Check-in: The passport waiting game, when to buy cancellation for any reason insurance and more

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focused on all things travel.

Processing time for a US passport takes longer than usual

Check your passport — if it’s expiring in the next six months and you want to travel abroad this summer, send it in for renewal now.

The State Department said there was “unprecedented demand” for new passports and renewals, with requests up 30 to 40 percent compared to this time last year. As of March 24, wait times are 10 to 13 weeks for standard processing and 7 to 9 weeks for expedited processing. This does not include the time it takes to send your application to a passport acceptance centre.

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Most countries only allow entry if the passport has six months of validity remaining, and some airlines flying to these destinations have blocked boarding of passengers who do not meet these requirements.

Flight attendants want to ban babies from sitting on laps

When it comes to the safety of their littlest passengers, flight attendants don’t mess around.

Currently, children under the age of 2 are allowed to sit on their parents’ laps on the plane for free. That’s dangerous, said Sarah Nelson, international president of the Flight Attendants Association-CWA The Washington Post. “We’ve recently seen airplanes go through turbulence and fall from 4,000 feet in a split second,” she said. “G-forces are not something that even the most loving mother or father can protect and hold their child against. It’s just physically impossible.”

The FAA reauthorization bill expires in September, and the union recommends changing the rules so that every passenger, regardless of age, has their own seat with a restraint. Nelson said the union has been fighting for this since 1989, when United Flight 232 made an emergency landing in Sioux City, Iowa. Parents holding babies in fields were told to wrap the children in blankets and lay them on the floor; three babies were injured and one died. “We need to have children safe on the plane and in their own seats with a proper restraint to make sure this never happens again,” Nelson said.

Ben Hoffman, president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told Publish that the safest thing parents can do is buy their child their own seat, then secure the child in an FAA-approved car seat. To offset the cost of this, Hoffman suggests that airlines offer discounted tickets for young children.

Considering Cancellation For Any Reason Insurance? Here are some things to keep in mind

When booking travel, in addition to basic travel insurance, travelers can choose to add cancellation for any reason insurance, also known as CFAR. But is it worth it? Stan Sandberg, co-founder of, said USA Today plan that the decision to purchase CFAR “comes down to the traveler’s level of concern about things that might interfere with travel that are not covered by a standard plan.”

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CFAR can only be purchased at the same time as a travel insurance plan, and although it allows you to cancel travel for any reason, this must still happen at least 48 hours before the departure date. How much you’ll be reimbursed for a canceled trip depends on your main travel insurance plan – if your reason for canceling is covered by that policy, you will get back 100 percent of your investment. If no covered by this plan, you’ll cancel under the CFAR and get 50 to 75 percent back. Megan Walch, product manager at InsureMyTrip, said Drawing that adding CFAR to a travel insurance policy can add another 40 to 60 percent to the cost of the base policy.

Experts say CFAR is a good option for people with health conditions that might prevent them from taking a trip, those worried about the spread of COVID-19, and anyone planning an expensive, non-refundable vacation . It’s definitely more expensive than regular travel insurance, “but if your trip is going to cost thousands of dollars, then getting comprehensive insurance is a no-brainer,” Matthew Kepnes, founder of the blog Nomadic Mattsaid Drawing.

Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar

The Santa Fe International Literary Festival attracts some big names, with this year’s featured authors including Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), John Irving (The world according to Garp), David Grann (The Lost City of Z), and Jennifer Egan (A visit from the Goon Squad). The event will be held May 19-21 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, and the schedule includes author readings and discussions, book signings and meditation sessions.

Enjoy the beauty of the night sky during Lake City Star Festival, from June 7 to 11. Lake City, Colo., is in Hinsdale County, which is known for its “extraordinary darkness,” event organizers said. The festival schedule includes the Dark Sky Summit for astronomy professionals, as well as events for amateur stargazers, such as the Celestial Celebration — a night of art, astrophotography and film — and plenty of opportunities to (safely!) view the sun through a solar telescope . The number of tickets is limited.

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