A newlywed bride says she wants to warn other travelers after she was banned from flying to her honeymoon because her passport was deemed "damaged" by an airport employee.
Carly Baker and Chris Fee got married on Friday after dating for four years, Baker told BuzzFeed News. Two years ago, they decided to start saving for their dream honeymoon.
But when they arrived at Philadelphia International Airport for their trip on Sunday, they were stopped by a U.S. Airways representative. The employee told Baker that her passport, seen below, was too damaged to fly with.
"[It was] her opinion that my passport was too damaged to be used, citing strings hanging off the sides and the seams 'splitting,'" Baker said.
Baker said she was shocked that her passport was being questioned, because it had worked fine when she had used it 13 months ago.
After the first employee left, Baker said she was directed to a second employee. That woman, who Baker said she believed was a manager, told the couple the passport seemed fine.
"I referenced the strings," Baker said. "She took my passport to the back room and snipped them off, and said I'd be fine."
However, the manager then learned that her colleague had made a note in Baker's travel file saying she could not fly on that passport.
"She tried getting her boss to override my restriction, but [her] boss clearly did not want to throw the first manager under [the] bus by putting an override on file over her first opinion," Baker said.
The State Department does restrict traveling with passports that have been "significantly damaged," but that determination is made largely on a case-by-case basis.
In this case, a spokesperson for American Airlines, which owns U.S. Airways, told BuzzFeed News that the airline's employees complied with government regulations on damaged passports.
After being denied from flying, Baker applied and paid for a new passport. She has received it, and the couple is planning on leaving for their now-delayed trip on Tuesday night.
However, they missed multiple days of their trip and said they spent approximately $2,000 in rebooking and cancellation fees.
The couple was rebooked on a later flight out of Europe. Scott said the airline waived the change fee and the price difference between their two flights, but wouldn't be giving the couple an upgrade or compensation for the incident.
“We didn’t damage the passport,” she said, though she added the company is “sympathetic” to the couple’s plight.
Scott said that if a traveler has a question about their passport before flying, they should consult an airline or government representative before they travel.
Baker said she wants to tell other travelers that the policies surrounding passports are "extremely subjective and you should err on the side of caution."
"A passport cover is clearly a good investment," she said.
The couple said they will never fly American again, and have been taught a tough lesson about the airline business.
"It was made extremely clear to us that they are in the business of making money, and not making people happy," she said.