Monday, June 15, 2009

One month

A month from today--a month from right now--we'll be on a plane bound for the New World. The girls and I are taking off a day before C and the dogs: we're traveling directly (if you can call three flights direct) to my hometown, where we'll recover from jet lag and the first bumps of cultural re-entry. Meanwhile, C, Alice, and Wendy will go directly (only two flights) to Washington.

If you've ever traveled by plane with your dogs, then perhaps you know that American carriers refuse to transport animals too large for the passenger cabin if the temperature forecast at either the departure or arrival airport exceeds 85 degrees. That's because the animals in their crates go out onto the tarmac when the luggage goes out. And if the luggage has to wait a bit, so do the animals. (Beagle brochette, anyone?) Hence the policy: over 85 degrees, Fido goes the next day. Air France has no weather policy because the animals go on at the end, while the passengers are boarding. Et voilà, the weather doesn't matter so much; Fifi travels with maman no matter what.

My hometown--have I told you where it is? I can't remember--does not sport an international airport. Thus: if they traveled with me, the dogs would have to fly domestically. And the 85 degree rule would be invoked. And there I would be, at a pay phone in O'Hare, leafing through my address book and hoping that I still have my college adviser's home phone number so that she can come and get my dogs for a sleepover.

And why are C and I not going to the same place? The answer is so much less interesting than you may be imagining. He's got to go back to work. The girls don't start school until the end of the summer, and I won't even look for a job til September or October or maybe let's just keep checking those unemployment we are going to profit from our relative footlooseness by having a nice long old-fashioned family visit.

Also our furniture won't arrive in Washington until the middle of August.

And then, Washington is, for us, Real Life. Were the girls and I to go directly back and move, with C, into Grandma's house while we wait for the boat with all our furniture to come, then we are all pretty certain that the summer would look like this:

1. Worry about the start of school.

2. Worry about finding a job.

Repeat as necessary until bedtime.

So C and the dogs will land in Washington and the girls and I will land farther south.

C, you'll have deduced, clever as you are, will be flying Air France. Nice to Paris, Paris to Washington. Champagne and movies on demand the entire way (even for the dogs).

The girls and I will be flying Aer Lingus. Nice to Dublin, Dublin to Chicago, Chicago to home. When I mentioned to an Irish friend that we would be on the Irish airline, she stopped what she was doing and turned to me.

You know Aer Lingus is a low-cost airline, she said.

Well, they were the cheapest tickets we could find, and even though the company is paying for it, all the other tickets were thousands of dollars and had terrible connections...

She looked at me pityingly. No, she said, I don't mean they have cheap tickets. I mean you have to pay for your food.

I got it the second time around. While C sips champagne and catches up on this summer's blockbusters, E, G, and I will be spending our last euros on microwaved meat pies with cabbage, and headphones that will let us listen to the film version of The Price is Right as the video is shown on the front wall of the cabin.

Maybe my friend was wrong. (I hope so.) Maybe overseas flights are different. (Fingers crossed.)

Or maybe we'll just be that much happier to touch down.


  1. oh no! I will miss your stories of France. It breaks my heart that you all have to leave. However, good news is that the economy is not so awful here in Virginia as it is in some places. You and I will both be looking for new jobs at the same time

  2. I don't even know what to say as I know this is a bittersweet time for all of you. Just want you to know we are thinking about you and hoping for a smooth transition for all, chiens included.


  3. I have flown Aer Lingus many times from Boston to Dublin and I always enjoyed it because it is Irish and I just like Ireland. I lived there for a year when I was 20.
    I never expect airline food to be good! I am grateful if it is edible. I mean, consider the kitchen challenges.
    What kind of facilities does Air France have for animals? We are flying American Airlines to Paris because I got the tickets with credit card points, though I would have preferred Air France. Can you take animals on the trains in France?
    I am still imagining going to France someday for a long stay with two cats. Two, spoiled, well loved, well fed felines, that live in a kitty paradise and get upset if I am not within reach. (they can walk from the house to my office within a cat fenced area) I can't imagine putting them in a cargo hold.

  4. Here's the Air France traveling with animals page: --or you can google, as I did, "air france traveling animals." If your kitty friends are under 6kg, looks like they can travel with you in the cabin.

    As for animals on French's the Guide du Routard on that: Scroll down a bit and you'll get to the train section, where it says that animals 6 kg and under can travel by train in a carrier.

    And as for the airplane food...I know, it's never good. I just wanted the extra 9 hours in France.

  5. Ramona would have no problem as she is a trim under ten pounds, her brother would be a close call but with a lightweight crate he would be ok.
    I'll dream on. We're flying on the 28th of August for two weeks. Sans felines of course.
    Best wishes for your trip to the US.