In May, Paula Knight, 33, was gearing up for a family trip to Mallorca when she realized she, her husband and her 11-year-old daughter would all must renew their passports before traveling in early July. And her son, who’s 8 months old, didn’t have one in any respect.
She first reached out to a non-public passport expediter in her hometown, Austin, Texas, but after paying them greater than $500 in hopes of getting the passports inside just a few days, she was surprised to be told that they expected the method to take five to seven weeks, and she or he’d need to deliver the paperwork to a passport office herself.
But the entire local passport offices require an appointment and were booked solid for months. The closest passport office that took walk-in appointments was two hours away, in Lampasas, Texas, and she or he made the drive there twice to get her family’s documents processed and sent off to the State Department.
A month later, she realized she won’t get the documents in time. So Ms. Knight began calling the National Passport Center’s appointment line every morning, where hold times can stretch past the 15-minute mark, in hopes of securing a same-day appointment at a U.S. Passport Agency. For per week, she called, waited on hold, and every time was told the one available appointments in the whole country were in Hawaii.
“We’ve got a government passport agency in Houston, which could be a two-hour drive for me. We’ve got one in Dallas, which could be a five-hour drive, and I could do this, too,” she said. “But there’s nothing available. I’m feeling pretty powerless over all of it. We’re doing every little thing we were told to do, and it’s taken since early May.”
Ms. Knight finally secured an appointment in El Paso, which is 11 hours away by automotive. She pushed her family’s trip back 4 days to accommodate the appointment and, opting to not drive such an extended distance with a baby, spent $800 on a hotel and $1,600 on airfare for herself, her husband and her two children to make it to the appointment before her departure to Spain. In early July, with just days to spare, the family’s passports arrived by mail and so they ended up not requiring the same-day appointment in any case. (They received credit for the canceled flight, and a refund on the hotel room.)