recent news alerts about unprecedented delays at the State Department’s passport renewal offices, please let my experience be a cautionary tale. Everyone who has placed “renew passport” a few notches below “research 529’s” and one above “write out a will” on their list of long-term to-do’s, should listen.
I was so proud of myself. There I was, being a gung-ho dad, throwing caution to the wind, disregarding the high costs of post-COVID international travel, making spontaneous plans for my family to visit England for our daughter’s Spring Break this April. It was more than five weeks before we would fly from New York to London on April 7th so that we could catch a Tottenham Hotspur soccer game on the 8th. After, we’d be unabashed tourists, see the sights, eat fish and chips and then visit my friend Jim in Cheltenham, not far from where every year they roll a large round wheel of Gloucester cheese down a steep hill, chased by a scrum of death-defying Brits. We were excited!
I bought the tickets on March 4th, not a bit concerned that my daughter’s passport had just expired. Not to worry, I knew that the State Department, which handles the issuance of passports, had a system in place. If you need a passport and you’re more than 13 weeks from your departure date, then you make an appointment at one of the many passport service locations in libraries and post offices all over the country. They mail you your new passport. And, if you are traveling in less than that time frame, the State Department has several options to expedite the process of obtaining a passport. If you are less than 9 weeks out, as I was, you are instructed to wait until two weeks before your travel date, and then, and only then, you can schedule an appointment for “urgent” travel. So, I just had to wait until two weeks out. I had nothing to worry about.
That’s what I told my friends, a couple, who happened to also be in the same situation as I was. They had also booked a flight within the 9-week window for, you…