Saturday, September 1, 2007

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been!

One word: EXHAUSTED! It took us weeks to get plane tickets for two humans and two cats on the same flight. For some reason, it was incredibly difficult to get United Airlines phone agents to understand the concept that we wanted to fly the cats in the cabin with us, all on the same flight. I must have called around 10 different times to make corrections to our email confirmations. Not once did they ever show a "reservation" for the cats, which they should have. I finally had to go to a ticket agent AT THE AIRPORT to get the correct confirmation for our flight. Customer service woes.

Not all airlines allow animals in the cabin, but United does--only on certain aircraft, and each aircraft has a limit to the number of animals allowed on board, usually one or two.

We also had more suitcases and packages than we anticipated since we're moving out of state, so with 5 check-in bags, two carry-on bags (laptops, and kitty supplies) and two cats, I'm sure we were an eyeful at the airport.

The security line was another hurdle. Several airport security agents checked our tickets and IDs, and no matter how many times we asked each of them how to put our cats through security (no X-ray machines, thanks), we just received blank stares. So we get to the security check and they freak out and tell us we have to take the cats out of their bags and walk them through the metal detector with us. Right. And the airport gets two more stray cats to chase mice for them.

After debating with them and holding up the entire security line for several more minutes (everyone was incredibly understanding), the more attentive TSA agents gave us a private screening in a special area behind a curtain. I felt like we were about to perform magic tricks, except we were pulling cats out of bags instead of rabbits out of hats....

One of the TSA agents looked horrified of the cats, which was amusing since ours are so gentle--they've never scratched or bitten anyone while we've had them. She told me she'd seen some agents badly scratched in the face during these special screenings, but once we pulled Max out of his bag, she was immediately disarmed. Who wouldn't be?

Finally through security, we embarked on our 6-hour journey from SFO to ABQ (including waiting in the gate area, layovers, etc.). I think we all aged a few years, but once we arrived during a glorious New Mexico sunset, we felt relieved. We finally felt at home.

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