The passport situation has gotten worse. New data from Squaremouth.com, a U.S. travel insurance marketplace, confirms that the recent surge in passport applications has led to prolonged waiting periods for applicants -- a rush brought on by the crush of Americans who want to fly overseas before prices make it unaffordable.
The situation has also made life confusing for some applicants. ConsumerAffairs recently received an email from one passport applicant who said their grandson's passport was applied for on Feb 24, 2023, for a July 4 departure date. But so far, nothing – almost seven weeks longer than the processing time the passport office said that expedited processing would take.
The reader said the family went as far as appealing to their Congressman and were able to get her husband’s passport, but not her grandson’s.
What can someone do in this situation?
It’s been nothing but crickets from the passport office since it admitted the problem and that’s not helping the situation. If it’s not following through on expedited processing, that’s a major fumble, If going through a Congressional representative can’t shake anything loose, it appears to be a serious bottleneck.
So, are there workarounds?
As far as ConsumerAffairs can tell, the only two things that might get the agency’s immediate attention are life and death emergency situations and “urgent” travel. However, the agency is hosting special passport fairs in California, New Jersey, Florida, and New York to assist people to apply for their passport.
The agency didn't promise that those fairs would move the needle on getting an application processed but said that most events are for first-time customers and children using Form DS-11 to apply. At least it's a shot, right? If someone needs to renew their passport, the agency said these fairs aren’t for them and that they should renew by mail.
The only other option is taking out travel insurance. The analysts at Squaremouth told ConsumerAffairs that while most Trip Cancellation policies won’t cover travelers who are forced to cancel a trip if their passport arrived in time, coverage can be available for those booking trips now, and those concerned with the ongoing passport delays.
“Many policies offer an optional Cancel For Any Reason (“CFAR”) upgrade, which can provide reimbursement for issues not covered under a standard plan, including any passport issue,” a Squaremouth spokesperson said, adding that, at the moment, CFAR policies are running about $599.