I love my dog. He is the sweetest, most gentle, snuggly little guy on the planet. He is also the biggest freaking headache in the history of moving. If he weren’t so damn cute and loving, I would leave him behind with a nice family like my sister’s, because she has already offered to poach – er – take him in. I note that she has not offered to take in the DiploKids.
The Saga of the Dog began way back in April, when we started collecting information on shipping the dog to Mumbai. It seemed relatively straightforward: visit vet for pre-appointment and discuss logistics and final appointment; engage pet expeditor; gather ID documents and send to expeditor; make reservations on airline; go to vet within 10 days of landing in Mumbai; go to USDA to get export certificate; FLY. We visited the vet. I emailed the USDA (they never responded, this seems to be very common). We made the final vet appointment.
Flying to Mumbai is a LONG haul. Looking at U.S. carrier routes, we figured that we could fly through Amsterdam, take an authorized rest day plus an extra day, visit some friends, go see the van Gogh Museum, do a canal tour, eat Indonesian food and Gouda, and visit the Anne Frank Huis. Made plans. Reservations at a hotel. Really, really excited!
Turns out, some Never Moves Moron back at Main State negotiated all flights with U.S. carriers to go through London. So basically, DOS gets a Good Deal by going that route, and that route is the only approved route. Want to get creative and stop somewhere else? Fine – just pay the cost difference – which in our case was about $1000. Per person.
Reboot . . . .
So do we know anyone in London? Yes? Awesome. Visit some friends, have high tea at Harrod’s, see Buckingham Palace, the War Rooms, Big Ben, Tower of London, Parliament, maybe do a pub crawl. Made plans. Reservations at a hotel. Really, really excited!
This time it’s a Never Travels Moron who works at United Airlines or American Airlines. OK, so maybe they DO travel. I mean, with all those flights they earn for putting up with drunk travelers or other people – wait – who am I kidding??! The NTM who made this decision sits in a cubicle at HQ and doesn’t have to see those of us moving with 8 suitcases, a dog, and a pissed-off spouse, flying 15 hours DIRECT in COACH to live in a brand new place we’ve never been before in our lives. I digress. . .
Turns out that the UK is really, really strict about quarantine. But they DO have exceptions, and the U.S. is one of the countries that is excepted, with certain paperwork (which we have), and so transiting the dog shouldn’t be a problem. But it IS – because the NTMs at both of the U.S. carriers that fly to Mumbai on the approved routes – get this – do not transport pets into the United Kingdom at all. (https://www.aa.com/i18n/travelinformation/specialAssistance/travelingWithPets.jsp; http://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/travel/animals/exceptions.aspx)
Huh? Who cut this deal? What NMM deep in the bowels of the State Department thought this would be an awesome idea? I can’t count the number of DOS families I know who have at least one pet. It’s such a big issue the DOS has an entire section on its website dedicated to travel with pets. (http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/c10442.htm)
So even though DiploDog can come through London, someone has decided it’s too much of a pain in the neck to deal with, so our plans for an idyllic visit with friends and a few days rest before the Mumbai Adventure are shot to pieces.
What to do, what to do? Mulling over the possibilities, I rejected leaving DiploDog stateside with friends or family. Can you imagine saying to your kids that you can’t take the dog along? Not only aren’t you going to see some of the stuff you’re used to having around daily, but we’re also “putting rover in storage”? My next thought was that I should just get DiploDog declared a therapy animal and keep him on my lap in the cabin the entire way to Mumbai. I decided that even though DiploDog is the biggest lump in dogdom and would probably not move the entire flight, I wanted to be able to feel my legs at the end of the flight and mealtimes would be entirely too much of a logistical problem.
So we went for option number three . . . . Direct. Out of Newark. Fifteen hours, nonstop, in coach. Oh, wait – we can get a pass to the business class lounge for our 3-hour layover if we want. If we want to go through the hassle of changing DiploDad’s orders, that is. And that will happen. Oh yes, it will happen. Because for the entire three hours we are in that lounge, I will exact my own brand of revenge on the airline. Kiss all your chocolate and wine goodbye, U.S. carrier. Because I, and the DiploKids, are coming for it.