What a damaged passport will cost you

Passport failure

Colours washed out of passport photo by heavy rain in the West Matukituki Valley. Despite travelling from NZ to Aus with the passport looking like this, it is apparently not usable. Cue Extremely Focussed K Getting Shit Done And Spending Lots of Money.

On Sunday afternoon I sobbed into my beloved cat’s fur, then hied me to the airport to head off to New Zealand to catch up with family before my holiday week in Los Angeles and then away to Boston (I feel like I should say Boston: City of my Dreams! every time. But I digress.  Already.)

Anyway.  That’s not what happened.  Instead I got to the airport and Air New Zealand said unto me that my passport was too damaged and that I would probably not be allowed into New Zealand and almost definitely would not be allowed into the USA.

Liverpool hut

Photo of Liverpool Hut, taken by me in January 2012 while I tried not to fall to my knees in gratitude for making it without falling off the mountain. Above the treeline in heavy rain and trail-running shoes is a no-no people. Learn from my mistakes.

What was wrong with my passport you ask, dear reader?  Well, it had been caught in a torrential downpour in the West Matuktuki Valley for two days on the way up to Liverpool Hut and back down again.  As a result, the colour has run from the photo on the front page.  This didn’t seem of any concern to anyone as I made my way back to Australia. 

Actually, I can’t remember talking to people (though I probably did. 4am in Christchurch is a pretty vague time. It was dark. And far colder than a mid-summer pre-dawn should be.)

I remember feeding my passport into machines, standing patiently on a designated spot on the floor while staring into a red light and then being judged by black pillars of doom. All of the machines seemed to think I was me and was human and that there wasn’t a problem. And at no point was it even hinted that my passport was in a state of disrepair so extreme that it was unusable.

So I am now in the process of acquiring a new passport.  I cannot have an emergency passport, I can only get priority processing. So it is Monday. I have an interview with the passport people tomorrow morning. It will probably take two working days to get a full new passport with priority processing. I might be able to get on a flight on Thursday evening.

So far, not knowing that a water-damaged passport is a non-ususable passport has cost me:

  • $400 flight to New Zealand
  • $400 replacement passport with priority processing
  • Seeing my remaining grandparent on this trip
  • Seeing the new baby cousins
  • My pride in my organisational abilities

What it will probably also cost me:

  • $1200 flight from Auckland to Los Angeles
  • Spa day in Orange County

What I really, really hope it will not cost me:

  • Afternoon and evening with my OC friend
  • Angels baseball game on Tuesday 2nd July
  • Couple of days of car hire
  • Couple of days of accommodation

Once this is all sorted out, I’ll be seeing what, if anything, my travel insurance will cover.

While this is not a great start to my trip of exciting awesomeness, it is far better that this happen in Perth, where I have easy access to all my documents and a passport office than anywhere else on my proposed route.