Aussies desperate to head overseas but with no time to stand in line at the passport office have resorted to forking out hundreds of dollars to get someone else to queue for them.
The wait time for a passport currently sits between eight and 12 weeks, despite the Australian Passport Office officially advising applicants should allow up to six weeks for their application to be finalised.
Chaos at Australia’s passport offices has featured heavily in the news recently as frantic travellers with flights quickly approaching started to queue outside the buildings in the early hours of the morning.
But not every Australian has the luxury of being able to stand in passport lines for hours on end, with some turning to strangers to help them have their case heard.
Airtasker, a popular website where people can offer any type of service for a fee, has been inundated with requests to wait in the passport office line.
While some Airtaskers are generously offering to stand in the queue for a measly $50, others are asking up to $400 for the services.
People pictured queuing at Sydney’s passport office, where wait times often exceed five to six hours
With the extended wait times, many individuals are outsourcing queueing to people on Airtasker, paying them upwards of $200 to hold their spot in line
Daniel Ketchley, 22, has already completed multiple passport waiting jobs this week and while he admitted the queues were long, even from the start of the week to now the process has improved.
‘I started my week doing two on Monday and the queues were down the street and snaking around the corner. The facility was understaffed and no one had a clue,’ he said.
‘Now they have added more staff and it is more structured. From Monday to today it has come a long way in regards to the way they structure the lines.’
Mr Ketchley, who has waited at the Australia Passport Office in Docklands, Melbourne throughout this week said it was crucial to arrive around 5am if you don’t want to be waiting all day.
Victorian university student Daniel Ketchley said he checks for people after queue waiters each night and makes more than $150 for queuing in passport office lines
‘There is such a difference in getting there as early as possible and there is a huge difference between getting there at 5am to 6am,’ he said.
‘I got there at 5.15am today and was 58th in the queue. Yesterday I arrived at 6am and I was more than 200 people back.’
Mr Ketchley and other Airtaskers provide regular updates to the person they are queuing for, sending messages every hour to keep them in the loop before they give the person an hour warning before they’re at the front of the line.
Once they are, they replace the Airtasker, who then ticks off the job as completed and Airtasker releases their payment.
Mr Ketchley said the building officially opens at 8.30am but the last couple of days they have opened more than an hour early to help get people inside and keep the queue moving.
Once inside, Mr Ketchley said the line was divided into a pick up line and an enquiries line, with the enquiries line being a five-hour wait and the pick-up line taking three hours to get through.
Popular Airtasker Daniel Ketchley says to make sure to get there as early as possible to shorten wait times. He has completed many waiting jobs since Monday this week and says the process is improving
Many jobs are posted to wait in passport lines each day with Friday’s listings ranging from $50 to $400.
But Mr Ketchley warned those who arrive at 7am or 8am have almost no chance to get in and out before lunch and those who arrive after 10am often find themselves turned away when the passport office cuts off new people at 4pm.
Mr Ketchley said his key tips to wait for the shortest time possible was to get there at 5am or as early as possible.
Parents with young children were also rushed through.
Each afternoon, Mr Ketchley checks the listings for passport-hopefuls, with most people offering north of $200 to wait in line.
Considering Airtasker takes around 20 per cent of the fee for newer users, the rate per hour isn’t quite as ludicrous as it seems.
With hundreds of new staff fast-tracked into passport offices, Mr Ketchley said he didn’t see his line of work lasting too long.
But he was happy in the meantime collecting around $150 for each queue, where he said he can catch up on the movies and TV shows on his watch later list.
And, as a university student, he also uses the queue time to make money while he studies.