Pacifica woman learns that damaged passports can upend travel plans

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A Pacifica family had their passports, bags and airline tickets for a trip to Mexico, but never got there, all because of a damaged passport. (KGO-TV )

Flying to another country requires a lot of preparation. A Pacifica family had their passports, bags and airline tickets for a trip to Mexico, but never got there.

They passed through security, got their boarding passes and were set to fly for their first international trip together, but the agent at the gate wouldn't let them on the plane.

Jordan Steele was all excited about going to her friend's wedding on the Mexican Riviera.

"In Puerto Vallarta, at the Riu Palace, which is a beautiful hotel," Steele said. Friends and family were flying in for the big event at a posh resort by the sea. "We had our boarding passes, and we had checked in online,"

Jordan, her husband and 5-year-old daughter were all set to board the plane -- when suddenly everything stopped.

"The agent scans our passports and then he said, 'Sorry you can't fly,'" Steele said. The Virgin America agent wouldn't let Jordan get on the plane. "'Because you have damage on the corner of your passport,' which was news to me because I have flown internal before with the same passport," she said.

The agent said her passport was no good, because of this worn area. Her family could go, but Steele had to stay behind.

"I was really emotional, I was crying," she said. Her husband and daughter didn't want to go alone. The family stayed home. She looks wistfully at photos of everyone else at the wedding held on a sandy beach in the sun.

"We went home to foggy Pacifica, instead of sunny Puerto Vallarta," Steele said,

Virgin America said U.S. airlines are required by law to validate passports for international flights. The damage to Steele's was significant and Mexican authorities might have rejected it and Virgin might have to fly her back. U.S. Customs may penalize an airline if a passenger tries to re-enter the United States using an unacceptable passport.

Steele just wants to warn everyone that even minor damage, could do major damage.

"She had a gorgeous wedding and I really missed out," she said.

The one saving grace Steele said was that she was able to get refunds for her flights and vacation expenses. But there's no way to re-live that wedding.

Click here for more information on what damage can disqualify a passport for travel.

Related Topics:
travel7 On Your Sideconsumerair travelpassportPacifica
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