Wednesday morning, we hefted all our crap into Lawrence and VL’s van and took off for the airport on an especially beautiful morning in Scott’s Valley (is something begging us to stay???) Got to SFO in what we thought was plenty of time. Unloaded all the ungodly heavy cases, leashed the dogs, assembled the dogs’ crates, and headed for the counter. It’s great when you have so much volume, because the Lufthansa staff opened a new window for us just because they could smell trouble!!!
Our airport saga begins when the counter staff realized they couldn’t check-in two dogs with one reservation. Finally, after the supervisor of the supervisor of the supervisor was dragged in, they somehow did an override and allowed the two dogs to be checked on Theo’s ticket. Soon two guys showed up with a large cart, we loaded the dogs into the crates and went to the Oversize Baggage department, where the crates and contents were examined by security personnel. We needed to fill the hamster water bottles for them, and all I had were two of the teeny-tiny water bottles. After 3 trips to the bathroom sink and finding two unopened bottles of water in the trash (dumpster-diving at it’s finest, thank you), I was able to fill them. Then the dogs were whisked off to be put on the plane—no time to give them their anti-anxiety medication and hardly enough time to tell them to be brave. Ruh-roh…
Oh well. Then I race back to check in, where Theo was feverishly repacking some of the contents of the two large cases into an extra bag that he had to buy to reduce the per bag weight. We planned on paying for the extra baggage, but this was a crazy last-minute hurrah that had Theo cussing and sweating profusely! Of course, I had gone to the Lufthansa website and researched the baggage limitations over a week ago, but Theo-who-knows-all-things-German-better-than-anyone, said, “Ya, they’ll take it no matter what it weighs and we’ll just pay.” No. [I told you so.]
So after paying the $600 for the dogs and the $900 in baggage overage, we were on our way. It’s only money, right?
So what are my words of wisdom here?
1) Do a ‘final packing’ about a week ahead of departure and weigh your bags. Check the airline baggage restrictions and follow them.
(We had too much paperwork and other precious things that didn’t get packed in the crates, so we brought them in baggage. Left to do it over, we would have pre-packed to see what the load was going to be and put the rest of the crap in a box in the mail to ourselves…
2) If you have two dogs and two humans traveling, book one dog per passenger.
(Still don’t understand why this was a big deal, but if it saves you the half-hour that it ate up for us, it’s worth it.)
3) Get to the airport at least 3-1/2 hours ahead of flight time.
(It seems like a lot, but will reduce the stress when things go sideways.)