The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul


There Might Be Some Good Deals for Springtime in Paris This Year.....

If you live in a more touristy part of the country, be prepared to hear slightly less French over the next few weeks, if not months.

The French government has been unable to issue passports to its citizens that meet the US standards, effective 26 October, 2005, and probably won't manage to do it for the next three months or so. All passports issued after that date require a digital photograph. Passports issued after 26 October, 2006 will also require a microchip.

If the issuing nation does not meet the digital photo/microchip standards, travelers from those countries need to obtain a visa prior to visiting America. French travelers, long used to not having to get a visa, now have to apply for one at the extremely busy consulates. (Good luck trying to get an appointment....they're booked up until June.)

Another eeeeeevvvviillll Bush plot? Not exactly. Britain has been issuing digital photograph passports since 2003, and is on track to issue new ones with microchips this fall.

The French government, meanwhile, didn't get their butts in gear until last spring. Then, since the contract for printing the passports was issued to a private firm, the Imprimerie Nationale (the state-owned printer) took the government to court and tied it up in a lawsuit for eight months. The Imprimerie Nationale now has the contract to print them, but is not expected to actually have any good to go for another month.

So...what does that mean for denizens of the Jet Set Lounge?

Be on the lookout for some possible good deals, naturalment! Travel between France and the US is expected to dip as passengers either delay their vacations until they have proper documentation or cancel it altogether. Almost 300,000 of the normal 800,000 French visitors to America may be affected, because either they or someone they will travel with now needs a visa to comply with the new regulations. French travel agents say that bookings are already down 30%.

If you have always wanted to go to Paris but were looking for a great deal, this may be the year your friends get to tell you Bon Voyage!!


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