A day lost and a couple of exploded brain cells later and myself and Mango have a flight booked to Berlin. Instead of it being after the German leaves, it will in fact be before him. Here is the short of it: Air Canada has a summer embargo on flights, you can not fly with your dog between June 20th and September 10th. Their web site doe not say this on the first page of their pet policy. Nor do they share it with their partners. The Lufthansa agent told me she could not book me on the flight because it was operated by Air Canada who does not allow dogs on the flight – period. Not because of the date but because pets are not allowed. (For the record it turns out they also have a winter embargo from Nov 1st until March 31st.) This is really only a problem if you have to fly Air Canada for a portion of your flight. Like say, you are from an island in which Air Canada ensures its monopoly. For the full story and a little schadenfreude read on past the picture!
11:30 am: We arrive at Starbucks. We had spent the night in the desert, had had a wonderful breakfast, and were just generally happy. We knew we should book my ticket back to Germany sooner rather than later and before everything was booked out (we wanted the most direct route possible because of Mango and direct flights to London from Newfoundland tend to sell out months in advance).
11:35 am: We have our coffees and Internet is running, I start searching for the best flights. Luck had it that not all direct flights were booked out! A flight could have me in Berlin in just under 10 hours. Sweeeeeet! Before booking I call the Lufthansa help line to make sure Mango could come on the flight with me.
12:30 pm: Customer service tells me to go ahead and book and then call back to confirm the pet. If he is not allowed they will refund the ticket. I have 24 hours between booking and calling to check to get the refund.
12:50 pm: I call back with my flight. I have another agent who was absolutely wonderful, but full of bad news. When I gave her my booking code she tells me pets are not allowed to transfer in London. But even if they were Air Canada does not allow pets on board. This I know is not true as the website says they take pets. The agent first gets her supervisor to refund my ticket and then helps me find a flight. The problem: I needed to fly on an Lufthansa operated flight and not one shared with, but operated by, Air Canada. From Toronto she found only one flight operated by Lufthansa itself, the rest was by Air Canada. But I had to get Mango to Toronto to use it.
1:30 pm: I hang up (actually I was disconnected thanks to Skype) and check Air Canada’s regulations. I see that dogs are allowed so I call them up. Unlike Lufthansa, Air Canada has me on hold for 20 mins before an agent tells me about the time period embargo.
2: 00 pm: Now I am starting to get frustrated, but since I now know what the problem is, it should be easily fixed. I thought about asking my mom to bring Mango with her in September but should the German officials hassle her at immigration, or even worse, not let him in for some reason, I figured the woman might have a break down. Nanny of the wonderful jackets for Berlin winters and treats has Mango detained or lost at airport. No, not worth it. I will just have to fly sooner.
2: 10 pm: Talk over with Patrick if I should fly to Berlin as planned (where we are moving) or to Stuttgart (where Oma is). Since I am no longer flying after he has moved perhaps Stuttgart (and Oma) would be better. We also debated if it would be better to fly into Frankfurt to make Mango’s flight time shorter.
We looked into train regulations with dogs. Mango is allowed on the train BUT I can only book his ticket and have it mailed to me in Germany. Otherwise I buy it on the day of departure and before entering the train. Buying it on the day or having it mailed is the difference of about 50 Euro or more. Train tickets are only cheap in Germany when booked in advance. Dogs bigger than a lap dog have to pay for a children’s ticket. WARRGGLE Decide to fly to Berlin.
2:45 pm: I have the flight ready to be booked. I enter my credit card details and I am told I need a secure code. I enter the 3 digit number on the back of my card. That is not the secure code. WTF?
3:00 pm: I finally get hold of Mastercard. When I tell them I need a secure code I am transfered 5 times before someone can help me. Then I am told they will email me it. With that info I can then log in and create my own. Not that I should book the ticket mind you, the Lufthansa refund has yet to go through and will in fact take 3 – 5 days on Mastercards side. Damn my newly found responsible ways that reduced my credit to stop me from going on mad shopping sprees!
3:25 pm: Back to trying it with Patrick’s card. They want a password. They refuse to take the one he gives.
3:35 pm: Start screaming about how life sucks and I hate everything.
3:40 pm: Breathing is heavy and only slightly under control. Vision is becoming tunnel like. I call up Air Canada to book over the phone.
3:50 pm: Finally reach someone at Air Canada. She is lovely, takes me through the booking process again, books Mango in everywhere, confirms the size of his crate and then tells me after 30 mins of this that I need to confirm Frankfurt to Berlin with Lufthansa myself. Not blaming her, she was wonderful and nice. But really Air Canada? She gives me a courtesy hold for 24 hours and I go off to call Lufthansa.
4:10 pm: Disconnected every time I call Lufthansa.
4:15 pm: Decide to email them instead. I look up the “contact us” page and I give all the details and ask who I can call or if they could confirm in email itself that the dog is allowed on the flight.
4:40 pm: Give up in rage and decide that it is in everyone’s best interest I eat something since I am now swearing loudly and kicking things.
8:30 am: Connect to Internet at a new Starbucks (not sure I am allowed back into the other one) and find that the email I sent refers me back to Lufthansa’s pet page and states that I had reached technical support and they were unable to help me. WTF? My eyebrow twitches and I hope things go better this time around.
8:35 am: Reach the same lady I talked to the second time around yesterday. She remembers me! Despite only having a courtesy booking she books Mango on through to his new home in Berlin!
8: 45 am: Call Air Canada and book my ticket over the phone. Bittersweet victory as it means less time with my family and not being able to be there for the birth of my brother’s new baby.