This happened in late Oct2012. I was on a railfan trip of the USA, 7 weeks, 4 on Amtrak & 3 by bus. My traveling companion was my mate Ian, a fellow railfan.
On the Thursday before we were due to fly home on the Sunday, we left Chicago on Amtrak's California Zephyr at 2:00pm and were due to reach Emeryville in the East Bay at 4:30 pm on Saturday. About 4 hours later Ian suddenly starts scrabbling around in his cabin bag. He looks up and says I can't find my PASSPORT!!! To cut it short we checked all the bags we both had in the cabin, the car attendant got Ian's bag from the baggage car at the next long stop (12m mins). No luck there and it was now after 7:00pm in UTC
-5 so no Consulate would be open.
The next morning (Friday) he rang the Australian Consular 1-800 number. During a long conversation he was told to just carry on, he was given a reference number and a phone number to get the UA
check in supervisor at SFO
to enable him to board the plane.
So off to SFO
we go at 2:00pm on Sunday for our 6:30 pm departure (we were flying via LAX
). So we front up to the relevant UA
check in desk about 2:30. I check-in fine and Ian give the story to the check-in lady, who duly called her supervisor, who authorised her to call the number Ian had given her. So she did, turns out she was talking to Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade in Canberra who authorised UA
to board Ian on a flight to Australia, holding UA
harmless, with all sort of authorisations numbers. Check-in lady proceeds to do the check-in, prints the baggage tags, but cannot print his boarding pass. So she rings Tech Support and they go back and forth for about an hour, she ends up talking to UA
Corp legal (she said) and they said "United will NOT transport the passenger, irrespective of what the Australian Government says" and hangs up in her ear! She lets fly with a string of what I assume was Spanish. I have no idea what it was and I'm glad it was not directed at me! So she re-booked Ian to LAX
(on our original flight) and booked him 24 hours later on LAX
So off we go to the gate, I walk thru the TSA
check point and scanner and look around for Ian and he's standing on the other side of the check point with a very large TSA
officer. After a while I ask a TSA
officer, who happened to be the check point supervisor what was happening he replied that they weren't going to let him fly without id. (Ian lost his drivers license about 20 years ago due to poor eye sight). I explained what happened and even gave him the Australian authorisation number. He went away, came back and got on the phone and rang several people and said they would let him fly after a "full" inspection. Which they then did, which took quite some time. We were finally permitted to go air-side.
We ran to our gate, went straight on the jet bridge and into the aircraft. I went straight thru to SYD
, Ian spent the next day in LA
getting a temporary passport and arrived home 24 hours later.
I was very happy with all UA
front line staff especially the check-in lady at SFO
corporate is entirely another matter.
Moral of the story carry multiple id documents and in different parts of your person. (Ian now has a NSW government issued id card, to back up his passport).