Thankfully, this awful experience didn't happen to either of us. But we have taken it as a cautionary tale ever since Kay's sister related her story to me.
Suzanne was booked on a trip with Overseas Adventure Travel that began at JFK. She had been happily anticipating the vacation for many months. Her plan was to drive into the city from Syracuse and leave the car at the airport. All went well and she made good time.
Then it was to time to check in with the airline and proceed through security to board the plane. She presented her e-ticket and passport to the airline agent and was disbelieving when that lady said she would not be able to fly using this passport since the picture was obviously not her!
How on earth could that be? She had travelled using her passport multiple times and never had a problem. Totally nonplussed she asked if the passport expiration date had been reached. No, that is not the problem said the agent.
Simply stated, she replied, "This passport does not belong to you!"
In total disbelief, Suzanne took the offending document from the agent and looked at it! Her eyes widened in horror as the truth instantly dawned on her. A couple of weekends before this trip she went with friends to Montreal by car. When the four friends crossed the border and were checked back into the USA, the border agent handed all the passports back to the driver. Everyone took a passport and put it away.
Suzanne had put hers back in its usual place at home and NEVER looked at it again until that fateful day when she was told that the passport could not possibly be hers. She stared at the picture and saw her friend Dave's face looking back at her. Of course now the mixup was clear. No one had checked which passport they got back at the Canadian border.
The nightmare ended only a day and a half later. She had to drive back to Syracuse (four hours), to exchange passports with Dave. She then immediately turned around and drove back to JFK and spent the night at a nearby hotel. She was able to board the next day's flight and met up with her group after having missed a full day of her trip! What a horrible and stressful experience to be sure.
MORAL OF THE STORY: As a consequence of this story, we stop dead still at our home's front door as we're about to depart on a trip and check our passports and boarding passes! Can't leave home without them!
No one should ever have to duplicate Suzanne's miserable experience!