Will you be able to Board? Tips for your International Travel Pre-Flight Check-List

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Despite the abundance of technology and customer service constantly promoted by various airlines, it seems that traveling via air never seems to get any easier. The last year has been rife with reports of passengers being forced off of flights, dress codes being placed upon unsuspecting passengers, as well as bans on laptops, portable electronic devices, and even the exploding Samsung Galaxy Note7. Even where airlines work hard to create better customer experiences—often by providing freebies or courteous service–, it goes without saying that airline passengers still need to stay aware of the volatile environment surrounding airlines and traveling. This week’s tip is an important one, one that could be what stands between you and your next international trip!

Take, for example, passport acceptance criteria in different countries. Not every country maintains the same standards for when a passport remains valid. Some passengers, such as mother Michelle Novelle and her five sons, find themselves barred at the gate when their passports were discovered to expire in less than three-to-six months. This resulted in an expensive battle to apply for passport renewals and rebooking for a simple week-long trip.

A growing trend in international travel is requiring that passports have an expiration date that lasts a certain amount of time from either the day of departure or one day after arrival. This means that your passport may not be as valid as you think. Most European countries require passports last an additional three or six months, while some Asian and South American countries are slightly stricter with year-long stipulations. Of course, not every passenger is aware of this rule or its many variations.

This sparks a new question—who is responsible for knowing who can and can’t travel? Passengers argue that airlines ought to give a warning concerning different countries’ policies when passengers book international flights. There is very little information concerning different countries’ policies out there, and what little there is often proves difficult to find. Still, passengers whose trips were slashed maintain their position—at the very least, airlines and booking sites ought to remind passengers to check with the corresponding embassy of their destination countries upon booking a flight.

On the other hand, there are no regulations stipulating airline responsibility to do this. In fact, most major airlines consider matters such as this to be the sole responsibility of passengers. Booking sites, such as Orbitz, do provide a link in their confirmation emails that reminds their travelers that they are required to show proof of citizenship. This same link brings travelers to a visa and passport policy website where after some searching, a brief blurb concerning the passport expiration date can be found.

At the end of day, it’s probably best practice for you to take matters into your own hands when traveling. While the information for different countries may be hard to find, it is clearly worth a bit of digging to avoid missing your trip altogether. Or, better yet, make sure that your passport’s expiration date is set a year after your scheduled departure date.

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