VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Local passport offices are facing major backlogs as the easing of pandemic restrictions releases pent-up demand for international travel.
In places like Westwood, hundreds of people on Friday were lining up around the federal building, starting early in the morning, to try to get their passports approved or renewed.
And in Van Nuys this weekend, the postmaster set up a special passport fair to help people who were having trouble getting appointments.
The Van Nuys event was open to the first 500 people who showed up. No appointment was necessary, but patience was key. Many showed up hours before the office even opened.
Marta Escobar of Van Nuys said she showed up to wait around 1 a.m. And she wasn't even the first in line.
"I'm trying to get the passport for my kids," she said. "I was trying to make the appointment online but I can't. I can't. We got here at 1, 1:30am."
The U.S. State Department closed many of its offices during the lockdown last year in an effort to keep employees safe. But that created a backlog.
The State Department now says it could take up to 18 weeks to get a routine passport from the day the application is submitted.
That's created a panic among those looking to travel soon. People who tried to make appointments said there weren't any available slots untli mid-August.
And that's exactly why this Van Nuys event for walk-ins may be the first like this one but it likely won't be the last one.