A near CATastrophe
on Hysteria in Nigeria (Nigeria), 15/Aug/2012 13:32, 34 days ago
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I knew that trying to bring a cat back from Nigeria was not going to be easy. But I underestimated just how difficult and stressful it would be. I spent my last week in Nigeria going backwards and forwards to the airport and doing my very best to not constantly lose my temper with the man I had to deal with from the airline. The man who works for a very well known and very well respected international airline. He made the process incredibly difficult. As an example, he phoned me and asked me for the weight of Squirt in the crate. So I gave him the weight– 9kg. I then arrived at the airport to find that he had put the weight down on the booking as 20kg. “Why?” I asked. Oh, because he needed to leave room for a margin of error. A margin of error that was over double the actual weight of the cat in the crate? Oh yes, silly me, because that way he can charge me double the amount it’s supposed to cost. I had a minor breakdown and had a small rant about how this was an international airline. An international airline that surely has internationally recognised policies and procedures. So how can he just bend the rules just because he wants to? I guess he realised that trying to extort me wasn’t worth the hysteria he would get in return, so he let me weigh Squirt in the crate in front of him. This didn’t however stop him from trying to extort me for ridiculous amounts of money every single step of the way. The day before I was due totravel the vet then kindly told me that he never has anything to do with this particular airline, not after they put his cat in the wrong part of the hold and she suffocated. So then when I asked endless questions about where Squirt would be on the plane, and would she be safe, he had the gall to say to me, “Please remember this is XX airline you are doing with here, forget you are in Nigeria and talking to me, and remember that I represent this airline. Your cat will be safe.” Gee, thanks mister. If only you could have remembered that weeks ago and saved us both the stress and hassle that has consumed my last few weeks in Nigeria.The whole exercise turned almost farcical when Jenny and I arrived at Abuja airport on Thursday in time for our flight. The customs men asked me to put the“dog” through the x-ray machine with the rest of our bags. Jenny and I had to explain that the CAT is alive, and therefore should not go through that machine.“Okay” they said, “take the “dog” out of the crate so we can scan the crate.”“What? You want me to take this feral, terrified CAT out of the crate in the middle of Abuja airport? Seriously?”“Yes,” they replied. “Yes we do”.Oh goody. So out Squirt came. Trembling and scratching to get away from me. It got even better at check-in. The man from the airline was stood with me and Squirt, finishing the final bits of paperwork, when a member of staff came up to the crate and started peering in at Squirt.“No, don’t do that,” said my new friend the airline man, who was on his very best behaviour on my day of departure, “I’ve been on the XX staff animal handling course, you can’t peer in the crate, you will scare the DOG.”Excellent, so the animal handling course teaches them not to peer in crates at terrified animals, but it doesn’t teach them the difference between cats and dogs. Poor old Squirt remained a dog until we picked her up at Jersey airport and they asked us to sign the collection papers for a “live dog”.“This is a cat, should we change the paperwork?” We asked them.“Oh yes, so it is,” was the response. Oh goody.All in all I will never ever again travel anywhere with any animal. Or pick up any animal off the streets of Nigeria– or any other country that I will then be leaving. But after two days of travelling, she made it, and she’s now settling well into her new home. And so am I.