Yvonne's Passport Card Fiasco  ~ 09.08.2012


This is a word to the wise as far as one using a Passport Card instead of a passport.  My sister didn’t want to pay to have a passport issued again so she got a Passport Card good for Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.    Little did we know how much trouble and stress we would encounter on our trip to and from Alaska!

The second actual day of our cruise we took the train from Anchorage to Whittier.  We went to the Sapphire Princess and I got Yvonne a wheel chair and a woman pushed her around the huge warehouse where we went through immigration.    A man either with TSA or immigration looked at my sister’s Passport Card and told her if she is flying from Vancouver where the ship docks to anyplace in the U.S. she cannot use the card to go through immigration or customs.    We were rather shocked and Yvonne asked him what to do.   He said the Princess line had busses that went from Vancouver to Seattle, a five hour trip.   There one had to try and change airline reservations.   Yvonne was extremely mad and asked what was going on anyway.

The security personnel said if she had read the Passport Card it stated one could only use the card when traveling on land or sea, you cannot fly from Canada, a foreign country to the U.S.  So we got on the ship and the second day on the cruise we went to the reservation desk and Yvonne asked one young girl what was she to do?  The poor girl said she didn’t know anything about a Passport Card.   Another woman said we should call TSA and gave us the number.  They let us use their phone as a call from the ship was six dollars.   Sis called TSA and they said she needed to call immigration.   She wrote down a number and tried to call but I told her she wrote only three numbers down instead of four numbers.  She was not amused!

So for the next five days we kept wondering the best approach to take.   We decided to go to the Vancouver airport and hope for the best.  If necessary, we would try to catch a bus to Seattle.   On the eight day of the cruise we bused to the airport and got there by ten a.m.   I found a woman at the information desk and she was extremely nice.   She introduced me to a man working for United Airlines.   He and she said the Passport Card did not work to fly out of Canada.   He looked at Yvonne and she was slumped in the chair, cane in hand, huge sun glasses on and a hat looking like death warmed over.   He went to the back rooms and came out, back in, back out, talked to the woman, talked to me and finally brought a wheelchair for sis.    I got her Arizona ID card with her photo on it, a social security card, a voting ID and a Medicare Card plus the Passport Card.   He went to the back again and after almost an hour, come back and said he thinks we can get through but immigration might put us in a room and use the hose on sis!   I told sis if they gave her problems, to flop in the chair, mumble and slid slowly to the floor stating she was in a state of stress.  The Information Desk woman and the United man cracked up and had a good laugh.

So finally I pushed sis to the immigration/TSA line and got to the security guard and he was big and mean and took her card and looked down at her, she was hunched in the wheelchair.   He announced to me the following, “This will never happen again!”   I bowed and said, “Thank you, thank you so much!”

Then he proceeded to show the Passport Card to a woman about 50 who also is in charge of immigration.   She looked at the card, ignored me and said, “Those two!”   As I wheeled Yvonne passed her I said again, “Thank you so much, thank you!”

So we got through the line then onto the plane.   We walked down the ramp and they wanted ID and I flashed my passport, the woman asked about Yvonne and I flashed my passport again.  She said that was not going to work and wanted Yvonne’s passport.  Huh, I thought!   Well sis showed her Passport Card with her photo and by that time we were at the door of the plane so we were let onto the plane. 

We were worn out and then sis announced to me she might call TSA and immigration and complain about their lousy treatment and the confusing Passport Card usage.  I suggested she keep her mouth shut in case we decide to take the Copper Canyon trip in Mexico some time.  She agreed.

So talk about being worn out over a Passport Card.  This is a word to travelers such as my sister, if you get a Passport Card, read the fine print on the bottom of it, ‘Only good for land and sea travel”. 



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Created by Charles W. Buntjer     Published on 2012.09.14
San Francisco     Updated on 2012.09.14