Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Moving Overseas, Part 7

Today was another day spent entirely on the telephone, talking to people and clearing up my misunderstandings (or theirs) about this moving process. If you hate telephones, as I do, then today is one of those days that you avoid for as long as possible. Originally, I was going to reward myself for sticking to my telephone plan by going out for a beer after wards, but I cannot do this because I have to bring my sick yellow-bibbed lory to the veterinarian tomorrow morning to see if she’s really diabetic, and then develop a treatment plan to keep her alive and healthy.


The first thing this morning, I found that USFWS agent, Katherine, had emailed me, asking for names for two of my lories (oops), so I took care of that detail and informed her of my tentative departure dates.

I found an email from a representative of Lufthansa Air Cargo telling me to get in touch with the passenger ticketing supervisor, Dave, so I spent an hour or so trying to track him down. I finally got through to him and found out that the cranky woman I spoke with on the phone yesterday was WRONG! Not only does Lufthansa Airlines ship birds, but LUFTHANSA AIRLINES SHIPS BIRDS IN THE CARGO HOLD OF THEIR PASSENGER AIRPLANES!

There. That said, I hope they fire her sorry ass for (1) being wrong, repeatedly, (2) being really rude, repeatedly, while being wrong, and (3) not giving me a chance to be rude right back at her.

So Dave and I spent some time talking about the bird situation; the restrictions and costs associated with shipping them and about the crate itself. First, it is true that I must be on the same flight as my birds, that I cannot just drop the birds on an air cargo flight without investing a serious amount of money and time into the project. Second, as you already surmised, the birds will be shipped in a heated and pressurized cargo hold that is separate from the luggage itself on the same plane I am on. Third, it will cost an additional $200 to ship the birds, if the combined weight of the birds and their shipping crate doesn’t exceed 50 pounds and their crate size doesn’t exceed certain exterior dimensions. To prevent them from beating each other up during the flight, I am going to have a crate built that has a separate compartment for each bird. I also received special permission from Dave to have an extra compartment built into the crate so I can put some food in there so I can feed the birds as soon as I claim them from the cargo people. (Lories are nectar-feeding birds, after all!)

I then inquired about the price of a one-way ticket and Dave told me that it would cost $2800! Yes, you did read that correctly. After he had gotten my heart pounding, he then said a round-trip ticket would be far cheaper so he started entering return dates and found that the cheapest round trip ticket was $620 (not including the cost for shipping the birds). This was a little discouraging since I’d already found a much cheaper one way ticket on Singapore Air for $302, but Dave informed me that my ticket was far superior: the particular ticket I am looking at allows me to change either the departure or return flight dates for a paltry $250, although I cannot sell the return flight to anyone due to FAA restrictions. I was unconvinced of the superiority of this ticket, but decided not to pursue the matter. I am just happy to have found a direct flight from JFK to Frankfurt that will take me and the birds without holding my bank account hostage.

After calling my veterinarian friend in Florida, Susan Clubb, who has been so helpful and encouraging to me, I got the contact information for Tom, whom she recommends to build the shipping crate for me. Tom and I will speak tomorrow morning on the phone while I am at my own veterinarian‘s office with one of my yellow-bibbed lories, having her re-tested to see if she really does have diabetes. Incidentally, my personal veterinarian informed me that I do not have to get my birds vaccinated against H5 avian Influenza at all: simply having a negative H5 test (blood? poop? not sure yet) for each bird is sufficient. So I made yet another phone call to the USDA, and they confirmed this, so I am very pleased.

Of course, I have to contact the German veterinarian to learn what medical tests, if anything, they need before we all leave, but it appears that after a few days of intense telephone and internet research, I have mostly gotten this thing mastered.

Now, all I have to do is get the mysterious Wayne to come out and look over the books and parrot cages and give me a written estimate for packing and moving everything, finalize a date to pack everything, locate and purchase five collapsible cages for the birds that I can pack into my checked luggage, get an official letter from my local police chief saying that I have not been arrested and am not a criminal, give my scummy landlord a 30-day written notice to vacate, cancel my electricity and cell phone, file an official change of address with the post office and find someone in NYC to pick up my mail from the post office and send it to me (only the books, the PO will forward letters).

Last, this evening, one of my readers sent email about bookshelves, saying that the proper way to build a house is to build the bookshelves first, and then build the house around the books! I was pleased to know that I am not the only person in the world who has her priorities straight, and the pictures of these bookshelves were beautiful, so I wrote back, asking how I could build these shelves myself. So who knows? You might be reading about DIY bookshelves next spring .. stay tuned.

Comments

  1. #1 Parrot Cages
    October 15, 2009

    I feel your pain! I am from the UK and have recently returned home after an 18 month work placement in America. Arranging the travel arrangements and everything else involved to get my African Grey over and back was the most stressful part of the move.

    Its well worth it in the end though! After moving to a new country on my own my bird was a great companion in those first few weeks :-)

  2. #2 Firebyrd
    October 15, 2009

    I’m glad it’s another day that’s good news. Dr. Clubb is awesome, it’s good she’s working with you. I’ve only met her once briefly when she spoke to us, but I was very impressed by her.

  3. #3 Luna_the_cat
    October 16, 2009

    I think some of my emails to you must have ended up in the spam bin. A few weeks ago I had sent you a message with links to KLM’s animal transport people — I recommended them because they ARE very good. At this point it sounds like you’re well along with Lufthansa and that point might work out better, but you could keep KLM in mind as a fallback plan.

    But it sounds like things are finally moving in the right direction! Am keeping my fingers crossed for you too.

    On a side note, I am concerned — I sent you a $5 check for the book you sent me, back around 8th September, and you haven’t cashed it yet, I see from my bank statement. Did you GET it?

  4. #4 "GrrlScientist"
    October 17, 2009

    luna — read part 8 to learn about who i am flying with!