It is with great sadness that one of my loved ones was unable to make it back home to Canada for Christmas.
Why was he unable to?
Because he was denied boarding.
Why was he denied boarding?
Not because the flight was overbooked.
Not because the flight was cancelled.
Not because he didn’t have a seat.
Not because he was drunk and unruly.
Not because he was on the no-fly list or any other obvious reason.
He was denied because his passport was damaged.
Most of us take good care of our important documents but we are only human and it is so easy to have an accident and damage those documents. Unfortunately most of us don’t even realize what small “damage” to a passport can cause you to be denied boarding a flight and hence the reason I am writing this post. The worst part is, in Canada if you have to replace a damaged passport, you must complete a comprehensive general application and will not be able to simply renew it and this process can take weeks if not longer.
According to the Canadian Passport Office a passport is considered damaged if it:
- impedes the identification of the holder;
- appears to have been altered or falsified; or
- could potentially cause problems or has been denied by an airline or at a point of entry due to perceived damage.
Examples of damage to a passport:
- has been exposed to water or humidity
- has a tear in one or more pages
- contains unauthorized markings
- the information and/or photo have been altered or made less identifiable
- pages have been removed or torn out
- the cover and inside pages have come apart
- has been chewed by a child or pet
- other forms of damage that are not listed here
A few years ago when I was in Grenada, I was almost denied boarding a flight back to Toronto because of my passport photo.
The officer looked at my passport then looked at me and asked, “Where is your beauty mark?”
I told him I didn’t have one to which he replied, “You have a beauty mark in your passport photo. Come with me please.”
Wow! Was I ever sweating!! My heart sank right into my stomach because I had no idea what he was talking about.
I was taken into an interrogation room for a more detailed search of my belongings and asked many questions.
Fortunately they let me have a look at my passport so I could see what they were talking about…
As it turned out when I was entering Grenada, the officer stamping my passport accidentally put pen marks on my passport photo page AND on my face in my photo! Fortunately, the pen mark was in blue, there were multiple other pen marks on the page and I had several other pieces of photo ID so they let me pass.
I was sure to renew my passport well in advance of my next trip because I didn’t want to risk getting stuck anywhere again over something so silly.
There are a multitude of reasons that a traveller may be refused boarding or entry/exit into a country but don’t be one of those people. Be sure to add “check the condition of your passport “ to your pre-travel checklist and do this well in advance of travelling. If you are unsure about the condition of your passport, visit a local passport office or contact your airline.
Safe travels my friends. I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season without hiccups such as these.