Almost made the worst mistake possible….

Oh my, what a close call! There are certain mistakes frequent flyers simply don’t make, or at the very least shouldn’t make — arriving at the airport three hours before departure, not taking laptops or liquids out of your bag in the US, and arriving at the airport with expired documents, for example. I’ll even be the first person to say “what an idiot” when someone shows up at the airport with an expired passport.

Well, I was nearly that idiot, or at least I take take blame for this, since it nearly ruined our trip. As I’ve mentioned a billion times before, we’re off to Asia on Saturday, and I’m excited.

For the past several months I’ve reminded my dad to check his passport expiration date, and he always assured me that his passport had plenty of life left in it. When I visited him last Friday he even verified, and mentioned that his passport was good through June of this year, so he’ll have to get it renewed soon. For some reason I didn’t think much of it at the time.

Fast forward to today. I called Cathay Pacific to change to row two for our YYZ-HKG flight, and the agent began rattling off all the requirements for our trip. Blah, blah, blah. I never listen to them, because it’s all obvious stuff. I didn’t want to be rude so I let her go through her script, up until the point at which she said “passports must be valid for at least six months from the start date of travel.” That caught my attention and my heart immediately started racing. Could I have made such a classic newbie mistake? Why didn’t I notice the first time my dad mentioned his passport was only good through June?

At this point I immediately started picturing the worst. Heck, I was already wondering what we would do with the 270,000 American Airlines miles that were about to be redeposited, since I figured we would have to cancel the trip.

Since my dad has a German passport he called the Consulate General in Miami, where he was able to schedule an appointment for a one year extension. That means he’ll be making the five hour drive (in each direction) to Miami on Thursday. Fortunately he’ll also be getting his passport renewed for another 10 years, which he’d have to do either way, so it’s not totally in vain.

Still, that was a close one. Had I not called Cathay Pacific to change seats and had the agent not rattled off the details I was hardly listening to, we would have shown up at the airport on Saturday and would’ve been denied boarding. Can you imagine how much of an idiot I would’ve felt like?

Sometimes I wonder whether I’m really losing it….

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Heh. As soon as I read the “passport expires in June” I knew where that was going. 😉

    Of course, only because I was alerted by the title to be on the lookout for looming catastrophe… 🙂

  2. FortFun, I’m not writing a murder novel here. I didn’t feel *that* much of a need to keep you on the edge of your seat. 😀

  3. I have been known to arrive at the airport three hours before departure, and I consider myself an expert traveler. The newbie’s mistake is thinking that they NEED to be at the airport three hours before departure.

    Thanks for the passport reminder. My partner’s expires sometime in 2010, so I guess we should address that issue sooner that later.

  4. You’re right Gene, there definitely are cases in which we arrive several hours early, but we actually sort of have a reason. What cracks me up is those that arrive at the airport three hours early for a domestic flight that’s scheduled to leave at 6AM.

  5. Well, Ben, some people just like to enjoy the cosy comfortable atmosphere at their local RCC for 2 hrs and 30 minutes 😉

    So in a way, your seat obsession saved your trip, eh? And the F cabin would almost have gone out empty.

  6. I know someone who showed up at the airport for an international flight without knowing he needed a passsport to travel overseas.

  7. Yeah, if you hadn’t been in the F cabin you hoped would end up almost empty, it would’ve been the ultimate irony 😉

  8. Wait a minute. Your Dad is driving to Miami? He hasn’t learned anything from you about earning miles and points. He could go TPA-IAD-SFO-SEA-IAD-MIA and back again.

  9. At least you got warned – I left Darwin Australia for Indonesia with exactly 6 months left on my passport, but landed just after midnight. This basically made my passport invalid. Suffice it to say that after some long discussions, I was allowed to stay in the country with the rest of my family, which, for some strange reason had passports that expired a day later than mine.

  10. You can get a one year extension in a day? Getting a new passport from many EU country takes at least a week, they aren’t “made in the USA”. The consulates send the information back to capital and the passport is generated there and send back to the consulate…..

    I didn’t know germans were that anal about their titles “Certified copy of your German doctorate certificate if you would like to have your German doctorate degree entered in your passport”. How does a PhD title help you enter a country?

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