Earlier this year, I took a quick trip to Costa Rica. During boarding in Houston (IAH), the gate agent performed a secondary check on all passenger documents. She looked at my passport and stated, ‘sir, do not forget that your passport is about to expire’. My response (not the correct one), ‘got it’ and I proceeded down the jet bridge to the aircraft. I knew that my passport would expire in December and that a U.S. passport only needs to be valid for the duration of the stay in Costa Rica.
Fast forward to late last week. The flight deal to Southeast Asia went hot and I tried to book it for early September. One problem: my passport was not valid for six months (!!!). My procrastination had gotten the best of me. So instead of taking the trip and qualifying for United Premier Platinum in September, I had to book the trip for November (at least the trip will occur near my birthday). I lost two months of United benefits because I was not proactive in renewing my passport.
My advice to any passport holder, renew your passport seven or eight months before the expiration so that you do not have any travel delays. If you choose the route that I did, you will have to waste more time and money to have your new passport expedited.