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The travel mistake costing Aussies their flights

You would think three or four months is enough time to get all your travel documents sorted. But that’s not the case for some, and waiting is proving a costly (and stressful) exercise.


Elesha allowed four months for the arrival of her daughter’s passport. When she called the Australian Passport Office early this month she was told the application hadn’t progressed, but would be prioritised and should be available after seven days. 


Two weeks later, still with no passport, she was told there was no telling how long it could take, the ABC reported. 


Elesha called again yesterday and was told she may have to line up at the Australian Passport Office in Brisbane within 24 hours of her flight. 


The person Elesha spoke to seemed pretty blunt. 


"She said, 'Well, people just have to cancel their flights'," Elesha told the ABC.



"I'm frustrated with the miscommunication, or the lack of honesty and transparency in the actual delayed wait time."


From July 2021 to June 2022, the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (which handles complaints about federal government departments and offices) has received 649 complaints regarding delayed passports. In the past six weeks, it’s already received 101 complaints for the same reason. 


"We understand processing times have improved in recent weeks," a statement from the Office of the Ombudsman read, adding that it is working with the passport office to "assess how it is managing application volumes and communicating processing times".


A spokesperson for the Australian Passport Office through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that while most people had their passports back after six weeks, applications for children could take longer.


According to the spokesperson the passport office had doubled its staff from 730 to 1,500 since late May, but warned that those hoping to travel abroad on the upcoming school holidays to have their applications in early.


"As school holidays draw closer, the APO's advice to Australians is to plan well ahead of their intended travel dates, including renewing or applying for their passport."

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Published: 17 August 2022

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