Daisy came back "home" to the US last Thursday. She flew all by her little self from Manchester, England, to Atlanta, Georgia. Simon and I made arrangements via a pet relocation service to get her on her way, and we were assured of a certain number of things upon handing over almost $1600 to them.
On the day, everything started well and Simon and his dad got Daisy to the airport and checked in on time. She was xrayed and then sent on her way, and apparently her flight was fine and she actually got to Atlanta 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
My friend Joanne and I headed down to pick her up. We were told by the relocation folks in England that all I would have to do is turn up at the Air Cargo warehouse, pay my import fee of $50, present them with an airbill number, and they would then hand Daisy over to me. That is not exactly what happened.
The very very very nice man at the warehouse told me that while Daisy was on the ground and on her way to the warehouse, I wasn't going to be able to collect her that night because she'd arrived too close to the time that the customs officers at the warehouse leave for the day. I assured him that we'd been told that they were there 24-7. He assured me with a very sad look on his face that they left at 5 every day, and any animals that arrived too close to that deadline would be taken to a nearby kennel for the night and their owners could collect them. I told him that we hadn't sent any food with her and he said they would feed her. I told him that we feed her raw and further we'd paid a lot of money to get her on that flight and I was not leaving without her. He looked like he was going to cry but told me he couldn't do anything. I went in the bathroom, cried a little, swore a lot, and then got on the phone to Delta.
Oh, easy, the lovely representative I spoke with said. You get her paperwork from them, take it to customs in the actual airport, they will approve it, and then you bring it back. I told the guy that, he grinned and got to work on her paperwork. He asked if I knew where to go, and I said that all she had told me was "customs."
All of you who fly regularly...where is customs in an airport? Yep, you got it, inside the secure area where you need a boarding pass to get through. A boarding pass assumes that you are BOARDING a flight. See a problem yet?
I got to the airport and NO ONE could tell me where I needed to go to get a gate pass to get through to customs. I spent an hour just finding out that I had to go on my own to find a TSA agent to get a gate pass. Only, that's NOT what I had to do at all, I needed to go to DELTA to get a gate pass (where I started, an hour prior). There is something about telling a ticketing agent that TSA sent you that makes them very snarky, just so you know before you try it. Finally, I had my gate pass and I was going through security.
One full body scan later, I was on the train under the airport to the concourse at the complete other end of the airport for international arrivals/departures and customs. I spent most of hour two since leaving the warehouse getting to that concourse and then sitting while the customs agent checked her paperwork and finally stamped it. Back through security (thankfully no full body scan this time), back on the train, back to the car and by 8:40pm we were waiting on them to wheel Daisy's crate out. For those keeping score, that was four hours after she arrived in Atlanta, and a whopping EIGHTEEN hours after she was put in her crate at Manchester Airport.
My baby girl hadn't made a single mess in her crate. Bless. I was so happy to see her that I just sat there and held her for a minute, big stupid tears rolling as she wiggled to get away from me and glare back at her box. And now she's here, she's learning about being one of five dogs in a house instead of the only one, and she's taking most of it in stride. I think I've seen her snarl more in the past two days than I have since I've had her.
A strongly worded complaint will be issued to Delta because that was just unacceptable. Not only did the right hand not know what the left hand was doing, but I don't think it knew there WAS a left hand.
There is a positive, though...Simon's visa was approved at his interview a week ago today, and on this past Friday he got his passport and the Mysterious Brown Sealed Envelope that he has to take AS IS to customs when he arrives in the States to stay.
Well...to stay until I've had it with my life here and feel that old need to move on...but hopefully that won't be for a long time yet.