05 September 2008

Traveling Like a Pro--And in Style

I'm sorry I'm a long time getting this posted, but I spent a lot of Thursday sleeping to recover from the trip. Then Friday I had a doctor appointment and spent another batch of time sleeping. So here's the trip report.

We got up at 3 a.m. Denmark time on the morning of 3 September. I'd asked British Airways, who is the airline listed on our electronic ticket, when we needed to be at the airport and they said two hours early. Molly was excited but well-behaved. I hadn't slept much overnight--I'm on antibiotics for my unspecified lung infection and they make me hyper, plus I was excited about the trip. DH woke up with a migraine. Despite all that, we managed to get ourselves fed, Molly walked, and headed to the airport, thanks to DH's friend who drove us.

The check-in desk was not open when we arrived. After we waited and waited and it was less than an hour before our flight, we asked one of the SAS people if they knew when it opened. It turned out it didn't open until 45 minutes before our take off time. Molly waited quietly all this time. She enjoyed watching other people moving around, but didn't whine or bark or get too upset by being still. I took advantage of the opportunity to pass one of her "on the road" tests for the levels. She is able to hold a loose leash while I am seated in my wheelchair and not moving around for a minute despite the distractions of people all over.

When they finally opened, I asked the man there about the arrival time but didn't get a satisfying answer. So if you're ever flying a BA flight done by Sun Air, don't believe them about the 2 hour check-in time.

Sun's flight wasn't booked solid. So Molly and I had the front row with 2 adjacent seats. DH sat across the aisle in a single seat and the couple rows behind us were empty. Molly behaved perfectly. She was a little stressed that DH and I weren't closer together and that she wasn't allowed across the aisle to him, but she dealt with it. Molly got a little motion sick as we were landing (some drool) but nothing serious. We were really impressed.

We then arrived in Oslo. We were met at the airplane by a man with a wheelchair. Although I thought it wouldn't work out, we were able to get my own chair immediately. So he put the airport's chair aside and pushed me in my chair. We didn't have to wait in lines. This man escorted us to the customs area so we could get Molly cleared for going outside. There was a little trouble there. I had the stuff we needed for Denmark and the US, but Norway requires a follow-up to a rabies shot to verify the presence of antibodies and a weird deworming verified by the vet. But they let us take her outside for a potty anyway as long as we promised to keep her on leash. They made an exception because she wasn't staying in the country. But I wanted to mention it to make sure that others traveling thought to verify the requirements of connecting countries.

Then we went to check-in with Continental. The man the airport provided continued to escort us through all this. Once we were checked in properly, he took us to a coffee shop near the door and set up where we should meet him later when it was time to head to the gate. We then took Molly outside, where she pottied on concrete on command in less than 30 seconds. That passes another OtR levels excercise.

Molly was a very good and helpful girl and insisted on cleaning things up off the floor. She hates pieces of paper and such all over.

Then when it was time, the guy came back to get us. We got cut into line to go through the security check. It took a while--I had to have my shoes off and them run separately through the x-ray. Once we were all cleared, the guy pushed me to the gate and Molly walked along side. My poor DH had to carry both carry-ons and stuff.

At the gate, we had to go through a huge mess of checks and stuff because it's a US flight. Had to answer all the questions again about if we'd maintained possession of our bags and if we were carrying anything for anyone, etc., etc. Then I got spot picked for a carry-on search. The guy was really nice about it and lucky for him he picked the backpack that had Molly's stuff in it. The other one would have been really nasty to unpack and repack because it had my meds in it.

While we were waiting at the gate, the cabin crew arrived. A very nice woman stopped to ask some questions about Molly, how we were seated in the plane, and if we'd have enough space. She works for Continental and her name is Latania. Her name tag said she was from or based in Halifax and she managed the cabin crew. I'm telling all this because if you end up on one of her flights, you'll be a very lucky person and because we owe her a huge thanks.

Thanks to her, we were bumped to business class on the very full flight to the US. She wanted to make sure that Molly had plenty of room and a great experience. She came by our seat often to check that we had plenty of room and about half way through the flight asked if she could give Molly the ice cubes that I'd asked for for her. Everyone on the crew was really nice--asking to pet Molly and complimenting her behavior. With being in the higher class, there was plenty of room for Molly's mat to be put on the floor between us the long way and for us to both still have more than enough leg space.

We were, of course, fed a full business class 4 course dinner and plenty to drink. We shared our fortune with Molly, so she got bits and pieces of meat from our dinner, ice cubes from our glasses, etc. She never did end up eating much dry food. I was exhausted after we ate and hurting pretty bad, so I lay back to sleep and DH stayed awake to keep tabs on Molly. Molly actually was able to relax and sleep. She enjoyed looking at the people around us and the attention from the flight attendants.

They offered to find some kind of snacks or something for her, but we didn't want her to have too much. She did end up getting salmon. Our second meal was hamburgers with a first course of salmon. Molly got both of our pieces of salmon. So she also benefitted from the luxury treatment.

Our flight was rather turbulent. The seat belt light kept coming on. But Molly handled it fine and didn't seem to get air sick this time. She was pretty unhappy during landing. She just looked uneasy, but no whining or complaining.

We waited patiently for everyone else to get off before we did. My wheelchair was waiting, but no personal assistant this time. Poor Molly had to keep holding while we went through customs, immigration, and got our bags. Then we had to go to the agriculture people to get Molly checked and because we have horses at home. All that went fine and rather smoothly. I had to answer some questions, but we were prepared. Despite what a woman had told me on the phone before the trip, Molly is not required to get a second rabies shot when she has already had one.

Then we tried to hurry out. Our luggage had had to go through a second check. While DH was loading the luggage onto our $3 cart, Molly had an accident on the floor. She looked so traumatized. She'd been holding since about 4am US time and it was going on 3pm. I also suspect the floor may have been spotted already judging from the carpet. That would make it harder for her to continue to hold. But we immediately threw down a number of paper towels that we'd brought in her vest and called one of the people working there to alert them to the problem and apologize. The guy was really nice and understanding and said he'd take care of it, but we still cleaned the wet paper towels up into a potty bag.

Then we went the rest of the way out and found my parents. They helped us get out to their car for the drive "home" to their place. We made a stop at a park first to give Molly some water and a potty outing. She wasn't really interested in the water but did seem to appreciate the outing.

We went to a TGI Friday's for dinner but let Molly stay in the car. We thought she needed the quiet. It was so nice to have a steak. DH somehow managed to find a Dane to talk to in the bathroom.

Molly got some dinner when we got back to the car. She ate a huge bowl of Orijen dry food. Then we found another potty spot for Molly before going by my grandmother, who lives in a nursing home.

Getting to my parents' place, Molly met cats for the first time. She wants to chase them and move them around. A "leave it" quiets her, but they are very tempting.

The crate I had ordered for her for the time here had arrived, so now she has passed all the crate behaviors on the road. She went in quite happily and stayed in when needed.

So thank you everyone for your good thoughts. A special thanks goes to Latania, whose name I hope I have spelled correctly, for making sure that our Continental flight was so roomy and pleasant.


Samantha said...

I am glad that you have all arrived safely Bex. It sounds like Molly did really well. I hope that you all have a great time over there. :-)

BCBeckett said...

Bexie it's great to hear you arrived safe and sound. Give Molly a big hug from me for being a class A BC! What a great ambassador for the breed. Hope to hear more of your visit on the blog.


Erin said...

Yay Molly and Bex! Congrats on all the OtR passes and excellent performance on the plane. Glad you all arrived safe and sound (and proud of yourselves!).

Rebecca and Molly the Border Collie said...

Thank you! Nice to hear from all of you.

Tansy said...

Most excellent, Molly and Bex! I believe Molly deserves some Capital Letters after her name after this Experience! We hope your Trip continues well.


Anonymous said...

Bexie, I am so glad you had a good trip. I am trying to keep up a bit more with all your adventures. Have a grand time.