How Maddie got her first passport by Jake aka John Brandon
So, here are the gory details: John, Lori, Lisa and Madison (age 13 months) show up at Bradley International Airport February 28 at 4:00 a.m. for a 6:00 flight to Miami on American Airlines, connecting to Belize City.
At the counter, Lori notices the AA representative was very nervous after asking me for the identification for our daughter. After much consultation, an AA supervisor came back and told us we could not board the flight because all we had for Maddie was a full-sized birth certificate and no passport. Naturally I felt like an idiot for not thinking about that beforehand, but there was nothing to be done about it. Ironically, AA had called me the day prior because the travel agent I used to book the trip had inadvertently inserted the name of Lisa, Maddie’s aunt, twice in the reservation, and left Maddie out completely. So AA called me, and kept me on the phone for about 45 minutes while they sorted that out.
At no point did either the travel agent, with whom I had extensive conversations, nor AA mention that I needed a passport for our 13-month old child.
So, back at the airport, American Airlines’ position was that this was my mistake, and if we wanted to fly tomorrow we had to pay $6,000. That number was so out of the realm of reality that I almost had a stroke.
However, that 45-minute call from AA the day before became very critical. They found the computer record that it had, indeed, taken place, and I said they should have mentioned to me at some point that I needed a passport for our child. The supervisor for AA at the airport couldn’t have been nicer.
She kept one of her superiors on the phone for almost an hour arguing our case, and at the end of all of that they ticketed us for the next day, same flight, at no charge.
We collected our luggage, called the parking facility to come get us, and headed back home, 20 minutes from the airport.
We gathered Maddie’s original birth certificate, her adoption papers (we adopted Maddie at two days old), I went online to download passport application, filled in all the necessary information, printed it, and we headed out at about 8:00. The passport office in Connecticut is in Stamford, a town near the New York border, 90 miles from our home. We arrived at the passport office about 10:15, waited until they opened at 10:30, got in line, handed in our documents, and were told to come back at 2:30.
We went into downtown Stamford, had a bite to eat, walked in the mall (one of my least favorite things in the world), tried to keep Maddie occupied, and at 2:30 went back to the passport office. We got back in line, waited about 20 minutes, and were finally handed Maddie’s passport. Because it was an “emergency” application the fee was $165.00.
Back in the car, drive 90 miles home, hit the afternoon traffic in southern Connecticut, and get home about 5:30.
The next morning, up at 3:00 once again, and back to the airport at 4:00. The good news at the airport was that the supervisor had booked our tickets “Priority” so we did not have to wait in any lines, for ourselves or our luggage, on any of the outbound flights.
Once there, we loved San Pedro Belize. We stayed at Banyan Bay, and the staff couldn’t have been nicer. The buildings and grounds are immaculate, Rico’s Restaurant is excellent, the pool is awesome, and we loved our stay there. The pool has a large area where the water is about 8-inches deep, perfect for a little person, and Maddie had a ball splashing in the pool.
Every morning I’d carry her outside to look at and listen to the birds, and she loved that. Every day at 10:30 one of the cooks at Rico’s goes to the rear of the restaurant and throws shrimp casings into the enclosed area where eels live in the rocks. The crabs scuttle around grabbing the shrimp, and the bright green moray eels, as well as some brown spotted eels, come out to eat. The seagulls swoop in to get what they can, noisily fighting one another, and all of this was fascinating to Maddie. We did this several time on the trip.
Maddie sits in a car seat whenever she is on a road trip at home. To be on the golf cart, sitting in the open, wind hitting her face, and watching the world go by, had her laughing and talking non-stop. Just riding in the cart with her was one of the highlights of our trip.
Traveling with a toddler is never easy, but having said that, once we checked in at Banyan Bay our trip was all good. Maddie had the time of her young life, and we’ll definitely do it again.