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Desperate Tri-State Area Travelers Facing Incredibly Long Odds Getting Passport Renewals In Time For Upcoming Trips

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- More than 1 million passports are pending in swamped offices across the country.

Travelers are booking post-pandemic trips and passports need renewals.

Some desperate travelers thought allowing three to six months processing time would be enough. But it turns out they were wrong, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday.

Denise Grueneberg is a nursing supervisor at NYU Langone and just worked through the toughest year of her life, but COVID-19 consequences are still with her.

Her passport renewal application was submitted May 1.

"It is languishing somewhere in New Hampshire, and I'm still waiting," Grueneberg said.

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Grueneberg and her Stewart Manor family booked July 30 for a Caribbean trip. Two of her daughters are also nurses and finally they all got a post-pandemic week off at the same time. But it looks like Denise will not be able to join them.

"I've been trying to get appointments at New York, Connecticut. I would be willing to drive to D.C., Philly, Boston," she said.

Panicked people like Grueneberg line up each day at New York's passport agency on Hudson Street, where there just isn't enough staffing.

"I have been trying to get my passport for the last three months. I'm getting married on Friday and supposed to fly out Saturday for my honeymoon," passport victim Darryl Jenkins said.

"For the last six months I have been trying to get my passport renewed. I've been calling, texting, emailing, carrier pigeon, Bat signaling, you name it," Kayla Stewart added.

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The Talavera's passports expire in three months. They were not allowed to board the plane.

"My daughter in sick in Switzerland. I can't get there," Al Talavera said.

Congresswoman Kathleen Rice's office is besieged with new complaints of passport appointments bought and sold. Rice and a bipartisan group of lawmakers immediately contacted the State Department.

"It is absolutely outrageous that private passport courier services are being allowed to reserve appointments from the passport office in large blocks and then they turn around and sell them," Rice said.

Some are going for $450. The State Department promised to increase staffing with 130 new hires.

The State Department says anyone with a life-or-death emergency can make contact to get an immediate passport.

The agency claims to offer a limited number of in-person appointments for travel within three days of a trip. Facebook groups are challenging this.

"My last, I guess, option, is to drive to Vermont, the only East Coast location I believe that is taking walk-ins," Grueneberg said.

The State Department says it is urging travelers to plan ahead, and added it is continuing to move towards resuming normal operations.

Until then, it is urging the public to apply well before any scheduled travel.

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