Bruce Ajari: a travel nightmare |

Bruce Ajari: a travel nightmare

Hereand#8217;s a story that will certainly get your attention when it comes to international travel. It involves the U.S. passport card that one can buy for a first time cost of $45 for adults and $35 for minors under the age of 16. They are good for the same period and#8212; 10 years for adults and five years for minors.

The advantage of having a passport card is that it is wallet size and therefore much more convenient to carry. The passport card is valid when entering the United States from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. It is not valid for international travel by air.

Only the U.S. passport book is valid for international travel by air, land and sea. One party attending a conference in Mexico recently found this out the hard way.

He presumed that the card was valid for air travel and left his passport book at home. When he got to the airport in Sacramento from his home near Redding he was turned away by the airline staff. As a result he had to drive back to Redding and get his passport.

He missed the shortly after noon flight and did not get a flight out until after 9 p.m. Unfortunately, he could not get any direct flights into San Jose at that time so he went ahead and began a night and following day of connecting flights. He arrived nearly 23 hours later and had missed a good part of the conference.

While the card is an official-looking document, why is it not valid for air travel between Canada and Mexico? According to the state department, the passport card is designed for the specific needs of border resident communities and is not a globally interoperable travel document as is the traditional passport book. The passport book is the appropriate travel document for most international travel.

The one thing that I did notice is that nowhere on the passport card is the actual passport number that is on the U.S. passport book.

If you are traveling by air to either Canada or Mexico, do not leave home without your U.S. passport book or you will not be permitted to board your flight. An ordeal such as the one above can be avoided by just carrying your actual passport book. While it may not be as convenient due to the size and#8212; 5 inches by 3.5 inches when opened and#8212; it is the only one that the airlines will recognize.

and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee fisherman who writes columns for the Sierra Sun and other area publications.

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