Canceled trips and no refunds: Passport delays are derailing travelers

Passport application delays in the United States are causing complications for travelers, with many missing pre-booked trips and failing to receive refunds.

Situation overview: Long-awaited vacations and family reunions are being disrupted due to an “unprecedented demand for passports,” as stated by the State Department.
* Many travelers are experiencing waiting times exceeding the 13 weeks standard processing time outlined in March for new or renewed passports.
* The demand for international travel has spiked as the health crisis recedes, resulting in a surge in passport applications.

Problem specifics: Several individuals have encountered significant losses due to the delay.
* Dakotah Hendricks from Virginia couldn’t visit her deployed husband overseas, even after applying and paying for expedited processing four months in advance.
* Keisha Peterson from Maryland was unable to take her daughter on her first trip abroad to the Bahamas after saving $3,000 for the vacation, due to her daughter’s passport not arriving in time.

Scale of the demand: Currently, the State Department is handling approximately 400,000 applications each week, only slightly below the record-setting 500,000 weekly applications received between January and May.
* A total of 22 million passports were issued in 2021, and expectations are that this high figure will be exceeded this year.

Possible solutions: The State Department is taking steps to address the issue.
* They are hiring additional staff, authorizing overtimes, and intending to launch a website for online passport renewal applications by the end of the year.

Effects of the delay: The situation is causing considerable financial losses and emotional distress for many travelers.
* Travelers, like Hendricks, face substantial losses. If her passport does not arrive in time for her rescheduled flight in mid-July, she stands to lose about $2,500.
* Emotional distress is also significant, with individuals like Peterson expressing feelings of disappointment, frustration, and emotional exhaustion due to the delays.

View original article on NPR

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