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B.C. woman bypasses local passport lines by flying to Edmonton

With Service Canada working through a massive backlog of passport applications, some people have gone to great lengths to secure their travel documents – including a B.C. woman who recently resorted to flying into another province.

She also documented her journey to Alberta on TikTok under the username Two Food Piggies, boasting that she was able to get her lost passport replaced "in about 2.5 hours."

"The flight was a bit delayed and there was rain in Edmonton, however the smooth sailing at the passport office definitely made things easier," she said in one video. "I came in at 1:30 and walked out with my passport at 3:55. Success!"

Speaking to CTV News, the TikTok user, who asked to be referred to as Whitney B., said she spent weeks trying to secure an appointment at a passport office in Metro Vancouver before finally deciding to board a plane last Friday – less than two weeks before her planned trip to Las Vegas.

"There was nothing in the Vancouver, Richmond or Surrey offices. I kept looking back and refreshing the page – the only (appointment) I was able to find was in Victoria in August, but my trip is next week so that wouldn't have worked," said Whitney.

Some desperate would-be travellers have been lining up at passport offices overnight to avoid having to cancel their vacations. Whitney said she considered paying someone to wait in line for her – a service that can run several hundred dollars – until she decided to try searching out of province, and spotted an open appointment the following day in Edmonton.

She then managed to book a round-trip flight on a discount airline for $87, and away she went.

"I consider myself really lucky that I was able to get it the same day," Whitney added, noting there was no guarantee she would have been able to receive her passport before flying back to Vancouver on Monday.

The federal government has said it's working to address ongoing delays in obtaining passports, but has not been able to provide a timeline for when it will catch up with the increased demand.

According to Service Canada, there were 261,000 passport applications received in April, compared to 69,000 during the same month last year.

There was a lull in applications during the first year of the pandemic, when the government received just 363,000 – but the number jumped to 1.27 million from April 2021 until March 2022, as people felt more comfortable travelling and more restrictions were relaxed in Canada and abroad.

Earlier this month, Service Canada said it had hired 600 new employees in 2022 to keep up with the surge in demand.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Sarah Turnbull Top Stories

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