Is This Passport Damaged? Newlywed Says Condition of Passport Delayed Her Honeymoon

A Philly newlywed said her dream honeymoon quickly turned into a nightmare after she and her husband were not allowed to get on a U.S. Airways flight because of the condition of her passport.

Carly Baker, who got married to Chris Fee Friday, told BuzzFeed News the couple planned to embark on their honeymoon to Greece, Rome and other cities; a trip they began saving up for two years ago.

Baker and Fee said the trouble began when they arrived at Philadelphia International Airport Sunday and were stopped by a desk clerk at check-in. The clerk claimed Baker's passport was too damaged to use because of strings hanging off the sides and splitting seams.

Carly Baker
Photos of the passport Carly Baker says was deemed to be too damaged to use.

"After (she) informed us that her manager had denied my passport we, of course, asked to speak with her,” Baker wrote in a Facebook post Monday. "Said manager joined us a few minutes later only to loudly instruct the (employee) to immediately pull us from our current flight 2 hours later, as well as to make a formal note in my travel file that my passport had been flagged as damaged and not to be used for any travel. This USAir manager offered us no empathy, no listening ear that I thought was required of someone whose job description includes customer service, or even eye contact before she permanently extinguished any possibility of us getting to our honeymoon."

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I'm supposed to be in Greece, on my honeymoon right now. I'm not. We've saved for 2 years, researched, booked, packed...

Posted by Carly Shannon Baker on Sunday, October 11, 2015

In another post, Baker claimed a different manager determined the passport was usable and tried to get them on the flight.

"I should also mention that another manager of equal status disagreed with the first opinion that my passport was damaged and attempted to get us on the flight, but because the first manager had made permanent notes in my travel record, there was nothing to be done," she wrote.

Baker also claimed she used the same passport in the same condition several times before and had never experienced any problems. 

"This may even seem understandable to those who like a devil’s advocate if I hadn’t used said passport multiple times in exact same condition within the past 18 months," Baker wrote. "Not a single immigration officer, TSA agent, gate, or customs agent has ever even furrowed their brow at my passport, let alone suggested that it may prohibit me from traveling."

Leslie Scott, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, which owns U.S. Airways, sent a statement to NBC10 regarding the passport.

"The customer’s passport was damaged and the State Department does not permit us to allow passengers with damaged documents to travel," Scott wrote. "We explained to the passenger how she could quickly receive a new passport and have offered to waive all fees and re-book the passengers’ flights, extending their trip two days. The danger with allowing a passenger to travel with a damaged passport is that they may not be allowed entrance into the foreign country to which they are traveling and would immediately be put back on a plane to the U.S."

Scott also referred to the State Department’s guidelines on damaged passports. According to the department, passengers with a damaged passport must apply for a new one.

"Conditions that may constitute damage requiring you to replace your passport include water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages (torn out), a hole punch, or other injuries," the department stated.

The department also said "normal wear of a U.S. passport is expected and likely does not constitute damage."

Baker applied and paid for a new passport and the couple left for their delayed honeymoon Tuesday night. Fee told NBC10 they were currently in Greece. Baker said they had to pay about $2,000 in re-booking costs and missed several days of their planned trip.

American Airlines said it didn't charge the couple anything -- waiving all fees -- and that any costs the couple paid came from other sources. Airline spokeswoman Victoria Lupica said that American also extended the couple's return by two days.

"We just want to stress that we understand and in no way disagree with the rules, regulations, and policies of American Airlines and the State Department, but we felt like AA's decision was hastily made based on the disagreement of their own staff, and their customer service since Sunday has been horrendous," Fee told NBC10. "Above all, we want other folks to be prepared when traveling abroad so they can avoid what we had to go through."

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