Mom sends fruit basket to State Dept. hoping to get delayed passport in time for trip

ByRenee Koury KGO logo
Saturday, June 17, 2023
Mom sends fruit basket to State Dept. hoping to get delayed passport
Grace had applied to renew her passport months ago, but as the departure for her European dance troupe tour drew close, she still didn't have it.

DANVILLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Millions of Americans are traveling overseas this summer -- and the State Department is swamped with passport applications. It can now take more than three months to get your passport.

The delays put a Bay Area mom and her daughter in a harrowing predicament this week. For them, the trip is more than a vacation: the daughter is performing with her East Bay dance troupe in Europe. The daughter still didn't have her passport, and their flight was only a few days away

"It was one of the most stressful things I've ever done in my life," said Kristin Michiels of Danville.

Michiels and her daughter Grace had only days left before their flight to Europe.

"I mean, you're completely in the dark as to what's happening with your life," Michiels said.

Grace had applied to renew her passport months ago, but as the departure drew close, she still didn't have it.

MORE: Passport applications are taking longer to process with record year for new applicants

"They could tell me nothing," Michiels said of the State Department. "The status stayed the same for two months... 'We're now reviewing your documents.'"

But time was ticking away. Without a passport, they couldn't go -- and Grace was scheduled to perform with her dance club in three countries on a European tour.

"My teammates, they were like, 'Oh I'm praying for you.' They were like, 'You gotta get there... there'll be spots missing in the dance,'" Grace said.

While in Europe, Grace and her mom also planned to attend her uncle's swearing-in ceremony as an army commander in Italy -- they had to be there.

So Michiels kept calling the passport office. Would she get the passport in time?

"I was trying to ask the ladies on the phone, 'Do I have a 1% chance, do I have a 50% chance?" Michiels said.

VIDEO: Panic is growing over passport delays. What you should know before traveling

Looking for a passport? The Department of State's website says processing time is eight to eleven weeks with routine service and five to seven weeks for expedited.

They told her to make an appointment at a passport office to get the passport issued on the spot.

The only problem? The appointments are all booked.

"I did that and there are no appointments available anywhere in the United States. I mean it's crazy," she said.

Michiels started asking government officials for help. She tried Governor Gavin Newsom, Senator Diane Feinstein, Congressmember Mark Desaulnier, even Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

When that didn't help -- Michiels got creative.

"On Tuesday I came up with the idea of sending a fruit basket," she said.

MORE: Applying for a US passport is now more expensive

Yes, she sent a fruit basket to the Arizona passport office that was handling Grace's application.

"I was like, 'Oh I'll send them something good, that will get their attention and make them feel loved," she said.

She never heard back.

"My family was like, 'Mom, call 7 On Your Side,'" she said.

7 On Your Side contacted the passport office asking to expedite that passport, and right away, the agency delivered.

"My husband walked in and said it's here! I was like, 'Waaaahh!' I was so relieved," she said.

The passport arrived the next morning -- down to the wire, but they're off to Europe.

The real message here is to leave plenty of time to get or renew a passport. The agency tells 7 On Your Side it now takes up to 13 weeks for routine processing, and up to nine weeks for expedited processing. That costs an extra $60 -- and those times do not include mailing time.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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