DENVER — A Denver family was supposed to be in Belize this week enjoying a beach getaway with their loved ones.
Instead, they’re in a hotel room in Dallas, TX because an American Airlines official there claimed they had a mutilated passport.
“We started at Denver International Airport, where we checked in and all our passports were checked very thoroughly,” said Kyle Gosnell.
Gosnell, his wife Dana, and their young son, Kye, received boarding passes all the way through to Belize City.
But in Dallas, they hit a roadblock. “They took a look at our passports and said that my passport was mutilated, therefore I wasn’t able to fly,” Gosnell said.
Little Kye’s passport has a crease on the back cover, which Gosnell says came from him accidentally sitting on the passport.
His passport was questioned, but not denied. It was Kyle Gosnell’s that was the real problem. It has a small crease on the back cover, and is overall weathered and worn.
While some travelers may consider that a badge of honor, of sorts, the government doesn’t.
Ray Priest, owner of International Passport Visas in Denver, said your passport isn’t actually yours at all; it belongs to the US government.
“To have a passport is privilege, it’s not entitled to you by citizenship,” Priest said. He said the issue may be with a microchip embedded in the back of all new passports. “They have no reason in the world to let you travel if it’s been damaged,” Priest said. “It’s like cutting your photo out or something if that chip doesn’t work.”
Kyle Gosnell has used this passport to travel to Belize before. The family just wants there to be more uniform policies.
“There was no protocol,” said Dana Gosnell. “They don’t have the same system of rules for the Denver airport that they do for the Dallas airport.”
But Priest called this a fair warning for other travelers. “This is done for national security, for whatever reason they can’t make an exception, period,” he said. American Airlines is paying for the family’s hotel.
A spokesperson for the airline didn’t give FOX31 an official statement, but said it is within the airline’s rights to refuse a traveler for a passport that might not be able to be scanned.
The family is going to the passport office Tuesday to hopefully get new documents and continue with their scheduled trip to Belize.
Feb. 23 Update:
The Colorado Passport Agency has released this statement:
“From Passport Services perspective this problem seems to originate with the airlines. We generally don’t consider a crease to be damaged or mutilated such that it would prevent travel. Even if the RFID chip in the passport fails to operate, as long as the data and photo are legible, there should be no problem.”