Embracing Adventure “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~~Hellen Keller

Procuring My Passport and Our Plane Tickets

Passport Cover

My husband picked up my no-fee passport October 19th and told me that he didn’t think I would like the photo. While the lady who took my application had made sure the photo was good, he said they had smooshed it when they printed the passport, and it didn’t look the same. It was a couple of days before I saw it. The photo wasn’t as bad as I had expected but wasn’t as good as the original (the second of which my husband kept for his wallet. Aww). I was more surprised by the actual passport.

I had seen the no-fee passports with a maroon cover which say “OFFICIAL” above “PASSPORT”, so I had expected it would look like that. Instead, I found mine looks just like the dark blue tourist passport (although that almost looks black). I had read in a few places about traveling on a tourist passport because the no-fee ones identify a connection to the government which one doesn’t want to call attention to, so it is nice to see that this will appear exactly the same as a tourist passport to most people.

Visa for Germany

The only difference is that inside, under endorsements, it says to see page 27 on which is written: “THIS PASSPORT IS VALID ONLY FOR USE IN CONNECTION WITH THE BEARER’S RESIDENCE ABROAD AS A DEPENDENT OF A MEMBER OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY OR NAVAL FORCES ON ACTIVE DUTY OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.” I had been told I can travel on the no-fee passport,  but a country other than Germany has the right not to let me in with it. Due to the phrasing of the endorsement page, I think my passport will be okay in most of Europe, and I have read other people’s experiences of never being asked to see theirs in the countries within the European Union. I will likely get a tourist passport if we plan to fly anywhere, but until then I’m not going to worry about it too much. [Edit: I found out that while there are open borders within the EU, if you’re stopped and don’t have a tourist passport on you, you can be fined and it can be difficult to get out of the country, so I wouldn’t risk it. Just get a tourist passport, but make sure you also take the no fee one with you to get back to the country you’re stationed in.]

Plane Tickets

The same day my husband had picked up my passport, he got our plane tickets…three different times. The first time he got the tickets for a day in November and picked up the passport. Shortly thereafter, he was told he would actually fly out the following day and needed new tickets. So, they gave us new ones. The new flight would be out of Atlanta, GA.

He found out that if the weather was cold there was a possibility they would deny us taking our two dogs, who we’d already gone through steps to take, on the flight. We couldn’t risk that so he called me to have me look up shipping companies. If that failed, he wanted me to see if my parents would take the dogs.

After about an hour of searching, all I found were companies out of the area or that didn’t include the transit of the pets in their already high fees. Many of the companies charged just to make arrangements to take pets in a flight with the owner (which is what we needed to get around).  As I was about to give up and call my parents, he called back. The guy helping him was able to find a Delta flight out of Charleston, SC which will allow both dogs to travel for $400.

When I had originally looked up taking pets, I had come across information that one can can take them via air mobility command for around $80 if one is on the flight, so he hadn’t been expecting it to be so much for a civilian flight. I told him the most recent page I’d looked for pet shipping companies quoted much more than that plus the price of the pets’ tickets. So $400 for both is actually better.

The other positive thing is that the port that we will be shipping our car from is in Charleston. So, we can drop the car off a couple of days early, get a hotel, and then get a cab to the flight. With the original arrangements, we would have had to drop the car off in Charleston and get a ride to Atlanta for the flight. Plus we faced the possibilities they’d deny the dogs on the flight or we would have to spend more to use a pet shipping company. So, really it worked out in our favor.  I’m glad the guy my husband was working with was committed to working something out rather than letting him leave with the possibility we’d leave our dogs behind.

Have you ever shipped a pet overseas? If so, what method did you use?

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13 Thoughts on “Procuring My Passport and Our Plane Tickets

  1. That’s great news! 400 bucks for both dogs, my, I still consider that so incredibly high. Or is this the price for one person and a dog?

    You’re flying out in November, that’s nice, just in time for the cold…. :-p

    I didn’t know there was anything like a non-fee passport, I don’t think I have ever owned one in my life. Looks almost like a “real” one (yes yes, I know, it’s real!), but it would not be good if you couldn’t travel on it thru Europe. Much luck on finding that out. The thing is a normal passport costs so much these days, it is quite a rip-off!

    • It is still high, but Delta charges $200 per dog for travel outside the US. I did read where if you have two compatible pets of the same type and size that fit in one crate they’d charge it as one pet. According to my husband that also includes the import fees (at least in our case) so hopefully there aren’t any surprises. Nope that doesn’t count the person. I looked up the flight we’ll be taking and the cheapest for two people was $3535. The Army paid less than that though, and we don’t pay anything for our own tickets, so that’s a perk.

      Haha I know right. At least it’s November and not the middle of winter so I’ll have a little time to adjust. I expect to be overly cold at least the first year though because I start putting on a hoodie if it’s in the sixties.

      I didn’t know about it til I had to go get one. They are pretty much only for someone traveling abroad for the U.S. government, or someone who is a dependent of a person traveling for the U.S. government. I held it up to my husbands and it looks about the same although he got his before they started using the biometric passports (which you can tell mine is from the little icon at the bottom). I have heard that most of the EU has open borders with the rest as long as I went by car or train but if I took a plane it might not fly (har har). I agree they do cost quite a bit (which is why I hadn’t had one before), but at least they are good for ten years if I have to get one. But that’s for future Amanda to worry about. 😉

      • The EU has open borders, that is true, but if you want to take Germanwings, Ryanair, Lufthansa or any other plane to get to the Spanish Islands, Stockholm, London and so on, they require a passport for US Americans. Even though you could take the scenic route from Germany and London via tunnel thru France…

        But you’ll figure it out, I am sure of that.
        Heidelberg is one of the warmest spots in Germany, but I am afraid you will be cold, yes. Because you’ve been in the South for way to long. 🙂 When I came back from FL I was sick 4 times in a row, my body had so many troubles adjusting. But you’ll be fine after this.

        • Yeah I plan to have a tourist passport before we would fly anywhere. The scenic route could be fun but I have heard that France does not like people to use the no-fee passport and while you might get in with it you might not get back out without a fine and/or being detained, which wouldn’t be worth not having the tourist passport before trying.

          Haha yeah. I thought it was nice out today and it was like 80 with a breeze. Sorry you were sick but glad if you adjusted. Won’t be surprised if that happens to me as well but hopefully I’ll get used to it pretty quickly.

  2. So glad you’re able to ship your dogs with you, that’s a huge relief! I had no idea that the passports for military would be different, interesting.

    • Thanks. I actually called today to make sure they had the request confirmed. They didn’t so I put it in. Apparently they also have a restriction if it’s below 40* and they don’t allow pets below 20*, but if our vet says they can travel below 40* they can, so we’ll have to make sure he puts it on their paperwork just in case. With the passports, it’s my understanding that it’s basically given to be a faster way to get a passport without requiring the fee and to give some added protection while in Germany since it would be clear from any official checking that I’m there as a military dependent.

  3. dogs are important I see.:) I asked my husband if I can have a dog when we already have our own place, since weare just renting now and didn’t allow us to have pet. He said maybe. Well, I really love doggy, but maybe we will not have. 🙁

    • Yep. We love our dogs. Well, hopefully he will let you. They can be a pain sometimes but they’re great most of the time. They’re always excited to see you even if you’re gone only five minutes and ours are pretty affectionate. The min pin especially loves to get under the blankets and cuddle up which is nice when my husband goes to work early so I don’t get cold.

      • Yeah, last night I was asking him again if I can have dog, he said “we will see honey”, He probably started to think about it, so he’ll see me happy (Giggles). I am sometimes making such drama so he will be okay with that. Bad wife I am 😀

    • Yep. We love our dogs. Well, hopefully he will let you. They can be a pain sometimes but they’re great most of the time. They’re always excited to see you even if you’re gone only five minutes and ours are pretty affectionate. The min pin especially loves to get under the blankets and cuddle up which is nice when my husband goes to work early so I don’t get cold.

  4. I hope bringing your dogs work out. I ended up leaving my dog in the states after much drama! This time of year it should be fine for you, though.

    My flight to Italy was a nightmare. 3 Flight changes after we arrived at the airport meant we could not bring our dog due to the heat embargo. We’d called the airport in advance to make sure it was okay to bring the dog on the flight. Just stay in touch with the airlines and know that customer service reps do not always know what they are talking about! I could have shipped her, but in Italy you have to use a professional shipping company which costs big bucks. My dog is happy living with my niece, but I sure miss her!

    • Thanks. Yeah hope so. We won’t have to worry about heat, but there could be an issue if it is too cold. Yikes. Our is only supposed to stop in Atlanta and then be direct to Frankfurt so hopefully it will go as expected. That’s good she is happy but I can understand missing her. I would miss my puppies if we left them behind too.

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