Why don’t Passport centers take Passport photos?

Personal,travel by on April 7, 2008 at 8:17 am

Our Costa Rica vacation got off to an excellent start as I was denied boarding at LAX (after flying the first leg from Seattle). Thanks to a United passport-scanning kiosk, my passport has had a small tear in it for a few months now. The tear has slowly grown as careless airline personnel swept it through their readers. I’ve gotten a few second glances from passport control, but no one felt it necessary to even suggest I replace it.

Is the quick-print photo lobby that strong?
By the time that TACA airlines got through with my passport late last night, they had increased the tear to a full 1.5 inches along the front cover. At which point, they refused to allow me on the plane.

TACA was the ‘operating airline’ for the latter half of our flight. They were unable to do anything with our tickets so they sent us to United. The United desk agents refused to believe that I could replace my passport in a day. They wouldn’t book us on the next flight - they just offered to ‘annotate our record’ to make rebooking easier. A bit of gentle insistence and they finally gave us a reservation on the next flight.

The passport office will only do same-day passports if you can prove you need same-day passports (eg show a ticket or reservation). United almost put me in an unwinnable situation. If I had listened to United the first, second and third time they refused to put us on the next flight, we would continue to be stuck in LA at a ghetto airport hotel.

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the armpits of United’s employees and those of its subsidiaries
The uneducated consumer consistently gets screwed by the airlines. Every time something goes wrong, their default decision is to screw the customer. No wonder they’re going bankrupt. Its hard to run a successful business when your best customers (I’m a Premiere Executive) passionately hate you.

BTW, my collection of lessons learned is here: Getting a same-day passport


  1. Sumit — April 7, 2008 @ 11:04 am

    Upon returning to SFO’s Int’l terminal from LHR last Fri, I saw a strange symbol on the sign that said “US Citizens” which looked somewhat like a cassette tape. i then noticed the same symbol on my (relatively new) passport.

    i asked the customs agent what the symbol was all about and she explained to me it was an electronic chip containing all my info. i was super excited about this at first, until i asked “so how does this benefit me? faster processing? easier replacement? something else??”

    answer: “well, actually, there’s no benefit to you.”

    awesome. thanks US Customs. for nothing.

  2. Shelly Lennon — April 25, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

    friend of mine discovered this handy web site for making passport photos online: ePassportPhoto.com – check it out!

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