Passport backlog causes trouble for more than 2 million travelers

A passport backlog is wreaking havoc on travel plans with more than two million passport applications waiting to be processed.

Average wait times are 12 to 18 weeks and people are struggling to get expedited services.

A Montgomery County family who’s a week out from a big trip has no idea if they’ll get on the plane or not.

Farah Siddiqui and her family are ready to go, except for 13-month-old Irhaburney.

Siddiqui says first, her daughter’s birth certificate got delayed. Siddiqui says when they finally got it 5 weeks ago, they immediately got a passport appointment and paid to expedite it.

"I still haven’t gotten it. Every time we call they say, ‘There’s nothing we can do,’" said Siddiqui. "A lot of the representatives are rude and they’re probably tired of the same questions. One person told me, ‘there are 300 people like you and there’s nothing else I can tell you.’"

It’s happening all across the country as the U.S. Department of State struggles with a staffing shortage.

In Los Angeles, people are camping overnight outside the passport office, including a woman who was supposed to be on a plane out of the country the next day.

People can request assistance from their member of Congress.

A Baltimore couple went to Rep. Kweisi Mfume and his staffer immediately got to work

"It really just took almost a day-and-a-half and she worked some crazy magic," said Patrick Thomann. "I don’t know what she did."

Thomann and Vonecia Earley were about to miss their trip to Mexico last month when Thomann’s passport hadn’t arrived.

"Literally the day before our trip, we received his passport," said Earley.

They will forever remember the last-minute help they received because they got engaged on the trip!

"I had no idea this was his intent for the trip at all, so it was just a godsend that it was able to work out the way it did," said Earley.

Siddiqui has also recently reached out to her members of Congress. She’s hoping for the best, but if the passport isn’t going to make it, she’d rather know now.

"It’s just the ping pong of will we get it or not? I just want somebody to answer the phone and say, ‘Hey, you know what, cancel everything, go back to work,’" she said.

On Wednesday the State Department provided a statement saying in part:

"To address these long wait times, we are surging staff at our passport agencies and centers across the country.  We expect to be back to 97% of our workforce by mid-August. We anticipate this will allow us to process an additional 100,000 applications per month.  

Until we are able to ramp back up, the wait time will remain 12-18 weeks for a new passport or a renewal. For individuals with passports expiring within one year, we encourage you to apply now by mail if you can, or at an acceptance facility like a post office or a library."