TRAVEL Q& A

Passport Pages On the Go

By Anne McDonough
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 9, 2007

Q I need extra pages in my passport and will be leaving soon. Can I get them at any American Embassy overseas? I'm afraid that if I mail mine off, I may not get it back in time.

Kathleen Janoski

Pittsburgh

A You're in luck. According to State Department spokesman Steve Royster, "Travelers can get additional passport pages at U.S. embassies and consulates overseas."

Whether in the States or abroad, the service is free. You'll need to fill out form DS-4085 ( http://travel.state.gov/pdf/ds-4085.pdf), though there are portions that don't need to be filled out while applying abroad. For info on procedures in most cities, go to the respective embassy's or consulate's Web site; click on "U.S. Citizen Services," and then "Passport." You can find a list of embassy contacts via the consular information sheets at http://travel.state.gov.

The level of information offered varies. For example, the Web site for the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong ( http://hongkong.usconsulate.gov/acs_supplement.html) notes that all services are by appointment only (you can make one online), but "barring any unusual circumstances, we can usually add pages to your passport in about an hour, while you wait."

On the other hand, the Web site of the U.S. Embassy in London rather ominously states that "an application for extra pages will be processed by our office and will take up to five working days." However, that's for mail-in applications. M. Andr? Goodfriend, London chief of American Citizen Services, said in an e-mail that "if a U.S. citizen needs to have pages added to a passport urgently because of imminent travel, they may come to the embassy in person. We ask that they schedule an emergency appointment at the following link: http://https://evisaforms.state.gov/acs/default.asp?postcode=LND&appcode=1.

"If, however, they can't make an online appointment, they may still come to the embassy and apply for the extra pages in person, even without an appointment, as long as they are able to show that they have imminent travel plans. Once they have submitted their application for extra pages, they should have their passport back, with the extra pages added, in less than an hour."

Before your trip, contact the embassy at your destination to check on its procedure. Then weigh that information against the fact that if you do arrange for extra pages in your passport before you depart, expedited service will cost you $60 plus two-way delivery service (see http://travel.state.gov/passport/fri/add/add_850.html for more details).

When it comes time to renew your passport, you can request extra pages at the same time for free.

I often fly business class on United, Lufthansa and Asiana, American, US Airways and Northwest. Only the international business-class flights have cloth napkins with buttonholes in them. Can you explain why?

Harley Holt Reston

Perhaps because on shorter flights, you have less time to think about such details? Meaning, in short, well, no, we can't explain it. But we had fun trying to find out.

"The current napkin with buttonhole provides the obvious advantages of more securely protecting the front of the shirt rather than relying on the traditional -- and less secure -- tuck inside the shirt collar," Northwest Airlines spokesman Jim Herlihy said in an e-mail. "For the business traveler, who could be headed directly into a meeting upon arrival, that security could prevent an awkward moment later in the day." Northwest uses these napkins in its World Business Class, which is international. But, he says, "we don't have an apples-to-apples comparison. We don't have a domestic business class."

Lufthansa spokeswoman Jennifer Urbaniak said in an e-mail that the airline "offers cloth [linen] napkins with buttonholes in first and business class on international long-haul flights . . . We do offer meal services in all classes on European routes, however these flights are much shorter . . . and therefore a disposable paper napkin [sans buttonhole] is currently offered." That seems to hold up the hypothesis of shorter flight, less formal napkin.

According to United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski, the airline had phased out buttonholes altogether, but "we've recently learned that our customers want their linens with buttonholes back. Later this year all business and first-class customers will have white linens with buttonholes to help keep their clothes fresh and clean."

A new product may come of your curiosity: According to Urbaniak, Lufthansa's "product management team was intrigued . . . and will look into the possibility of including a buttonhole option also for the paper napkins."

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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