Summer is in full swing in Louisiana, and if you’re like most people, you’re looking for a way to beat the heat. While snowballs and trips to the neighborhood pool are good temporary solutions, the high temperatures usually bring on thoughts of a retreat to the cool mountain air or a vacation to the refreshing ocean waves. However, before you start packing, double check the date on your passport, as it could be the one thing that stands between you and your vacation.
Before the pandemic, renewing a passport would only take 1-2 weeks, but now, the length of time it takes to renew is hitting an all time high. USA Today states that, “In 2022, the government issued nearly 22 million passports” and are set to break that record again this year (2023). David Gaines, a well known member of the Zachary community, describes his experience with getting a passport at the New Orleans passport office and it isn’t pretty.
Six months prior to this event, his wife, Susan, was attempting to renew her passport for their trip to Alaska and Canada, but was frustratingly unsuccessful due to complications with her photo. Though she had taken it four separate times at multiple accredited locations, it was rejected each time due to claims of it being digitally altered. When trying to make an appointment with the passport office, none were available before their departure date. Thankfully for Gaines, Louisiana’s state senator Bill Cassidy intervened and got Susan an emergency appointment at the New Orleans office.
In New Orleans, the Gaines’ checked in at a nearby hotel and began the harrowing process. David Gaines states that there were “people in line at 6:45 for 8 a.m. appointments”. He also states that “people were flying from all over the United States” because New Orleans was one of the only offices that were open. Although once getting into the appointment he claims the service was “excellent,” he follows with the staggering price of the ordeal. After adding up the cost of the passport, hotel, overnight mailing, and expedited fees, among other things, the price came out to be over $1000–about five times its normal cost.
Even with this price, Gaines states that “we were the lucky ones,” because many are still not able to get their passports after arriving at the New Orleans office. Unironically, he encourages everyone to “warn your friends!” if they are planning on traveling out of the country. If you have plans for a trip in the near future, make sure to start the process early to give yourself the best chance at success.