Peter Hurley's picture
The Man

Yes to Vegas and unfortunately no to Dubai.

After a brutal, but incredibly fun WPPI I set off for Dubai from Vegas on my way to Gulf Photo Plus on Wednesday.

It was really nice to know that United keeps my passport info on my account and added it to my itinerary for Dubai. It seems that whatever server that stores that information doesn't communicate with the kiosks at the airport because the second I tried to check in I was stopped and told that I couldn't get on my flight. My passport expires on April 24th and unbeknownst to me in order to enter Dubai you need to have at least six months remaining on your passport before expiration. Can someone tell me why the kiosk knew this immediately, but United didn't alert me when I purchased the ticket and added my travel documents? Also, what good is the expiration date printed on my passport anyway?

That was the beginning of the saga. United handled it fairly well, however, I did have to shell out $426 in order to just sit in the same exact seat I had on the plane to DC that day. For some reason they had to split the ticket up and wouldn't do it without the charge. I wasn't about to fight it, I was losing my mind already and I figured it would be better getting there rather than being stuck in Vegas. In retrospect, maybe I was wrong, but luckily my business partner lives in DC and I was able to crash with her.

We made a plan to hit the passport agency at 8am sharp the next morning. I got some passport pics at CVS(I threw in a slight squinch!) and was off. It had just started snowing, but when we got to the US Passport Agency they told us they had already shut down all government facilities for the day.

Had to go to a backup plan. I called a bunch of expeditors and found one that would get the passport back to me in a business day. I filled out all the paperwork, paid the fees and all I had to do was drop everything at Fedex and I would be good to go. Unfortunately, another turn for the worse. When I reached the Fedex office it was shut down, I frantically called their customer service only to find out that they shut down their entire operation in the DC area yesterday!

This left me wondering if something was really trying to drill it through my head that I'm not going to Dubai this GPP. However, I wasn't about to give up and it left me brainstorming my next move. The expeditors told me not to try to sit at the passport agency on Friday because of the backlog from taking the day off, so that was a no go. Anna was leaving DC, so staying with her just didn't make sense and with the weekend coming I knew I couldn't do much to get a passport anyway, so I decided to get back to NY and see what I could do here.

I looked at flights, but they were all being cancelled or delayed, so I looked at train schedules. However, with all my bags I couldn't get on a train with the ability to check them, so that left a rental car or a bus. I elected on a bus and made it back to NYC safe and sound.

I'm totally bummed about the entire situation and hope I can make it up to Mo & Hala at Gulf Photo Plus, who have been incredibly supportive throughout the mess.

Well, I'm home for a week and have no bookings, so let's get some Headshot Crew CrewCasts going guys. I'll be announcing them shortly.

Here's a link to a Facebook post with a video about it:


Jeku Arce's picture

What an adventure! Was following you on Snapchat. Glad you're safe at home with your family.

Each country has their own immigration laws and some of them are crazy (cough mainland China cough). Airlines that I've dealt with usually have notices on their website on the regulations for the country you're going to. Sorry it didn't work out for you.

Peter Hurley's picture
The Man

Yeah, all I needed was United to see it and alert me. What's the big deal there? They certainly knew!

Kalin Tabov's picture

Since they were the ones that didn't let you go, it totally makes sense to notify you in advance. Apart from that, the 6 month thing is not uncommon in many countries, so maybe you were lucky you were stopped here.

Nancy Johnson's picture

no words. glad you at least made it home.

Bruno Kongawoin's picture

If you do a lot of traveling it is standard practice for seasoned international travelers to keep their passport as you found out at least with a 6 months validity period before traveling to another country. But if you are there already and stopping over to another country, you get stuck with the same issue you had.

i came to play basketball in Australia with a passport that had 9 months validity. My next contract was in Spain and I was trying to make sure that I didn't have to go through what you experience, I sent my passport back to have it renewed, however it did not come on time for me to go to Spain. I ended up losing the contract in Spain, got stuck in Australia. Then I told myself, well Australia is not a bad place, so 26 years later I am still here because my passport was expiring and I could not travel and enter any other country but my own :-)

Peter Hurley's picture
The Man

No way!!! Wow. That's wild. Maybe everything does happen for a reason.

Gareth Dix's picture

Oh no! The dubai passport requirements are because they give you a 3month visa on arrival. To be honest you were lucky they stopped you from getting on the flight as a 13 hour flight and then being told you can't enter would have been a real kick in the nuts.

I was once heading to Egypt and my gf (at the time) was told they wouldn't let her on the plane as she needed 5years on her passport. We tried to tell them that the passports from her country were only issued for 5 years so the requirement didn't make sense but they weren't having it so we missed the flight. Then she called her dad who got the Egyptian ambassador to call the airline directly and "explain" their mistake. The next flight was in 4 days and were only going for 7 so it was a no-go!

These things happen to everyone though!

Peter Hurley's picture
The Man

That's a rough one.

Veronica Esqueda's picture

Sorry to hear this adventure. Glad to hear you are safe. Glad you made it home safely.

I recently had to cancel a flight and was given credit to fly again at a later date with no penalty. Next time cancel the flight and get the credit. Then call back to schedule your new flight with no additional charge.

Tillie Van Etten's picture

Your drama brought back memories: I had to leave GPP early (so bummed) in 2013 because my visa entry into Nigeria (home at the time) was about to expire in two days. I found the next flight out and entered Nigeria 3 hours before the visa expiration. Phew, if the flight had been delayed, I would've been sent back to Dubai then onto US (I'm at US passport holder) - via Econo class. Be super aware of expiration dates on your Passport. Immigration offices are RUTHLESS!!

Elaine Zelker's picture

Feel so badly for you...and your frustration must be through the roof!! And yet, you still are in GO-mode and will do some rock!! I enjoy the SnapChats as well....I'm sure I'll be sending you more in the future!! hahaha :) hang in there!

Florence Catania's picture

Crazy story. I agree, a system should be put in place where people get alerts if the booking date conflicts with current status of their passports. That would be super useful.

Gordon Clark's picture

Good to hear you are safe at home with your family Peter.
I loved following the events via Snapchat on FB!

John Galfano's picture

Holy Moses! I had no idea until I saw your video on Facebook the other night.
It's obvious you did everything you could.

Michael Waller's picture

Just went through the exact same thing going to Mexico. Fortunately, the travel agency caught it with enough time for me to get the passport fixed. That didn't help with all the cancelled flights though. I don't get the whole expiration thing either, whats the point of and expiration date that is actually 6 months earlier.

Fadi Kelada's picture

I think you shouldn't rely on the airlines anymore for reminders. Better set a reminder alert on your calendar 7 months prior next expiration date so if you happen to be abroad on that date you will have a month window to return home and renew your passport. This is how I do it with my own passport and visas.

One Sharp Joe's picture

Thats a major bummer! Well at least you can get some rest after this crazy WPPI schedule. I'm just getting back from Vegas today lol Took a few days at another resort to chill before heading back to the cold NY weather lol

Ines Laimins's picture

omg Peter, I was laughing so hard when I saw your video, not because it was funny, but could totally relate!! The same thing happened to me years ago, but with two little kids in tow. I should have videoed that drama!!

Anonymous's picture

I watched the video and I have to say that you seemed remarkably composed. I would have blown a gasket. I don't get how a passport a month before the expiration date somehow isn't valid.

Madeleine Gray's picture

Oh my - travel nightmare! I hadn't heard about the 6-month rule, so that's useful info to know.... YIKES.

It's not much consolation, I expect, but i can tell you firsthand that the storm wiped out EVERYTHING in DC that day. I'm currently in a show onstage at the Kennedy Center, which was shut down for the night and all performances cancelled - the cast dubbed it "Most Expensive Snowstorm Ever" (no show = no fee as it was force majeure, and no way to reschedule it). What a mess!!

Mikala Freitas's picture

Ah yes, I've had that experience at well, not to Dubai, but Europe. Some countries will let you travel within 6 months to expiration, others not. Here is an article fro the gov of the USA that you can check which countries require or waive the requirement

David Saggio's picture

Peter, what a bummer. I've been there. Happened to me on a trip to Paris. I was 2 days ( !!!! ) short of 6 months and they wouldn't let me on the plane. Luckily the Boston Passport office expedited me the next day and I only lost one day of the trip. Sorry you're not heading to Dubai, but looking forward to some CrewCast time together.

Chris Marxen's picture

Are you guys realising you are replying to a 8 year old post? :)

Nicolae Pop's picture

Shabummers! Sorry to hear it all fell apart. Looking forward to some CrewCast action though.

Chris Marxen's picture

Well, it fell apart 8 years ago so i'm sure he's over it ;)

Nicolae Pop's picture

LOL, how did I miss that?