It's a mad mad mad mad world.
After three days of building myself up to the challenge of getting an appointment with the vet, the USDA and an airline ticket all within a 10-day window, I tried for the Air France flight to Slovenia again. Yes, the one with the layover in Paris. My brother spoke to a pilot for Virgin Atlantic who gave me the confidence to go all the way to Slovenia despite the layover.
If you recall, the last time I did this I was told I could see Tyson in Paris (oh good). When it came to buying the ticket I was told I couldn't (oh no). Turns out that Air France insist that I see him, but the tickets are sold by Delta who insist that I can't (?). Then they said that I wouldn't know if Tyson would be able to fly until 24-48 hours after I'd bought the ticket (?, ? and thrice ?).
I put the phone down on them again.
I found a flight via Munich with Lufthansa and the woman on the phone (American, not German) typed something when I told her the flight numbers of the trip I was looking at. I don't know what she typed (it's hard to tell isn't it, with just click-clacky noises over a phone), but she reported back with enormous confidence that there was room for him on both flights! Hooray! She wasn't sure about the requirements for Adria Airlines though, the people who operate the trip from Munich to Ljubljana. I looked on their web site and all they give is the cost of dog crates over a certain size. I phoned them in Europe but they were closed as it was getting late over in Europe-land.
It didn't say a maximum size and Tyson's crate isn't that big. He's a normal dog, just a bit bigger than normal luggage. I went ahead and phoned the USDA as my first step in this 3-cornered boxing ring.
"If I buy a ticket for November 27th and get a vet appointment 10 days before, what's the chances of getting an appointment with you?"
(I have spoken to this man before and he is not creative).
"What day do you want to come in and I'll tell you if I can fit you in."
"I don't know what day I want to come in, I don't have a ticket yet, but I'm looking to fly on the 27th. If I bought that ticket, would it be likely I'd get an appointment with you or are you all booked up for months ahead?"
"Get a vet appointment and I'll tell you."
"You can't tell me if you have any space available between the 18th November and the 26th?"
"No, I need a date."
(Silent screams, biting the table, punching an imaginary government worker. Finally a deep breath.)
"Ok....Hello there, I'd like an appointment on November 21st please!"
"Yes, morning or afternoon?"
"Is one thirty ok?"
I was then going to say No, Wait, I got that wrong, I meant the 22nd. And then I'd say the 23rd and the 24th etc until I had built up a map of when this man had free appointments, but I was worried that he would work out what I was doing and stop talking to me. I accepted the appointment and moved on.
I called the vet and asked if they had room for me between the 18th (the earliest I could do it for travelling on the 27th) and the 21st (when I had to take the vet's report to the USDA). Yes, no problem, come in on the 20th.
Two down, one to go!
I bought the ticket, one way, JFK to Ljubljana, $808 plus $400 for Tyson. I had done it. I owned a flight from here to there after many weeks of research. Huzzah!
I phoned Lufthansa back and told a different woman that I was the proud owner of the ticket, and she booked Tyson onto the plane to Munich, then said he couldn't go on the plane from Munich to Ljubljana.
"It just comes back 'no'," she said.
(Silent screams, biting the table, punching an imaginary airline, its staff and all its planes. Finally a deep breath.)
It took a few hours and $50 to cancel the ticket. If I want to end my trip in Germany I can do it for a lot less than $1200.
Today is another day. I'm not going to try another connecting flight. I'm going straight to somewhere and then hiring a team of elephants to get me over the Alps.
Moving with my dog to Slovenia.