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A Bride Says She's Outraged After She Missed Part Of Her Honeymoon Over A "Damaged" Passport

Carly Baker and her new husband say they want to warn others after they spent $2,000 trying to salvage their dream trip.

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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.

Carly Baker

They had planned to travel to Greece, Rome, and other cities on the trip.

"[We saved] spare change and small bills we collected in a big Poland Springs water jug," Baker said.

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.

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

According to the department, significant damage to a passport includes "water damage, a significant tear, unofficial markings on the data page, missing visa pages [torn out], a hole punch, or other injuries."

However, the government does allow for "normal wear and tear" on the passport, which it says is "to be expected."

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.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Spokesperson Leslie Scott said that she has seen photos of Baker's passport, and it looked like it had pages peeling off and that it had "water damage." Additionally, she said it appeared the damage has been done to the "bio" page of the passport, which is crucial for travel.

“We can't let people travel with damaged government documents," she said.

She added that she would not want to approve a traveler's passport only to have them be banned from entering a foreign country.

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.

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