Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Sorry. We don't know where your cat is"

The cats' passports

What would you do if you got this message when you went to pick up your cat?

Sunday was the last day of the Magic Flute performances and me & the cats were to travel back to Oslo. The journey up had gone really well and been free of any complications, so I was relaxed and certain that the airline (and airport) was very experienced, professional and careful with my Amadeus.

Like last time I had Christa with me in the cabin (in a sherpa bag) and Amadeus had to go below. (Widerø airline-rules). So at the airport Amadeus was checked in the vari kennel carrier with his favorite blanket like he was at Gardermoen airport one month earlier. Only this time they had no idea where he was when Christa and I arrived in Oslo.

"Sorry, we don't know where your cat is"
We went down to claim our luggage like usual and expected to pick up Amadeus from the "Special luggage" area. We waited and watched the instrumentalists (who were on the same plane) pick up their contrabass and other large instruments. When no little blue box with my cat were among those, I asked the man if my cat was to come soon? (Adding that he was on the same plane as these instruments). He replied that "it probably would". Then he left me to wait some more, wondering why he weren't delivered in that load. I waited a long time and started to feel nervous. My heart jumped every time the door opened, and it sank when I realized it was only workers going out for a cigarette. I realized that something was wrong and I went to the widerø helpdesk.

Amadeus (at home) in his blue box
I explained and told her which flight I had been on and that I still haven't got Amadeus back. She called the luggage handlers (and the people who had worked on that plane) and was told that they didn't know anything about no cat. I could hear the man on the telephone tell her this and this was the cue for me to try to hold my tears and panic back. (And not to forget my anger!) She then told me what I all ready heard and said that they had no clue where Amadeus were, but perhaps he still were back at the other airport. I got horrible pictures in my head of my little Amadeus left on the cold runway. Obviously forgotten, since no one had phoned me or the airline all ready. (I was even more scared since I knew that the flight was overbooked and they had asked me, and others, if we wanted to take a later plane back. + the unusual amount of instruments as luggage!)

She then tried to phone the other airport for a long time, but no one picked up. (It was a small airport, but still not acceptable!) When she didn't get a reply she said that "he might be there still and they might send him here on the next plane in 4,5 hour. Do you want a food-coupon while you wait?"

NO! I don't want a f***** food-coupon, I want my cat! 
I want you b****** to know were my cat is, and then I want him delivered safely to me. 
(This is what I wanted to say, but in real life I strangely enough dropped the ugly swearing. But I can assure my readers that I were pretty angry and teary at this point.) 

My kind friend who were outside ready to drive us home had to pay a lot extra for the parking and I felt horrible leaving her to wait so long as well, although my main concern at this point was obviously Amadeus. The widerø-lady continued to try to reach the other airport but got hold of no one. I sat beside the counter and fought off the tears. 

Then, after 1.5 hour, I finally got a phone call.
It was from a cargo company (not the airline) wondering if I were the owner of Amadeus. Thrilled and scared senseless at the same time I got the message that Amadeus were with them and they wondered what to do with him. Not understanding how my cat ended up with this lot (as he arrived on the same plane as me & the luggage handlers had no idea about him) I gave the phone to the widerø-lady who told that they had permission to deliver him to me at the "special luggage". The man who came with him told us that they probably had thought he were cargo and not luggage, and therefor had been sent to the cargo hold when he arrived. 

I can NOT understand (or accept) that they can loose track of a live animal that way. This time the reunion were a happy one (and actually took place), but there is obvious a risk that animals can get astray like that when traveling? Scary! (Luckily I had been smart enough to put my name and phone number on the crate, if not, then what??).

I had a horrible hour of not knowing, and felt that the airline was completely incompetent and helpless in retrieving him. 

I am grateful that it all went well. Amadeus & Christa were a bit tired after the flight as expected but showed no signs of stress. They are now safely back home, Amadeus sleeps in my lap as I write this. Thank God!

Do my readers think I should write a letter to the airline? Do you think it will amount to anything?

1 comment:

  1. What baffles me the most is that i talked to a friend of mine who used to work with cargo and luggage at Flesland airport, and he told me of all the rules and routines they had with animals travelling - and they were very good and animalfriendly. He said that for this to have happened several people at several stages in the process would have had to ignore those rules... so yes, you should write a letter. In the least it might contribute to workers taking rules more seriously. And you'll probably get a voucher for your trouble...