A Passport Crisis is Coming: What Agents Need to Know

by Doug Gollan

The passport “crisis” of 2007 is about to return in 2016, according to a senior government official, speaking at the recent ASTA Global Convention in Washington D.C.

Nearly a decade ago, new requirements mandating Americans to have passports for travel to Mexico and Canada led to a surge in applications and a backlog in processing the documents.

With many of those documents set to expire over the next 24 months, coupled with an increase in Americans traveling abroad (today 125 million U.S. citizens have passports), Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary of Passport Services at the U.S. State Department, said, “If I haven’t scared you to death, I haven’t accomplished my mission.”

Sprague spoke during the ASTA’s first Global Travel Exchange, an event aimed at connecting international ASTA members with U.S. members.

She warned travel advisors to make sure the first thing they ask clients about the status of their current passports.

Renew—or apply—ASAP
Agents should advise clients to take care of passport renewals as soon as possible or, for those seeking a passport for the first time, to apply for one right away, Sprague said.

In addition to saving expedited processing fees, getting clients ahead of the curve will ensure they are not disappointed by not receiving their passports in time for their trips, she added.

Sprague also noted that it’s not true that there’s a specific waiting period before a passport expires before people can seek a renewal.

Another issue is that next January citizens who run out of visa pages will have to obtain a new passport instead of having additional pages inserted. Two options will be available: either 28 or 52 pages with no difference in cost.

Sprague noted that more than 90% of passports that are returned have less than two pages used.

Many countries require passports be valid for six months on arrival, so agents should check on this. Agents should also be aware that passports for children under 16 are valid only for five years.

Passport season
In the past “passport [application and renewal] season” began in mid-January, peaked in March and then ran steadily through August before trailing off, said Sprague.

Since last year, the trend has been for it to continue rising throughout the year. “This summer, it never slowed down,” Sprague noted.

While passports aren’t required for cruises that begin and end in U.S. ports, Sprague said agents should encourage clients to obtain passports anyway, noting that people may get sick or injured when visiting ports and have to fly back.

And when clients lose their passports, agents should have them check thoroughly before reporting it because once the passport is reported missing, it can’t be reinstated even if it’s found, Sprague said.

  63
  11
Tip of the Day

Anytime I could figure out how to market for free, I did it. Local media is always looking for content.


Elliot Finkelman

Daily Top List

Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Alabama

1. Battles Wharf

2. Botanical Gardens, Huntsville

3. Cheaha State Park

4. Chewacla Falls

5. Downtown Mobile

Source: The Crazy Tourist

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=b75eceda-865f-e911-b4aa-782bcb66a2f2

5 Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Travel Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs, also known as frequent buyer programs, have been around for a long time. But you might be surprised to know that many travelers don’t know about them. Here are five good reasons for travel advisors to spread the word to their customers, both leisure and corporate travelers.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Southwest, American Airlines Extend Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations into August
Southwest, American Airlines Extend Boeing 737 MAX Cancellations into August

Air carriers are adjusting schedules for the aircraft to give travelers adequate planning time ahead of a busy summer travel season.

Boeing 737 MAX Update: Flight Cancellations Continue for American Airlines, Southwest
Boeing 737 MAX Update: Flight Cancellations Continue for American Airlines, Southwest

Without a clear timeline for the grounded aircraft to go back into service, airlines and customers are dealing with the impact.

Boeing 737 MAX Update: CEO Says Software Update and Pilot Training Coming
Boeing 737 MAX Update: CEO Says Software Update and Pilot Training Coming

Air Canada, American, United, and more are all still dealing with the fallout from the groundings of the jets.

After Delays and Cancellations, Eurostar Tells Passengers ‘Not to Travel’
After Delays and Cancellations, Eurostar Tells Passengers ‘Not to Travel’

Industrial action by French customs officers over higher pay and better working conditions is causing havoc on the Paris to London Eurostar train line.

Boeing 737 MAX Update: American Airlines Reimbursing Hotel Fees, Others Waiving Change Fees
Boeing 737 MAX Update: American Airlines Reimbursing Hotel Fees, Others Waiving Change Fees

Southwest, United, and Air Canada have also responded to the mandatory grounding.

U.S. Joins Rest of World in Grounding All Boeing 737 MAX Jets
U.S. Joins Rest of World in Grounding All Boeing 737 MAX Jets

The U.S. joined Canada, China, India, and all of Europe in grounding the aircrafts, three days after the second crash involving the Boeing aircraft in less than five months.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tropics and Exotics 2020 -2021 Collection