Travellers face 30-hour waits at Vancouver passport office

Frustration is growing across the country as would-be travellers face long waits to renew their passports.

In Vancouver, dozens of people camped outside the Service Canada office overnight in an attempt to save their travel plans.

However, some people are now coming up with ways to cheat the system.

Those who’ve been stuck waiting tell CTV News the system is flawed because it’s not first come, first served.

Travellers with flights in the next 12 hours are being moved to the front of line.

Angela Sourial waited more than 30 hours for her turn.

She’s already missed one flight and was at risk of missing another.

“Inside, it's super organized, like when they line you up,” she told CTV News. “But to actually get inside to talk to someone, it takes ages and you have to have a flight in like a few hours to actually get anything done – and even then, it's rare.”

She and her grandmother braved the cold and wet weather to secure her spot in line.

They’re not alone either – dozens of people camped out overnight outside Sinclair Centre in folding chairs and bundled up in blankets.

Tucker Reed, a student from Squamish, said he had been waiting for well over 24 hours.

“Definitely over 24, probably close to 30,” said Reed.

It was his third attempt to renew his passport for a trip to Los Angeles.

“I slept on the ground for like three hours this morning,” he told CTV News at 5 a.m. while bundled up in a toque and blanket.

While some had anticipated a long wait, they weren’t expecting to have to campout.

“We knew that lines are really long and people were lining up for hours, but not overnight,” said Angela Luu, who is hoping to travel to Vietnam with her family.

Kerry Maquire is at risk of missing her honeymoon in Italy.

“I unfortunately was about to go to the airport and I couldn't find my passport. So I am hoping to get a new one ASAP,” she said.

“I am more frustrated with myself than I am with the situation. You know what I mean? So I think that it's partially on me,” she admitted.

Service Canada says the surging interest in travel is creating the long line ups.

It’s urging people to book an appointment online.

That can mean waiting for more than a month. As of Tuesday most offices in Metro Vancouver had no openings for at least 25 days.

As a result, ads offering “line waiting services” are popping up online.

The going rate appears to be anywhere from $40 to $70 an hour.

CTV News has reached out to Employment and Social Development Canada, which is responsible for passport services, for comment but has yet to hear back.

Some people have become so desperate, they told CTV News they’re now booking cheap flights within the next 12 hours to try and get to the front of the line.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Mary Cranston, Shelley Moore, and Andrew Weichel