Ernie has been looking forward to going to Paris for months. He and his wife love this city. She was going to leave first and spend time in Germany and Italy before joining Ernie in The City of Light. Both were hoping for snow while there.
She was to leave for Germany last week and went to the airport. Way unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed to board because her passport expires in February, 2018. She can’t travel outside the United States until she gets a new one. Au revoir, Paris!
Why is a valid but soon to expire passport often rejected? The answers are many. Israel, for example, will not admit travelers if their passports are not valid for at least 6 months after their departure date. I learned this from Joel Widzer of NBC News. Singapore is another popular destination with a 6 month rule. If you plan to go to Switzerland, your passport must be valid for 3 months.
The U.S. State Department advises that 6 weeks are needed to renew a passport, but I know from personal experience that more time is better. One time Ruth & I almost missed an international trip because we had sent our passports to Washington, DC for the insertion of additional pages and months passed without their return. Ruth and I renew passports about a year before they become invalid.
A lot of travel rules are changing. Stephanie Rosenbloom of The New York Times is especially good at alerting the public about what to expect in the future. For example, in her article “What Travelers Can Expect in the Year Ahead” last Sunday, she warned that we’ll see new airport security procedures in 2018. There will, for example, be more screening of electronic devices larger than cell phones. New procedures are already in effect in some airports.
Someone told me that passengers who are 72 and older automatically qualify for TSA pre-screening without paying a fee. I had not heard this and checked. As far as I can tell, the current Transportation Security Administration rule is, “Passengers 75 and older can receive some form of expedited screening through risk-based intelligence-driven security that allows TSA to better focus resources on passengers who more likely pose a risk.” According to Travel + Leisure, “For a non-refundable $85 fee (payable by money, credit card, or a certified check) you can enroll in TSA PreCheck for five years.” A good rule to follow is “Never assume; verify”.
This is for sure. Beginning on January 22, 2018, if you only carry a valid driver’s license and expect to board a plane with just it as in the past, you many be disappointed. Because of the Real ID Act, Stephanie reports, “you must have an alternative form of identification in order to fly domestically. Check to see if your state is compliant with the Real ID Act by going to dhs.gov/real-id. Some states, like Texas, are compliant. California has been granted an extension, but I don’t know for how long. Carry your passport for all travel or an approved “trusted traveler card” or that trip to Las Vegas might not happen.