Yesterday I've faced an unusual conundrum: for some asinine reason United won't let you check in online unless you download their app and take a photo of your passport. Supposedly they use the photo to verify your visa status. However my problem is that my passport is extended, which means there's two pages you need to check to verify the passport validity, so the app refuses to let me check in online as it only uploads one photo.

Is there a way to circumvent the apps restrictions and check in online in my scenario?

  • 3
    My strong suspicion is that you'll have to check in at the airport. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 2 '18 at 2:26
  • @JimMacKenzie yes, that what I did, but I like to arrive at the last minute (if I have hand luggage) instead of bothering with physical check in. E.g. today's flight was delayed by 1 hour so I could've arrived 1 hour later if I didn't need to check in at the counter. – JonathanReez Mar 2 '18 at 2:57
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    There is a separate United.com support desk you can contact specifically for technical issues like this (in my experience, they can be slow to respond, but they're more knowledgeable about technical details than the normal customer service channels), but I suspect online check-in may simply be impossible here. United uses the photo as a substitute for agents checking your documents, so the system is pretty picky about accepting only the "easy cases" it can validate so they can avoid fines. – Zach Lipton Mar 2 '18 at 3:19
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    Be prepared for them to respond that you have an edge case they have decided not to cover. Meaning, it's not how many people might have extended passports, it's that there are too few of them to justify the additional complexity in the app. – Johns-305 Mar 2 '18 at 13:07
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    @JonathanReez be careful of your strategy of arriving late for flights that have been announced as delayed. If the airline decides to have the plane leave on time after all (they get a new crew in, find an engine, etc) and board, you’ll be declared a no-show. Similarly, if the flight is cancelled, you’ll arrive at the back of a long line of disgruntled customers and might be last to get a rare hotel or meal coupon. – RoboKaren Jul 7 '18 at 4:46

It's impossible to check-in for the flight with such a passport, unless you manipulate your passport photo somehow. However on the way back the app let me check-in without issues, so hopefully they now have my current passport details in their database.

  • "so hopefully they now have my current passport details in their database." This likely won't help you on your next checkin. – npl Jul 22 '18 at 22:00
  • After doing that process once on United, I haven't been asked to upload passport photos on several subsequent check-ins. – ajd Jul 23 '18 at 6:09

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