Hi, I'm in a tricky situation regarding a flight from Portland, Oregon to London Heathrow (then a connecting flight or train to Scotland) and a return to Portland via Vancouver, Canada. I'm posting on behalf of an American friend who is in the process of applying for a US passport book which he will not receive for about another 4 weeks. The trip is for vacation purposes and would take place in January for 2 weeks. My question/s are: is it possible to book flights without a passport at the time (he would like to book this week for cost purposes) and secondly, what visa would he need in order to take this vacation to the UK (including England and Scotland) and then back again via Heathrow - Canada - Oregon. Should the entry to Canada be of concern even if it is a connecting flight? Thank you for any answers, I realise this is slightly venturing from the forums primary topic in question.
He can book his airline ticket without his passport number and does not need a visa for this trip. He will, of course, need the passport when he gets to the airport.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland allows holders of US passports visa free visits of six months depending on financial support so your friend should have no problem. Airlines will sell tickets based on your ability to pay. Travel depends on the possession of the right documents on date of travel and duration of travel.
I cannot answer for Canada, but if the friend is a US citizen, I cannot see any problem of them remaining airside in Canada with out a visa on a connecting flight.
It is possible to book flights without having a passport, but the airlines I've traveled internationally with in the past have all required that at some point before you leave (at least 24-48 hours prior to check in) you must log in to your reservation and plug in your passport number. I'm not sure if this is true for all airlines, but that has been my experience. If this is the case for your friend, he could simply go online once he has his passport, look up his reservation and plug in his passport number at that time. It is easy to do.
It really is taking only two weeks to get the expedited passport. I paid for the extra shipping--<$200 overall and the passport came right when they said it would. So, if the American had applied for the passport on 9/26, it could be in the mailbox by a week from Monday.
No visa required. If your friend's itinerary is booked as one ticket, with a connection in Vancouver to Portland, he will even clear US customs in Vancouver.
My daughter did something similar a couple of years back. Her flight into Vancouver was delayed, so they ended up sitting airside for the next Alaska/Horizon flight with seats available, but other than that it was no big deal.