As passport wait times continue to cause frustration across the country, a Vancouver woman took matters into her own hands to save time – by flying to Edmonton to avoid lengthy lineups.
Whitney B., who declined to give her last name to Black Press Media for privacy reasons, said she drove past the Richmond passport office around 10 p.m. on June 14 and found two people already waiting. Staying in line overnight until 8:30 a.m. when the office opened seemed impossible while juggling her job in the commercial trucking industry, alongside her role as a local food influencer.
“Not everyone has six hours to wait,” she said.
She considered visiting Victoria, but that would cost more time and money than a trip to Edmonton, she said. She disqualified the passport office in Kelowna because it does not do urgent passport renewals.
“There was nothing I could do to plan ahead. Nobody plans to lose their passport, right? I had contacted a few people to hold the line, but they were wishy-washy. I felt like even if I paid them there was no guarantee they would be there the next morning or not sell my spot to someone else,” she said.
She was inspired to avoid the wait by travelling when she saw people from Toronto, Ontario, posting on social media about their passport renewal trips to Quebec.
@twofoodpiggies Going to Edmonton was much more worth it than camping out in YVR #canadapassport #passport #edmonton #vancouverpassport #flairairlines #passporthack ♬ Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) [2018 Remaster] - Kate Bush
Whitney documented her passport fiasco on TikTok. Since posting, responses have been mostly positive. Some commenters congratulated her out-of-box thinking. However, Whitney also read posts that said people who had to wait for hours were just ill-prepared for travel, which is not what she observed.
“From everyone I talked to in the waiting room, basically everyone had sent in their passport for renewal three to four months ahead of time. Whatever is happening in the passport entity makes it so they are not getting their passports back in time,” she said.
The flight fare cost Whitney $87 for the round trip through discount flight company Flair.
Her time in the Edmonton office lasted roughly two-and-a-half hours, including the wait for a passport officer who was authorized to replace a lost passport in one day.
The office in Edmonton did not require proof of travel within the next 24 hours from Whitney. Everyone was helpful from security to the passport officer and even the people waiting alongside her, she said.
“I can’t say that if you did the exact same thing that I did that you would be able to get your passport,” she said. “I considered myself very lucky in this situation.”
According to Passport Canada, the overflow of passport applications causes wait times longer than the service standards listed on its website. It instructs to not finalize travel plans before getting your passport. It also notes that any fee refunds for service delays are suspended for applications submitted, until June 30.