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They Won't Let Me Leave!

When should you carry your passport? ALWAYS when flying, even domestic! While that might seem excessive, unless you’re in a beautiful place like Switzerland and don’t care about getting home, multiple forms of updated photo identification are a good idea. Here’s a few stories that might convince you.

Once while on a layover at O’Hara airport in Chicago I lost my favorite ring from Greece and my driver’s license, in two separate events. Guess you could say I was having a day of distractions. I don’t remember where I was traveling, but for me to be that absentminded it probably had to do with love or food. Thing is, for some reason I had to change my flight and that required showing an ID. After digging around for my license and realizing I'd lost it somewhere in the airport, what saved the day? Having my passport!

Now obviously if you’re flying internationally, you’ll have your passport with you, but don’t forget your driver’s license or another form of updated photo ID. On our way by train from Thailand to Singapore, we were enjoying the fields of palm oil trees eating our favorite new snack. At the border into Malaysia we had to disembark and go through immigration before re-boarding the train. My friend, Chelle, breezed her way through the checkpoint, but when I stood before the officer, she kept looking at my passport picture and studying my face. I smiled a few times then started to worry. Since my passport was 8 years old, my hair was much shorter, a different color, and I was ten pounds lighter so I guess I didn't look the same. She demanded to see another form of photo ID. Okay, no problem, I thought, I’ll just wipe out my license, except, whoops I hadn't brought it with me, crap! How that happened, I have no idea! Panic set in as I looked at Chelle. The officer was getting irritated with me as I scrounged through my bag for any other type of ID. What saved the day? My recent Kuwaiti health insurance card that had my pic on it.

But wait! One time when flying back to Kuwait from a Swiss ski holiday, I had my passport AND my license, so I thought I was all set. As the gate agent checked me in she asked why I was going to Kuwait. When I told her I was returning to work, she asked for proof of a work contract in Kuwait. What?!! Oh, right, like I thought to put a copy of my work contract in my suitcase or have it digitally accessible. Are you kidding me? I realized she wasn’t kidding because she called over her supervisor.

Evidently, the Kuwaiti government required some airlines, Swiss Air included, to check that kind of documentation. The only proof I could come up with - you guessed it - that health insurance card with my pic on it. I was asked to step out of line while the supervisor disappeared with my passport and health insurance card for ten minutes. As I was panicking, I remembered that there were worse places to be stuck than in beautiful Switzerland with a friend in Bern during ski season. Eventually I was cleared to fly, so back to work I went.

So….moral of the story. ALWAYS fly with multiple forms of current photo identification, and make copies! Happy Travels!

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