Fur flies across the Atlantic, for a price

Written by admin on January 30, 2009 – 9:13 pm -

Many people wish animals would be banned from flying in airline cabins. Some people feel the same way about young children and badly behaved adults. Others are allergic to certain fragrances and the list goes on. Still, $200 for a cat who demands nothing and sleeps during the entire flight is more than steep.

I travel with Kitty. This is an expensive luxury. But for reasons many people don’t understand, it’s a given. Kitty was born in France, has a EU passport and can travel—even to London, that until recently, required  an animal spend six months in quarantine before entering the U.K. for fear of rabies.

Preparing her medically cost more than $800 and necessitated numerous trips to the vet for shots, blood tests and the insertion of a magnetic chip.

This feline adopted us and was my legacy from my deceased husband, whom I threatened to kill if he fed this pathetic looking kitten who was camping outside the kitchen door of our country home. I neither killed him nor disowned her.

Kitty has made at least 20 round-trip transatlantic flights. She goes to the vet on both sides of the Atlantic to obtain a health certificate within a week of traveling, has rabies shots plus a few extras and meets all of the health requirements for entry into the U.S. and the EU. This 10-minute check-up costs approximately $150 each visit. That is if she doesn’t need a shot or any extra attention.

If only my in-flight neighbors were as healthy or as quiet. Kitty, all nine pounds of her, sees her carrying case and immediately assumes a Zen state, definitely on a higher (and different) plane. She’s a frequent-flyer but can’t collect points or miles.

If I were French, I would strike. Being American, I grin and bear it — kinda. That was until United announced it raised the price of Kitty’s transport by $75 each way. She weighs less than most new born infants and the cost is now $200, the same price charged for an additional 50-pound suitcase.

When informed of this, I noted that as a Premium Executive member who was flying business class (thank goodness for the miles I’ve accumulated), I was entitled to check three suitcases and checked only one. The people behind the check-in counter looked embarrassed. But it wasn’t their rule.

Am I the only person who feels $200 for transporting a kitty in a mini-carrier is gouging? There are Expats who are forced to factor this expense into their budget and it’s a major factor. Other passengers may view these four legged animals as animals. But there are some of us who don’t. They’re integral parts of our families. What do you think?

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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