Thursday, April 24, 2008

Air Anxiety

I have done a lot of air travel since my first flight when I was 20 years old from Louisville, KY to Fort Wayne, IN. That flight took off, climbed to cruising altitude, and immediately descended. I am not kidding--15 min or so in the air. I loved it! I loved the feeling as the plane lifted off the ground, the jostling in the air, and the bouncing of the plane as it reconnected with the ground. For many years, I looked forward to every flight--not only because of the great places I got to see by flying but simply because I loved being in the air.

But much of the joy of flying has been sucked out in the last few years. Now planning for a trip that involves flying brings images of long lines to have my shoes scanned and full body searches. You should have seen the intense scrutiny I received when I forgot to put my liquids in a zip lock bag recently. The TSA agent clearly thought I intended to bring the plane down with 2 oz of eye drops! And if flying for business or pleasure by myself is tough, imagine the layers of complication added by flying with rabbits.

It isn't at all impossible to bring rabbits by air to a show. It does require quite a bit of advance planning to improve the odds of things going well. But isn't that true even if you are driving? I have flown many times now to Nationals and ARBA Conventions, since it is rare that these events are within driving distance from my home in California. In fact, in the past 10 years, I have driven to 2 ARBA Conventions and 3 AFLRC National shows; the rest of the times (and I attended all of them), I had to fly. So that makes me something of an expert I guess. I have almost exclusively flown on Delta and brought the rabbits as "excess baggage". The cost for the excess baggage has increased in the past 10 years from $75/crate to $200/crate per direction. Frankly, I'm not surprised. The low price was probably quite a bargain considering the extra attention a crate of rabbits requires compared to a suitcase. I have never had a rabbit die during air travel. In fact, they generally seem much better off than they do after a car ride of similar length. I have had flights delayed by weather and had to stay in a hotel room with 24 Fuzzy Lops. I have had my rabbits arrive home a day later than I did. Fuzzies and I have missed connections, traveled through snow, argued with agents about whether rabbits can stand 30 degree temperatures. Yep, my Fuzzies and I have been through a lot together!

Tomorrow morning we leave for Colorado bright and early. My plane leaves ~9:30 am but I plan to be at the airport around 6:30 am. Wish us luck......