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Damaged US Passport Chip Strands Travelers 624

Posted by Soulskill
from the kids-break-the-darnedest-things dept.
caseih writes "Damaging the embedded chip in your passport is now grounds for denying you the ability to travel in at least one airport in the U.S. Though the airport can slide the passport through the little number reader as easily as they can wave it in front of an RFID reader, they chose to deny a young child access to the flight, in essence denying the whole family. The child had accidentally sat on his passport, creasing the cover, and the passport appeared worn. The claim has been made that breaking the chip in the passport shows that you disrespect the privilege of owning a passport, and that the airport was justified in denying this child from using the passport."
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Damaged US Passport Chip Strands Travelers

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:15PM (#39115289)

    I was traveling alone, but I've gotten similar crap from a AA rep with a bur up his butt or something. This was pre-chip passport, but my well traveled 9 1/2 year old passport was slightly bowed from being placed in my pocket. He said basically the same thing as the article, that it shows a disrespect for the document and that I should keep it in a necklace type holder or somewhere else other than my back pocket. This same passport was never questioned by a government official in any country I traveled too. I waited for the douche to go on break and then proceeded to check in without incident by another agent. He would probably be one to charge folks an excessive baggage fee if one of their bags was 1 oz over regulation as well.

  • by n5vb (587569) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:23PM (#39115413)

    The problem is that airline officials or anyone else in charge of letting you get on a plane is apparently *allowed* to make a judgment call like this at any airport along your route. If I'm going to be stopped for some stupid random thing like this (and it is a stupid random thing), I'm going to be a lot less pissed off if it means I can't get on the flight at my home airport, and have a way home, than if it means I've gotten halfway across the country 500-1000 miles from home and then all of a sudden can't fly anywhere and I have no surface transportation home or shipping for my checked baggage. One reason I don't fly when i can avoid it is unpredictability of what will be flagged in security at any given airport, plus the ease with which it's possible for a social outlier like me to become a "suspicious person" and subject to all of the treatment that triggers.

    Now, that may be hard to avoid for international flights where the airport of departure from the country isn't my home airport, but if an airline official is going to pull a dickish move like this, the least he/she can do is refund my international ticket and comp me a *domestic* flight back home, plus waivers on any extra fees to route my checked baggage home as well. Not sure if they were offered that as well as the option to stay in a hotel while the passport snafu is straightened out, but I do wonder ..

  • by ncttrnl (773936) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:25PM (#39115445)
    Even without the RFID, I've watched them deny kids onto flights because their passport wasn't signed. It was interesting to watch the mother explain that her kids could barely write their name let alone be expected to have a signature that would ever be useful for identification. They finally made her hold her kids' hands so that each of them could sign their names. The whole system is flawed and RFID is just another expensive layer on top of it. I would have hoped RFID was implemented more like magnetic strips on credit cards. When they work, it speeds things up. When they don't, every business has an imprint machine or a place to type in your credit card number in their computer so they can still take your money. I guess there is more incentive in the case of credit cards to actually get it right for the consumer though.
  • by GodInHell (258915) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:28PM (#39115499) Homepage

    Which one would you pick for storing sensitive information which, if made inaccessible, has the potential to prevent you from ever seeing your loved ones, your home, or any of your possessions again?

    Neither?

    Even if you intentionally light your passport on fire and fling it into the U.S. Embassy, you still have the right to return if you're a U.S. Citizen. (admittedly, probably after at least a few days in jail for lighting something on fire and flinging it into an occupied building.) I went to the Chzech republic once with some other students from the U.S., while we were there one of my friends made with the stupid and agreed to leave her passport with her hotel as a security deposit (do NOT do this). Naturally when she tried to retrieve it her passport was gone (stolen, they are valuable).

    Was she "prevented from ever seeing [her] loved ones, [her] home, or any of [her] possessions again?" Of course not, she went to the U.S. Embassy. They harangued her for being stupid and issued her a temporary passport to get back to Italy with. Once we were back in Italy the U.S. Embassy in Rome issued her a new permanent passport. Getting her Italian Visa replaced was harder.

    When you travel outside the U.S., you need to accept that you may not be able to keep to your schedule, plan for it. Book all your flights with a single airline (so that when Airline A screws up and you miss a connecting flight its their problem, not yours). Leave some vacation time (a day or two) on the return side of your trip. Don't try to sneak pot back out of Amsterdam (no, seriously, wtf are you thinking?). You have to take precautions.

    But what you describe, has no connection to reality.

  • by E_Ron.Eous (2521544) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:39PM (#39115711)
    The word entitled is used because travel is a right and has been recognized as a right as long as rights have been recognized. The right to travel is one of those rights covered under the 9th amendment.
  • by Leebert (1694) * on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:46PM (#39115821)

    Don't blame me - I voted the best that I knew how to try to correct egregious wrongs - blame the politicians.

    I'm sorry, but if you were foolish enough in 2008 to see him as anything but what he is -- yet another (Chicago, even!) politician, you're kinda gullible (or, at least, insufficiently cynical.) (Don't worry, I fell for Bush 2000 myself, so I'm right there with you in the gullible camp.)

    How am I supposed to vote?!?!?

    Well, you could start by figuring out how to vote in the Republican primaries and voting for Paul. If Paul isn't palatable for you, there are plenty of other parties and candidates; chances are very good that you can find someone that you pretty well agree with out there somewhere.

    To the sibling poster who claims that you "need to vote for him the next time, too", that's patently ridiculous. There are plenty of candidates for president who actually make a *credible* claim that they'll fight to restore our constitutionally-enshrined rights. Yes, they aren't likely to win, but I swear I'll go all medieval on you if you claim that I am throwing away my vote by voting for someone who believes as I do instead of voting for someone who I disagree slightly less with but is more likely to win.

  • by Leebert (1694) * on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:52PM (#39115939)

    American Airlines used to be my favorite airline

    Why, oh WHY on earth? Maybe it's because my experience with American is largely limited to flying into Haiti and coast-to-coast, but it's invariably a horrendous experience. Especially when compared to carriers like Southwest, who actually "gets" customer service.

    In fact, I flew American back in January, and my Facebook status briefly said: "I am not in any way surprised that American Airlines is in bankruptcy."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:56PM (#39116003)

    the legality of contraception stopped being a topic of political debate in the late sixties. What the hell is going on?

    The federal government requiring Catholics to pay for other people's contraception.
    Guns are legal, too. But if the feds make me pay for yours, I'll raise hell.

  • by Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:56PM (#39116009)

    The claim has been made that breaking the chip in the passport shows that you disrespect the privilege of owning a passport, and that the airport was justified in denying this child from using the passport.

    The last time I left the US I spent four weeks hiking around in the Dolomites and nearby. Everything I had was in my backpack, I stayed at night in mountain rifugios and hiked around most of every day. I had my passport on my person somewhere at every moment, because what else was I going to do with it? I fell a couple of times, nothing serious, but I did get a few scrapes and bruises, and I'll admit that I was a bit free in tossing my pack (which contained my passport) around.

    Now, if the RFID chip can be broken by a child sitting on it, there is an approximately 0% chance that mine would have survived that trip had I had the misfortune of having one in my passport. There would have been no way to avoid it, other than putting the passport in a box filled with bubble wrap and packing peanuts or something else equally absurd. Had I been staying in a hotel and wandering around a town I would have (as per Italian law) left it with the hotel. But this wasn't that sort of trip. There was no way, sort of building some sort of portable armored and padded shrine, that I would have been able to "respect" the passport enough to avoid wrecking the RFID chip, if it really is so easy to break.

    If the chip is that much less resilient than the paper that the passports are printed on, they need to come up with something better.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:01PM (#39116077) Homepage

    And he's basically an idiot. My passport got pretty well trashed after a camping / climbing trip in South America. When I got back the customs guy said 'looked like you had fun'. The RFID didn't work (or the reader, it wasn't clear), so he looked at the passport briefly and let me through.

    I've had more trouble getting on the plane in Seattle.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:06PM (#39116163) Homepage

    If you're a US citizen, and go to a US-Canada border crossing, it's a Canadian official, not a US official, that checks your passport. The passport is to help you get permission from the Canadians to enter their country, not to get permission from the US to leave. The reason airlines check passports before boarding international flights is to prevent a situation where somebody flies from the US to, say, France, and then is denied entry to France and has to either turn around and go back or create a bunch of work for the nearest US consulate. It actually makes some sense.

    Of course, where this gets tricky is if the Canadians and Mexicans sign agreements with the US that say they won't let any US citizens over the border without a passport.

  • by residieu (577863) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:12PM (#39116237)

    It's important because this should make you reconsider flying on American Airlines.They were the ones who disrupted the family's trip in this case (Luckily they were on their way OUT of the country. I'd hate to see the same thing happen to someone trying to come back in).

    But the American Airlines official was reacting to the general fears that the TSA and the Federal Government have been instilling in us the past 10 years, so I wouldn't call them without blame

  • by lew2048 (2571805) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:18PM (#39116357)
    Politicians are rational : they don't adopt policies to entice voters unless there are such voters to be enticed. Socialists/Progressives have managed almost all signfiicant institutions in US and European societies for 50+ years. This despite the fact that the socialist parties in the US in the 1920s never got more than 5% of the national vote and never had more than 20 people in Congress. It was a consistent 5% of the vote, and so the other 2 parties adopted policies designed to capture that margin of victory. The consequence was a rapid shift of all politicians into the socialist end of the spectrum. If Libertarians have a consistent 5% of the vote, something that is beginning to be true, we will see an equally rapid shift of both parties to the Lib end of the spectrum.
  • by mutube (981006) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:22PM (#39116413) Homepage

    I put mine through a washing machine and all the pages ended up melded together. I separated what I could (including the important back page) with a knife and then ironed it flat. (Interestingly it had washed out all the visa stamps so it looked like new).

    Got from one side of Europe to the other on that passport without a problem. Worst I got was a smirk.

  • Weathered and Worn? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @05:49PM (#39116741)

    My current passport does not have a chip in it and is good for another year. It is also pretty damn beat up. It has stickers on the outside that French immigration has put on it. It has been bent and tweaked by a variety of national border control types, and no one has ever applied a visa stamp gently. It has also spent a lot of time in my pocket, because nothing says "Tourist here please rob me" like one of those dorky things hanging around your neck. As a result of being in my pocket, it has gotten sat on, sweated on, bent, etc. In short, it looks like the passport of someone who travels a lot, which I guess they don't see a lot at American Airlines in Dallas. I respect my passport enough that I don't leave it in hotel safes, don't hang it around my neck to get snatched, and generally try to keep it from getting stolen, which has resulted in it looking weathered and worn. The airline employee in Dallas is a tool.

    And get off my lawn.

  • by TechHSV (864317) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @06:15PM (#39117043)
    How did this get labeled Insightful? The Federal Government is requiring many Catholic organizations to provide contraception in the policies they provide their employees. Because these organizations pay at least partially for these policies, they are being required to pay for contraception. The slimy move to say it doesn't have to be in the policy, but has to be provided for free it just bull and every one knows it.

Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders. -- Gauss

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