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Our puppy chewed on a passport — reader mistake story

March 9 2020
4 min read
Our puppy chewed on a passport — reader mistake story
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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Heidi, whose husband was unable to board an international flight:

Our puppy slightly chewed the corners by the fold of my husband’s passport. No information was affected, and the passport could still be swiped. When we got to the airport in Philadelphia for our flight to Jamaica, the skycap said he had to check our bags at the desk since the passport was damaged. American Airlines checked the bags for our flight, no problem. Before boarding the flight, we had to present our passports at the gate. That's when the gate agent pointed out the damage, and told my husband he couldn’t board and needed a new passport.

I got on the plane to stay with our bags. The gate agent gave my husband a form to apply for an emergency passport. He had to go back to the passport office downtown, go across the street for pictures, get his new passport, and head back to airport. He got on a standby flight to Miami, where he connected to Montego Bay, and arrived at 9:30 p.m. instead of 12:30 p.m. The good news was that American Airlines didn’t charge him anything! Moral of the story, keep your passport away from the pup, and don't try to travel on a passport that's damaged, even only slightly!

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Heidi is right that you should avoid traveling with a damaged passport, but not all damage is treated similarly. The U.S. State Department differentiates between significant damage like tears, missing pages or water damage, and normal wear like pages that fan out over time or a booklet that bends slightly from being carried in a back pocket. Don't assume a damaged passport (or other travel document) will still be accepted; even if it passes muster with U.S. authorities, it may be rejected elsewhere. To keep your passport in good shape, I recommend using a dedicated passport holder or a travel wallet with a passport sleeve, and store it out of reach of curious pets.

Aside from a dog chewing on your passport, plenty of other passport and visa mishaps can derail your travel plans. Common mistakes include not having enough blank pages, neglecting to ensure your passport remains valid for six months after you travel, and using a mismatched passport and travel visa. Heidi and her husband were fortunate to continue their trip mostly unscathed; an invalid passport can just as easily result in you being denied boarding with no recourse, so don't count on having a similar experience. Your passport is the keystone of your international travel plans, so don't wait until the last minute to make sure it's ready to go.

Related: 6 passport mistakes that could leave you stranded at the border

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Heidi a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I'd like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put "Reader Mistake Story" in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can't respond to each story individually, but we'll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Getty Images

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
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Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

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  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
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  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees