Europe 2022: A Passport Nightmare

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve found a second to write the numerous reviews I had planned for the past two weeks but, in retrospect, I found this hiatus quite refreshing and necessary if one is to even embrace the core concept of a “vacation” properly. Although I’m actually only halfway through my vacation, I have arrived at what I like to call our “central headquarters” in the south of France. Having already visited these beautiful lands in 2019, it is now the land of respite under the scorching European heat (which I actively avoid when I can). But that is not the talking point of this sort-of little article today. In fact, before I could actually arrive in Europe, I went through an incredible trial that I never ever could’ve fancied to my worst of enemies.

With a departure date set for the 19th of June, 2022, I had applied for a new passport months ahead, well beyond the mentioned delays for Passport Canada to deal with my application. What no one could have known is that Passport Canada did not see the massive wave of applications pouring into their offices as every citizen now looks for an escape with the threat of the coronavirus pandemic lessened with vaccination and health measures. With an important labor shortage and inadequate processing methods to handle all these applications, the result was an absence of follow-up on millions of applications which led many of us to queue up in person at one of three passport centers in the city.

Having informed myself on what was going on in the wild, news outlets were relaying images of insane line-ups at these centers where people had to wait in the middle of the night and sometimes even two full days to finally enter these facilities and, hopefully, get an answer regarding their passport applications. Arriving on Thursday night, at around 2 in the morning, with rain pouring over us, I find a line with over 200 people, geared up as if they were on an epic camping expedition. And you bet that hopelessness was gaining traction and almost dominating my soul at the thought of what was waiting for me in the next hours. Thankfully, although alone in this crazy adventure with everyone else unavailable or at work, I was surrounded by kind individuals who were living through the same ordeal and managed to extract key information about how everything worked to get myself onto a special line-up discretely formed at the entrance. You have no idea the amount of resilience and patience you’d need for these kinds of expeditions. While I didn’t get my passport on that day, I was given a “golden ticket” to come back the next day, because of how close I was to talking with someone inside, so that I could be prioritized and be among the first ones to enter and that was how I survived this ridiculous adventure to obtain my passport.

Now, you’d think that that was it. That, with this beautiful little document, everything would be just wonderful. Think again. With my flight on Sunday, it is only the day before that I learn about a sudden change in my flight. No, it wasn’t delayed. Originally supposed to arrive in Belgium by lunchtime, all passengers were put on a new flight heading to Paris with a four-hour bus ride to get us to Brussels. All this because, of all days in the year, it was on the day I was arriving in Brussels that 90% of the airport workers were going to be on strike. What luck! What you also need to know is that the flight time does not change, whether you’re heading to Brussels or Paris, which means that I was condemned to a longer journey that sort of killed my plans for the first day. What can you do, anyway? I told myself that it was way better than getting the whole thing canceled, right?

Arriving three-four hours in advance to the airport, which seems to be a good standard most of the time, I find myself discovering another disaster: yes… another insane line-up for my airplane company that barely moved forward at a reasonable pace to give me any hope of entering my plane in time. With very little information even communicated to passengers, I find myself drowned among countless others, working my way forward, watching the clock tick, believing more and more, despite trying to understand what’s going on, that I was screwed, that the airplane was bound to take off without me. You won’t believe how defeated everyone was since, on top of this first line-up, there was another one building up, longer than anything I’ve ever seen, to get past all the scanners, regardless of what company you were with.

And, boy, this line was maybe 1500-2000 people long! It was as serpentine as it could get and it was quite saddening to be in it. You had the impression that you were just walking in circles at some point but one thing was for sure: almost all flights were gradually getting OFFICIALLY delayed but you only figured that out once the departure time of your flight was seconds away. It was a couple of hours after the originally-planned departure time, once finally seated in my airplane after having sprinted the last miles, still believing I was royally screwed, that the captain of the airplane informed us that this day was unusual, that it was a concoction of countless factors, including meteorological threats and an F1 event in Montreal, that delays were inevitable. This is when I realized that I just had no luck whatsoever when it comes to flying off to Europe. But hey, this was still way better than getting everything canceled, unable to join my significant other, who, by the way, had absolutely zero issues heading to Brussels just a couple of days before me!

Funnily, I had just recently finished reading A Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. I decided that my vacation read would thus be The Gulag Archipelago (Vol. 1) just because I was in the mood for some historical life lessons that would put my own life in perspective… And how right I was. While it might have sounded like I was complaining about all this chaos I went through, I promise that it does not compare to anything some people have lived through during and after WWII. And, yes, I must be some kind of masochist because this is one heavy read, despite all the warnings in the world by fellow friends in the blogosphere. In some twisted way, it is still a quite appropriate pick for my adventures so far. Rest assured, since arriving in Europe on the 20th, I’ve been having a blast and I’ll certainly write up some quick posts to summarize my adventures soon! Until then, I hope you’ve all been having a blast and staying safe! 🙂

The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (Volume 1) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


41 thoughts on “Europe 2022: A Passport Nightmare

  1. We had sort of the same experience with lines everywhere this past weekend when we went to London. Felt like the whole world took holiday on the same day as the public trains were on strike. Not too fussed about the heat tho, soon before we know its gonna be cold again..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s pretty amazing how chaotic it can get when it comes to transportation nowadays! Hopefully, you both made the most of your time in London though. And yes, can’t complain too much about the heat when winter comes early and leaves late over in my corner of the world!


  2. I’m flying in July and already expecting the worst! But your post reminded me that the only thing we’re really in control of is our attitudes! Love your positive one!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, what a mess. But I have to say it at least sounds like you had a great attitude about the whole affair, or perhaps do now in hindsight. These sorts of things stress the crap out of me so I’m sure I’d have been so relieved to finally arrive at the final destination. Very glad to hear you’ve been having a great time now you’re there, and I very much hope that continues. And what a choice of reads! 🙂 Granted, I’ve not read it, but the title says it all. Stay well, Lashaan, and keep having a great time and keeping that fantastically positive perspective!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. I’ve often been told that I have a lot of patience and this whole ordeal really put it to the test. So many lessons to be learned from it all and I’m just glad I got the best outcomes possible too. Thanks, Todd! Hope you’ve been doing well lately too. Will be dropping by your blog to play catch up real soon. Take care! 😀


  4. WOW, I was getting stressed just reading about your little misadventure. I could NOT have handled that, any of it. Glad you made it safely though and glad that Gulag Vol 1 helped put things in perspective.
    I’m stilling working on Vol III and am pretty much reading it only when I feel super good. If I’m lucky I’ll finish it by years end 😀

    Have boatloads of fun and relaxing times…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG, Lashaan. I have heard so many stories like yours, but the difference is attitude. Although you could do nothing about it, you looked on the bright side, at least the whole trip wasn’t canceled. I am glad you are there, safe and having a nice vacation. Let’s hope your trip home is better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Think I’d’ve probably just gone home and watched France on TV had I found either of those lines waiting for me. Especially since I’m assuming that you both started and finished a Man’s Search for Meaning while in that security line. In which case I’d’ve found my meaning was at home, in bed;)

    Hope you’re enjoying France! (because you’ll never want to come home:b)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, and I thought things here were bad 😣 we got very lucky on our London trip last weekend, as the people who actually needed to go through security to get to their flight were taken out of the cue and guided through the fast lane. And we haven’t heard of any cancellations/changes for our other flights… though those seem to come in late.
    Dave also got very lucky when getting his Dutch passport. We heard stories on the news about it taking months, but the lady at the city hall showed us a way to book a quick appointment 😇

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, Dave is flying out on Tuesday and we are kinda stressing about it going smoothly. Apparently there are going to be farmers protesting and blocking the roads around the airport, cause it wasn’t hectic enough just yet…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. That is all so crazy. I’m extremely worried about all of this with our flight to Mexico in September. Trying to catch connecting flights when the line is big or the original plane is delayed is the most stressful thing. We had to run all the way across the Miami airport in March because of flight arrived late and they ended up changing our gate that day to one super far. It was a mess. I hope the rest of your vacation goes well.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I thought I’ve become patient throughout the years, but I’m not sure if I would be able to go through with all this (probably would because canceling would be worse)… Absolutely nightmarish. Glad you made it through it all!

    Liked by 1 person

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