Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flying Catastrophe, Drama, Chaos

Well we were supposed to fly to Germany today, but as you can tell from the title of the post there were all sorts of issues this morning. Here's a little recap then let me know what you think.

We are of course moving with our two cats Mo and Myles, and the dog, Maggie, is tentatively scheduled to be shipped later this spring after we get settled. Shantel has been super paranoid about flying with the cats, calling the airlines immediately after we got our tickets, scheduling vet appointments within a ten day window of flying, She called the airline 2 days before the flight to ensure that the cats were still on the manifest, finding out that only one of them was and that the airline only allowed 1 pet in the cabin and only 1 pet in the cargo hold. Still not comfortable she went to the airport ticket counter with one of the pet carrier and the day before we flew and talked to a ticket agent who informed her that the pet carrier would work for the cabin but not for the cargo hold. No one ever mentioned that pets would not be allowed in the cargo hold if the temp was under 45 degrees, keeping in mind that when Shantel went to the ticket counter at KCI the current outside temp was -4 degrees. We just thought that maybe United, our airline, didn't have a policy like that.

Fast forward to flying day. Macen is going nuts saying "We are going to airport, Yeaaaaaa!" "I'm moving to Jersanny". He just can't quite say Germany and it's funny to hear him say Jersanny. We turn in the rental car and get in the check in line at about 8:40 am a full three hours before our flight and the line moves really slow. We have our 7 pieces of luggage for the three of us, Shantel and Macen each have two carry ons and I have one. We also have one cat in a carry on kennel and one cat in a slightly larger kennel and the car seat for Macen. We truly look like the Beverly Hillbillies. Not to mention our entourage, My mom and step dad, Shantel's sister and her family (3 kids), Shantel's mom and the twins Mariah and Jeremiah.

We finally make our way to counter and I dutifully inform the ticket agent that I'm about to make his day. He laughs and says go ahead. I immediately let him know that we did have two cats and OK no problem, lets start with the luggage. No issues there, then we start with the cats. 1st issue, there is some kind of embargo on pets flying to London, so the ticket agent spends time finding out if there is a similiar one to Germany. Nope no embargo to Germany. Myles the Carry On Cat is good. Time to start on Mo the Cargo Cat. Uh oh the weather has warmed up to a balmy 15 degrees and the airline now says that Mo the Cargo Cat can't go in the hold and Myles is the ONLY cat who can be a Carry On Cat. Now what do we do.

Well first thing we have to do is deal with a grouchy Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, in uniform, who thinks he's going to miss his flight. Insert funny Air Force sleeping in while the Army gets up early joke here. Sorry mister Air Force Lieutenant Colonel you are just going to have to wait until the lowly Army Major and his family gets all of their issues ironed out.

We check for flights to Germany later in the day, Nope nothing. How about flights on Monday, one person can get to DC on Monday, but not to Frankfurt. Tuesday same story, flights to Denver and Chicago but nothing from there to Germany. Wednesday is the earliest one person can go. Looks like Shantel just volunteered to take Macen, and Myles the Carry On Cat all by herself from Kansas City to Frankfurt. So that's what we did.

Now we are trying to get Shantel, Macen, Myles the Carry On Cat, and the car seat through TSA security. Hold on the United Check N Go lady interferes "No hard sided pet carriers". What the ticket agent guy said nothing about that and he put a baggage tag on the hard sided pet carrier to show that Myles the Carry On Cat had paid $200 (Thanks to James' credit card) for his right to be the ONLY Carry On Cat. Finally it's decided small hard sided pet carrier like Myles the Carry On Cat owns is just fine. Then a super friendly TSA agent (Yes they are out there) helps Shantel, Macen, Myles the Carry On Cat and the assorted accouterments through the security process.

Of course since I wasn't flying the airline had to take three of the bags off the airline and of course I didn't get my bags and Shantel was stuck with all three of the 50+ lb bags.

Last we heard Shantel and Macen had landed in DC and were trying to make their flight to Frankfurt. As of 7pm CST Shantel's cell phone is going direct to voice mail so I can only assume that she is safely winging it across the Atlantic.

Before we left the airport I called some friends of ours who are now stationed just outside Frankfurt and asked them to check in on Shantel and Macen when they arrive in Frankfurt. Emilie, the wife who is actually from Denmark, will meet her at the airport so she'll be in good hands when she gets there.

Instead of imposing any more on my in-laws I headed to Columbia with my mom and step dad. Upon arrival in Columbia I frantically got on the internet and looked for alternate flights to Frankfurt. Most of those flights are running $3000 or more for the next couple of days the cheapest being an Air India flight from St Louis for $900 or a British Airways flight from Atlanta for $1200. I could drive and make either one of them, believe it or not, but the British Airways flight makes a stop in London, and the UK requires pets to have a pet passport or something similiar to land and of course you can't get one in less than 24 hours and the Air India flight seems a little shady to me, so I won't press my luck and just go with my Wednesday flight.

Luckily for me my actual report date is not until the 15th so I do have some leeway, but at this rate I'm going to use it all up.


James said...

Did I mention that it was snowing when Shantel and Macen left on top of everything else. KC got anywhere from 3-5 inches Sunday. Shantel swore up and down that there would be a snowstorm as we tried to leave. As usual she was right

Shantel said...

When it comes to snow and us moving, I will always be right :) That stuff follows me around just because it knows I don't like it.

Anonymous said...

OMGoodness!! Y'all must be cat-lovingest people evah!

What about space-available military flights? Don't they have those anymore? Used to be called MAC.

I flew Air India once - between NY and London, 1973. Not much of a reference.

I was so glad to see your banner come up when I clicked under the blog-her ad. So today is Thurs - are you there yet, James? Better go to your 'home' to see if you have posted again.


Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Cats, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.