For those just realizing they need to get or renew a passport for upcoming summer travel, you may need to rethink your trip. “It’s not impossible, but it’s not realistic,” says Peter Vlitas, senior vice president of airline relations at travel services company Internova Travel Group. Here’s the issue: Instead of the standard wait time of 6 to 8 weeks to get a passport, the time is now closer to 12 to 18 weeks, the State Department has said, thanks to a backlog of 1.5 million to 2 million passport requests caused by pandemic delays. Worse yet, on Wednesday evening, the State Department shut down its online appointment system after scammers were found exploiting emergency assistance bookings. Unfortunately, travelers can’t beg at the doors of a passport office or try to throw money at the problem. The pandemic has changed the way the system works, eliminating the loopholes that once allowed for passport Hail Marys.
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