Passport in a Day?

Ever wonder if it is possible to get a passport in a day – without any previous plans?  Well yes, it is… if you are extremely lucky.  Here is one crazy passport story that began with a plan for a trip to Italy way back in January.  The very important part of this story is the reason for the trip:  Shadley and Tom’s wedding, and Omi had to be there for her granddaughter’s important day.

Everything went as planned, trip was booked,  dress was sewn (Omi would not have had it any other way than to maker her own special dress) and suitcase was packed.  Then all plans fell apart when Omi tried to check in at the Pittsburgh airport.  “I am sorry, Ma’am – but we cannot take you”.  Omi thought the fight attendant was kidding, but she was not.  When you travel to Europe, your passport has to be valid for 3 months – from the date of arrival.  Omi’s passport was set to expire September 9 – she could not fly.  The helpful flight attendant told her that the only alternative was to either drive to Washington DC or Philadelphia for the nearest passport office that could actually issue a passport the same day.

It was about 7:30 pm on Wednesday, when Sam and Tina heard the story and decided that no matter what, they were going to try and get Omi to Italy in time.  First thing was to call the airline and make sure that Omi could get on another flight.  We were assured that there were openings for Friday, Saturday or Sunday (the wedding was Monday) and the airline would honor Omi’s original ticket.

The problem was that one needs a pre-scheduled appointment, with an appointment number,  in order to get into the passport office.  Appointments can only be scheduled via the 24/7 automated passport appointment system.  Tina called for DC and Philadelphia and no appointments were available, at either location, for at least a week.  We could not talk to a “real” person until 8 am the next morning, so we decided that Omi should sleep and leave for Carlisle early the next day, so we could try to drive to either DC or Philadelphia.

At 8:00 am the next morning, Tina talked to the passport hotline, and was told that we could not get in without the appointment and they did not see any available.  When we asked what would happen if we take a risk and just show up, we were told that we could try, but they were not sure if it would do anything.  However, they did take the time to tell us about all the info we needed to have, which included proof of the immediate flight in addition to all the normal passport application papers.  Note that were were  NOT  told that just driving to the passport office would be useless.  But we were told to keep trying and calling  the automated appointment system, on the off chance that someone would cancel.

Wouldn’t you know it, that by 9:00 am an appointment opened in Philadelphia for 10:30 am.  This was incredible luck.   We just reserved it,  so that we would have a number to get into the office, knowing full well, that we could never get there until 2 or 3 in the afternoon).  Tina called the airline and got them to email  an itinerary for a flight with today’s date.

Omi left early from Pittsburgh, and met Tina and Sam at the Cumberland Valley Turnpike Plaza to save time. We got off at the Carlisle exit for a new passport photo (this took less than 5 minutes!!), and got back onto the turnpike towards Philadelphia.

We made it about 15 minutes before they closed (you were supposed to get there before 3:00 pm), and luckily Sam was along, because she and Omi ran in while Tina found a place to park.  The lady at the counter was not too happy, since their appointments was 4.5 hours earlier, and they were told that they had 10 minutes to complete the forms – Sam filled it out, while Omi read off all the numbers.  They handed in the form before by 3:00 pm, and we had the new passport before 4:30!!!

Crazy luck that this worked out. On the way back, Sam called the airline and got Omi’s flight confirmed for Friday.  We got off at the Carlisle turnpike exit, where Jeff met us, and Tina and Sam went home, while Omi continued to drive back to Pittsburgh.  She made her flight, and made it to the wedding in plenty of time.  The wedding must have been absolutely beautiful, in a most spectacular setting – and we have a happy end for Shadley and Tom, and for Omi’s travel adventures as well!!