Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The 2nd Day of Trying to Get to Idaho Falls and Let's Make it Clear That This Was NOT Southwest!

Taken from "Certain Airlines Official Website: 

"Certain Airlines (real name retracted by me) is committed to providing a safe and comfortable travel experience for all of our customers, including pets. Because we share our customers' concern that their pets' flights are stress-free, we have enhanced our animal acceptance policy to transport pets as both baggage (accompanying a passenger on the same plane) and cargo. Our program is called We Love Your Pets.  (Again, real name retracted by me)

The program offers the following options:
  • Customers can track their animals traveling as cargo online throughout their journey.
  • Certain will continue to accept small pets for travel in cabin in applicable markets.
  • Certain's policy for service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs, has not changed and they will continue to be welcomed on board or as checked baggage.  (Bolding mine).
  • Pets can travel Certain's cargo service offering same day, airport-to-airport delivery with features designed to ensure an animal's comfort and safety."

Tell me if I'm wrong... when one reads that, would one delve deeper into the website to see if there are further requirements for flying with service dogs?  Note where it says, "has not changed", so him telling me it changed a week ago wasn't... ummm, correct. 

I did delve deeper into the website, (yeah, sister's computer!) and nowhere on their official website does it say they require 48 hours notice, a doctor's note, proof that Annie is a service dog, or proof of disability. 

Added Note:  Three days past the event, I must admit to perhaps exaggerating on the proof of disability required part.  He wasn't that dumb.   But it was most CERTAINLY IMPLIED that I was faking needing a service dog, and at the time, I felt like I had to prove I was disabled.  The hour and half seems awfully long, but I KNOW I was at the ticket/check-in desk the recommended 2 hours before the flight, and I KNOW that the man who pushed my wheelchair said we had a half hour before the flight.  So that equals an hour and a half from ticket desk to wheelchair, and the half hour to the gate = 2 hours.  Luckily, people in wheelchairs get to zoom thru security - one of the few and rare benefits of being disabled. 

When I got home, prior to the flight on the second day, I found my paperwork for the service dog tags, my doctor's prescription for a service animal, my Social Security Disability proof of income, and the medical record of my diagnosis.  I included the actual prescription for a wheelchair, in case he would tell me those could be had on the Internet too.  And I gave Annie a bath. 

I also called Certain Airlines to find out where my luggage was.  If it was still in San Francisco, I didn't necessarily HAVE to go to Idaho Falls... my sister could find someone else to drop in on her cats.  The other house-sitting "job" didn't (doesn't) start till this coming Friday.  But then again, did I really want to deal with getting said luggage to the airport again?  That alone exhausted me.  No, I did not. I have over-packed on my last two trips so that I could just leave some clothes with my sister, and then I wouldn't have to pack hardly at all.  Same plan for Denver, where Jeremy lives.  When the Certain Airlines voice mail directions said "Waiting time is estimated to be  20 minutes" before I could talk to someone, two seconds later, a human responded!  He said my luggage was still in San Francisco and I could pick it up at the Lost Luggage place. 

So...on the second day at the airport, after packing a backpack with some clothes in case my luggage got lost again -

Genius.  It rolls, it's a back-pack, and I can sit down!
I approached the ticket desk with confidence, eager to give the paperwork (that I had marked in red marker "Against the Law" on each page) to the Certain Airlines Supervisor.  (Since my computer was dead, I wasn't able to get a copy of their service dog policy, but I trusted my son when he said there was nothing on their website.)  I had everything but the 48 hours notice, but I thought under the circumstances, it could be over-looked. 

Of course, I was no dummy.  I first went to the ticket desk and presented myself as a non-rev with a service animal with 2 bags to check.  The two agents were perfectly pleasant and cheerful and welcomed Annie, saying what a pretty dog she was.  They saw that I had missed the 12:30am flight the night before, and rather than telling them the whole sordid story, I just said I confused the am and the pm.  They sorted it all out in a heartbeat, and checked on my luggage.  It would be going on my flight.  (??? At some point, someone told me it had already gone to Idaho, so that was 3 different stories about my luggage).  They asked me what kind of service animal is my service animal, and I replied "Mobility".  To ask that question is legal.  Sometimes I get confused and say "Golden Retriever".  As they were printing out my boarding pass, telling me the seats were wide open (lots of seats and non-revs will most likely get on the plane), I asked...

Me:  "Don't you need my paperwork?"

Nice ticket agent ladies:  (looking confused) "What paperwork?"

Me:  "For my service dog to get on the plane".

Lovely ticket agent ladies:  "No, we just need to know what type of service animal she is", still looking confused. 

Me:  (imagine that)  "Hmmmm, the supervisor last night wasn't going to let her on, but he finally did"

Fabulous ticket agent ladies:  (looking confused)  Why are you here today then?

Me:  "Pilot No-Show." 

Perfect ticket agent ladies:  (handing me my ID and boarding pass)  "Have a good flight, and we're sorry you had a bad experience yesterday".

It looks like there's a "No" there, but it's security person's initials.  It definitely says "Service animal ok!" 

(Wow.  I just remembered... the Certain Airlines supervisor hadn't asked for my ID.  That's hilarious.  He's hassling me for paperwork that he has no right to ask for, but he doesn't ask for my ID...). 

I saw the same Certain Airlines Employee who herds the humans thru the ticket line, and asked if the same supervisor was there, and he said that he had gone home already. 


At the gate, the pilots saw Annie and came over to introduce themselves, and would I like the bulk-head seats for Annie Darling?  I said Sure, but she's able to sit underneath the seats if need be, but they said that wasn't necessary, and Annie Darling could have more room in the bulkhead seats.  They brought me the new boarding pass with the new seat number on it, and asked if there was anything more they could do.

No thank-you, you've been lovely, I'll just sit here and wait for the plane.  Thanks so much!


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