A blogging friend of mine Lola blogged about her dog “helping” her sled down a hill and right onto a stick which ripped her pants – her very favorite pants. The ones that she has never been able to find another pair of. You can read her story here. She’s fine – so now her readers are left to enjoy a pretty funny rendition of events. Her dog and her butt survived but her beloved blue jeans did not. So in her comments section, I suggested that maybe she needed a furry pair of jeans to replace her ripped jeans. She is sassy – she knows I was kidding. But, I am afraid the Cosmos were left completely unaware.
So the Cosmos and Karma joined together to conspire against me. I am sure it is because I made a little joke about a friend’s dog – there is no other reason on this planet that Wrinkle Number One in our plan to move to India makes any sense at all. So, I am adding “being nicer to the animals of others” to my new years resolutions list. In fact, I am moving “being healthier” to the number two spot. PETA watch out – I am going to out-love you on all things animal.
It went a little something like this…..
Hold on one minute – I am going to get myself a glass of wine to relax as I re-learn to breath. I would invite you to grab a cup of whatever it is you fancy. This is a long one.
Okay, now I am set and I am pretty sure I am breathing again – panting maybe – I put my wine in a water bowl just in case – I told you PETA watch out.
Number One Hubby left tonight for Delhi on a United Airlines flight. Yes, write that down – the airline not to use when flying your cats to India. United Airlines. Number One Hubby was taking two of our furry children with him. We arrived at the airport well outside of the requisite 2-hour time allowance to check in, kiss the furry ones goodbye, hug Dad – twice, and tearfully wave goodbye until we meet again in three weeks. Thank God we are timely folks because we spent well over an hour at the ticket counter. Can you guess what part of this did not happen?
And the winner loser is – the cats are not on the plane. I wish I could completely explain to you all of the pieces of the puzzle that did not fall into place but I am not absolutely clear on all of this myself. And, do not ask the first counter attendant, the second counter attendant, the counter attendant standing by watching, the supervisor (who is not a supervisor, but a manager – so sorry), or the actual supervisor who only makes ghost appearances via the telephone (think of the banker in Deal or No Deal – only minus the shadow and minus the million dollar potential – but annoying all the same). None of them can explain it either. Some of them did not even try.
We have had these pet reservations for weeks. Oh yes, United allowed us to book these pet reservations thru Dubai and on to Delhi. We called this very morning to confirm our said pet reservations and were given the okay – your pets are booked – two thumbs up. We have the right crates (well minus the holes on all four sides – that was easily fixed), we had the right bowls, the right paperwork, we thought we had done everything, well, right. WRONG.
First, there was a lot of discussion about whether the cats would be considered cargo or freight or baggage and whole lot of other stuff whispered that we were not (supposed to be) privy to. So, I won’t go into how nerve-racking that was for my three little children who were standing there listening to whether or not their cats would actually be allowed on the plane or if they would be strapped to a wing. Hey, they have fur coats, don’t they? I completely lost my sense of humor at this point.
The first problem is that this airline does not interline pets. WTH? Interline – English please. We are still in America right? Interlining pets apparently does not mean putting little skates on them and letting them figure it out on their own – that would have been funny. Welcome back sense of humor – but, oh no, not so fast. Interlining means that they do not transfer pets from one airline to another. Okay. So, number one hubby can go pick up the cats from United in Dubai and hand carry them over to the connecting flight for Delhi. Right? Oh silly you. That’s what I thought too. Nope.
Dubai does not accept live animals. Then why were we allowed to book live animals on a flight that goes to Delhi – oh yeah, via Dubai? Good question – still no answer to that one. Why were we allowed to confirm live animals on a flight that goes to Delhi – via Dubai – just this morning? Oh, you little pink panther you – another good question. No answer to that one either. Why do United regulations specify that each passenger can check two live pets with their ticket that goes to Delhi – say it with me – via Dubai? Oh you are really good – a criminal justice degree is certainly in your future.
Just as a side note – there was another couple standing right beside us with pet problems. Seems prevalent with United – at least tonight. And there was a United Representative going out of her way to help them. GASP. And I am not kidding when I say this – I really am not – she got written up for her (very helpful) actions. She helped the passengers – who were pleading with her for help – make their crates compliant. The couple had flown on United just a week before and several times before that with the very same crates that had passed inspection every single time. But tonight – well, they must have made fun of a friend’s dog too. Or they got caught in my wrath. So sorry.
But did you read that? She got written up for helping passengers follow United Airlines guidelines. Yes, my dear, something is very wrong with that. And now future passengers who are foolish enough to book their pets on United probably won’t be helped by her either. She is surely not going to want to lose her job in customer service just because she helps people get their furry family members on the same plane.
But, back to us and hold on a second, we thought we had progress. Ticket agent number one printed stickers for the cats. He was pulling them off the printer when the phone rang. And then he ripped them up. Huh? That’s what we said.
Circles – we danced all night in circles – no answers – not even one. Number One Hubby was actually on the phone with United Airlines in Delhi and they approved the cats – they had every intention of accepting the cats and were very willing to stand by that decision – if they could just be given the opportunity to do so. And still, somehow, the cats are still at home with me. The Delhi employee asked to speak with the United employees on our end. One spoke with him. Okay. Now what – she was looking for a supervisor. And, alas, we only had a manager who would not even answer our request to speak to him.
So the supervisor who is actually not a supervisor but a manager (I am so glad she could clear something up) was very happy to spell her first and last name for us – repeatedly – would not even come back to the counter until she thought we were gone. The first counter attendant became Houdini and disappeared completely – he could feel our pain but could apparently no longer bear to share it with us. But we fooled that manager/supervisor – we were still there – because we had a representative from United Airlines in Delhi – her sister station – asking why they wouldn’t put the cats on the plane. She would not speak to them. She had gotten an answer from another invisible banker-boss in Chicago. Oh, that makes perfect sense because no part of our journey involves Chicago. So, I could see why she would not speak to the person from Delhi – where the cats were (supposed to be) going. Nor would she even look at us. Except to spell her name for us – again. She was helping someone else now. But sweetheart, you aren’t done with us yet. You should really read my blog on Part B.
Okay – I have one (more) question. Was she (not) helping someone else get their pets on the plane? These pets are a part of our family. Period. We have children – we are not crazy pet people – I am not really going to out-love PETA. But I am standing in front of you with real children who love their animals very much and my furry children who are frankly scared out of their minds. Help me. Find a solution that works. Do not walk away as if you have no responsibility to resolve this. You work for United Airlines. Your little uniform and the whole standing behind the counter thing has completely given you away. You may call yourself a manager rather than a supervisor – but the front-line employees called you because they did not know what to do. Your banker-boss was in another building. Honestly. Do something.
I am not kidding when I say that none of the CUSTOMER SERVICE representatives we dealt with offered any solutions. They only told us what could not be done. We could not put our cats on that plane. Fine. Let’s work with that. Is there another plane we can put them on? Can we reschedule to not go through Dubai? Can you talk to India about this – WE have them on the phone for you. No need to even exhaust yourself dialing the phone. How about a little understanding? Compassion? Alternative thinking?
If I had to pick a worst moment of the night it would be when the first counter attendant tried to finally explain something to us. He actually said to us in front of our three young children that the reason they were trying to be so careful is that his computer has a note right here that says that animals arriving in Delhi might be destroyed. And he, in fact, has known this to actually happen. Yes, he did say that out loud. Angel knows what destroyed means – she’s only seven, so she doubted herself and asked me repeatedly what destroyed means, with very big tears in her eyes. I finally (thought fast) and explained they were talking about the paperwork. Guess who I won’t be nominating for employee of the year.
Here is the best part of the story. It seems that United in Delhi is very confused and a representative from United (and I believe he is actually a manager and a supervisor who admits to being both) plans to meet Number One Hubby when his plane lands in Delhi. But he won’t get to meet our cats, so this might fall under the “too little, too late, there are no actual cats with me” category.
I am so thankful that we had this little dry run. Honestly, I do not know what we might have done if we were all leaving at this time. Maybe Karma is not exactly conspiring against me but just showing me the ropes.
So, we kiss number one hubby goodbye, because he is now in serious threat of missing his flight, and we took the cats back to the car. The cats thanked us by pooping and passing gas all the way home. The kids were in stitches. I heard every elementary school bathroom joke on the planet. As if the night had not been entertaining enough.
There are implications that reach well beyond the tremendous stress that all of us experienced tonight. Changing our flights means changing a lot of things – the day the utilities are switched, the day the kids leave school, the day the kids start school, the day my husband flies home to help us, the stress level of our next trip has already quadrupled, all of the travel arrangements need to be rearranged – you see there is a ripple effect.
The kids are now in bed with cats curled up beside them. There are five (temporarily) happy hearts right now in this house. My heart is (barely) beating – but that is about it. Because in three weeks we have to try this all again and there will not be an exit plan. Five people are getting on a plane – there will be no one left to take the cats home – home is now in Delhi and those cats have to come with. So we have decided to vote with our wallets and are switching to American Airlines.
Notes – I reread this when I woke up this morning and then again just now. I wanted to make sure I did not exaggarate what happened out of frustration. I did not – in fact, I was quite gracious in my depiction of events. Yes, it was that bad. And I want to be clear that Number One Hubby and I did not yell – we did not make a scene – we were certainly frustrated but we were adults about it. Paying. Customer. Adults.