Passport Card Confusion Causes Couple to Cancel Travel Plans - NBC Chicago
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Passport Card Confusion Causes Couple to Cancel Travel Plans

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    A North Texas couple says their 49th wedding anniversary was nearly ruined and their passport card is to blame. (Published Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017)

    Love never felt so good for Susan and Jim Pugh.

    The North Texas couple has been married for 49 years. They decided to spend the big 4-9 in Mexico, booking an all-inclusive stay at a resort in Cabo San Lucas.

    "I told my husband, you realize our passports expires in June?" said Pugh.

    With the trip planned for July, they made it to the post office and started filling out paperwork for the passport. That's when they say an employee wanted to know more about where they were going.

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    "We said Mexico, Cabo. He said, 'well, the fastest thing to do is a passport card.' I thought, what's a passport card?" recalled Pugh.

    They'd never heard of a passport card before, but were told it was a faster delivery turnaround and was a lot cheaper. So, the couple figured it was something new to try. 

    "When they came I was so excited that they got here in time. I just looked at the front to make sure all the information was right. I threw them in the travel folder. Never looked at them again," said Pugh.

    But when they made it to the airport:

    "We were having trouble printing our check in. It wouldn't take it," recalled Pugh. "The gal came over and she said, what's the problem?' I said, it won't let us, it says see ticket agent. So she said, 'let me see your passports.' So I hand her the card and she said, 'oh my God.'"

    The couple said the flight attendant told them they turn away roughly 100 people a week with these cards, travelers who thought their passport card would suffice.

    "I said, we can't fly? We can go in by car, or walk but we can't fly?" recalled Pugh. "She said, 'yeah, you can't fly. I'm sorry.'"

    According to the U.S. Passport and International Travel website, passport cards are only good for entering the United States at land border crossings and sea ports-of-entry from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The passport card cannot be used for international air travel.

    This information can also be found on the back of the passport card.

    "I'm a grown lady, but I wanted to cry but I didn't. I was just what are we going to do you know? Then basically kind of just moped and wanted to cry all the way home," said Pugh.

    They booked a separate trip days later, in the States, to celebrate their anniversary.

    But those dreams of Mexico – they’re an airplane ride away.

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    "Ninety percent of this falls on me not checking everything out myself, listening to somebody else, not reading, just looking at the front of my passport card," said Pugh. "I won't stop traveling. I'll just be more careful in the future."

    Here are Samantha Chatman's Solutions:

    • Remember passport cards do not apply for air travel. They will not work at the airport for international flights.
    • Make sure your passport hasn’t expired. The expiration date should be printed on the second page of the book.
    • Some countries won’t allow you to fly if your passport expires within 6 months of entering. So if you’re planning to travel soon make sure to double check.