Thanks AoR. Quite right. Indeed, I was recently surprised – shocked – when my passport was nicked on a visit to Guatemala. The ambassador herself (charming and impressively good at what she does) said that her embassy consular section could no longer issue a replacement. That I had to apply to …. wait for it … Washington DC instead. And that would take some unconscionable number of days which I no longer remember (brain blocking out the pain, no doubt). The only other option available from the local embassy was a one-way travel document to London to apply there (I was booked to Madrid from Guatemala!). Luckily, the passport was found later that day discarded in the street (unlike the money, cards. camera, phone, iPod etc etc), so in the event, passport crisis over. But a frustrating new policy both for travellers and for embassy staff.
That’s not why I want a second passport as it happens. But if I had had one (not in the same bag of course!) it would have been pretty handy.