Teenager jumping through hoops for a new passport for senior trip

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — A Cherry Creek High School senior has just two business days left to try and get a new passport so she can go on her senior trip with her friends. 

“With COVID we didn’t really get a senior year,” Audrey Pallai, who just graduated from Cherry Creek High said. 

Pallai said she and her friends started planning their trip to Cozumel, Mexico just about a month ago and sadly realized 10 days before her expected flight, she realized her passport had expired in March.

Audrey’s mom, Maggie Pallai said since travel has been so dicey during the pandemic they haven’t pulled out their passports in over a year and a half. 

“It’s been a hard year, we were just really hoping to give this to her for being such a great kid,” Maggie said. 

Pallai said she has been scouting passport in-person appointments all over the country. She said her friends, who are going on the trip too, have also been helping in trying to find her an in-person appointment to get a new passport. 

According to a local passport company FOX31 and Channel 2 spoke with, since Pallai’s first passport was issued before she was 16 years old, she can’t renew that one. She has to apply for a new passport instead. 

“Truthfully, I didn’t think it would be a big issue to get it renewed cause we’ve been able to walk in and walk back out,” Maggie said. 

On Wednesday, Pallai’s friend was able to book her an in-person appointment in Seattle, Washington for Friday. Pallai said she booked $500.00 flights while at work Wednesday and left early Thursday morning for Seattle. 

But Thursday afternoon, while at the hotel in Seattle, Pallai received a call from the passport office where her appointment was booked telling her the appointment was cancelled. 

On Thursday, President Joe Biden officially made Juneteenth a federal holiday that would be observed the next day on Friday, which closed federal offices. 

According to the U.S. Department of Travel website, these are the things you should expect when it comes to getting your hands on a passport: 

  • Mail delays are impacting when we receive passport applications for processing. Our processing times begin the day we receive your application, not the day you mail it.
  • Routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 18-week timeframe includes up to 12 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.
  • Expedite service (for an additional $60) can take up to 12 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 12-week timeframe includes up to 6 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.

The website also stated there is an Urgent Travel Appointment option, “an extremely limited number of appointments are available for customers who are traveling internationally in the next 72 hours (3 business days). Restrictions apply and we cannot guarantee you can make an appointment.” 

That is one of the appointments Pallai is still trying to get. 

“We’re hoping something will happen Monday or Tuesday get her on the flight with her friends and give her some much desired relaxation,” Maggie said. The website also had this notification posted on their website: 

“If you scheduled an appointment on Friday, June 18 at one of our agencies and centers, go to our Passport Agency and Center page to find information about the operating status of each location. If your agency is closed, we will contact you directly by phone to reschedule your appointment on another day. If your agency is open, plan to arrive on time for your appointment. We cannot take walk-in customers.

Please note the National Passport Information Center will be closed on Friday, June 18. You can get your questions answered immediately by using one of the self-service tools available on our website.” 

FOX31 and Channel 2 reached out to several Colorado Representatives to see if they can help with Pallai’s situation. We are waiting to hear back. 

“I went through all this work to go on this trip with my friends from elementary school as one last trip before college and now I probably won’t even get to go with them,” Pallai said. 

According to the website, passport services are working to get services back to normal. “We continue to work to reduce processing times for both routine and expedited service, while protecting the health and safety of our staff and customers. We will re-evaluate the processing times on a rolling basis and will adjust them downward as resources allow.” 

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