passport card

Woman arriving to Puerto Vallarta sent home over passport card

A couple expecting to spend their vacation in Mexico had their trip brought to a halt when the airport in Puerto Vallarta wouldn’t accept a passport card.

Kristine and Richard Scimeca had booked a flight leaving from O’Hare International Airport Saturday and arriving in Puerto Vallarta.

“This was a company trip that I won, which I worked hard for three months,” Richard Scimeca said.
When the couple arrived at the Chicago airport, Richard Scimeca had a traditional passport, but his wife had a passport card. A United Airlines representative assisted them with entering the information from the passport card and said there was no problem.

[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]Puerto Vallarta tourist detained for Sudafed pills[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]

But when the pair arrived in Mexico, officials would not let Kristine leave the airport. Less than two hours later, the Scimecas were being sent home.

“I cried,” Kristine Scimeca said.

A passport card only applies for land or sea travel to certain locations internationally. While that information is printed on the back of the card, the Scimecas admit they didn’t see it. But it was an oversight they said should have been caught by the airline.

“United should have never let us out of O’Hare,” Kristine Scimeca said.

The Scimecas booking agent, Apple Vacations, said the travel documents clearly state that you cannot fly using a passport card and United Airlines said it is the passenger’s responsibility to handle all of their travel documents. The airline noted, however, that it plans to work with the Scimecas to remedy the situation.
“We hope nobody else runs into this problem,” Kristine Scimeca said. “We don’t want anybody to have to go through what we did.”

The Scimecas said Monday the airline plans to cover the airfare for a new trip.

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76 Responses
  1. So… Not your back yard, eh? – Please remember that Mexico is a different country; investigate the requirements to travel before you plan your trip, so you can have a nice vacation.

  2. Driving into Ontario, Canada for a fishing trip a friend had opted for the passport card. The rest of us had a passport book. If he would have a medical emergency or a death in the family, he could not fly home. Better off with the passport book. I think the card is about half the price of the book.

    1. Denise Jurcyk

      I regret i didn’t add the passport card when renewing my passport . It was so inexpensive when renewing together. But, I thought it was an add on after a passport. I didn’t know you can apply without a passport?

  3. I just left there Chicago airlines suck I’m honestly shocked they even mAde it through there!!! Loved Mexico!!! I had passport flew but getting back into the USA from Mexico was a pain in the ass don’t know if I ever want to leave the USA to have to deal with the bs entering country❓Mexico even checked me for bombs like ummmmmm I could have did a lot of stuff way before I got to here!!!! Way too much but enjoyed lovers beach!!!

    1. I try to avoid Chicago airports– just always has seemed difficult– nice to see we no longer have to fill in the paper forms on return, I always thought that with the many thousands of those forms, the processing? and storing of them must be a huge burden– or perhaps they went from your hands to the shredder– Last week in Dallas, I scanned my passport, pushed a few buttons, got a lousy photo of me, handed it off, and was in– am always happy when things go smoothly.

    2. John Fleshin that’s how Chicago was then you had to go clear around on shuttle needless to say betime we got there had 15 minutes left they shut gate, missed flight they had to get us a room and first class back to Ohio was a mess!!! Easer getting out of the USA usually;)

    3. Denise Jurcyk

      Your problem. Citizens are given BS. Illegals are waved through. At least at custom stations on the border.

  4. From the US Dept of State: The U.S. Passport Card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.

  5. Tim Ruble

    It’s a bad forgery. I can tell these things based on past experience knowing I was right. I mean, there’s not even a card number or dates of birth on that “passport card”. What were they thinking?

      1. Tim Ruble

        Well yeah obviously he was but the questions remain: What caused him to black out? How were they allowed on the plane when said ticket agent is unconscious? And how did know one notice?! This story just get seedier and seedier.

        1. spritrig

          The numbers you say are missing are blocked (pixelated) out by a photo editor. I didn’t mention anyone blacking out. I recommend getting an eye exam. (Free at shops that sell glasses in Puerto Vallarta.)

  6. Moral of the story: check your facts before you travel, from the proper sources. DO NOT rely on the information ANY airline gives you, even at the airport. I’ve watched this happen for un-seasoned travelers over and over. Plain and simple, it’s YOUR responsibility, no one elses!

    1. spritrig

      You can go to Mexico with nothing. Just don’t try it on an airplane. Check Article 11 of the Mexican Constitution. I have met US Citizens 1,000 miles South of the border with no passport, no FMT; so they were illegally in Mexico.

  7. I agree with Xavier. How did they let her on a plane? This is like a post here a few weeks ago about putting a woman in Jail for bringing Sudafed here. What they failed to say she was here for 4 days and had 4 ( or maybe 14, I forget) or more boxes! There is always more to the story in Mexico.

    1. And Rich Kaufman is correct…..Sudafed is illegal in Mexico……along with OxyContin…..people need to read before they travel……it is just plain ignorance of the law in other countries.

    2. When coming by air, the airlines walk you through filling out the forms. Unfortunately, they tell you where to tear them off before looking at the exact items, quantities and prohibitions allowed. After a long flight, keep that tear off sheet for future reference and hope you don’t get a red light! Good news is, if you become a permanent resident, you are entitled to a one-time ship everything down (your entire house) IVA free, but everything needs to be itemized. Movers in the U.S. Know how to do it. My friends had 256 boxes with no problem.

  8. I have one, and the first thing in the back (yes, sometimes you need to read both sides of the small card) clearly states “Valid only for International land and sea travel between United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.” If anyone sees by air, I have an amazing optometrist here for you.

        1. spritrig

          You can only get the passport card with a passport. You enter Canada and Mexico with a passport.

  9. When they give you the passport and passport card the information is right on the form with the card…….airfare with passport only…..all other travel can be done with both.

    Problem is, people don’t bother to read anything.

    But I personally can’t see how they let her on the plane……

  10. Devschool

    Another case of American companies caring more about profit than helping passengers. How awesome she didn’t put it on Mexico. Usually that is the story.

    1. Puerto Vallarta News It is their responsibility, they have to pay the return fare for anyone they accept without the correct papers– getting it out of them, may be quite something else, unless she had a one way ticket? Really is a stupid technicality — not going to help tourism. Sort of like X Raying luggage on arrival– and the reputation of taking things purchased in duty free which were not declared– especially around Christmas–

    2. John Fleshing Mexicans don’t really like Americans all that much to begin with so I am sure turning back the odd pompous arrogant self serving american really does not bother them !

    3. Prosper Theroux You have many assumptions in your post, I know what you mean, but 300,000 Mexican Nationals make their living in tourism just in Vallarta. Regardless, I am always treated with courtesy, well, some silly things happen–

    4. Selecia Young-Jones , normally I strongly agree– my late friend in Immigration Law told me if the airline allows someone without the right papers to travel to a foreign country, they pay the return. Makes them more careful. This last trip, the folks boarding my connecting flight were being silly, messing with my fanny pack and trying to force check my cpap carry on– and though my passport and ticket were in hand, they missed me boarding- papers had been checked at point of origin, — but they were buzzing around and distracted. So, things happen, but you are essentially correct–

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