Ransoming the dog (Part One)

The flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt takes almost 9 hours—not counting check in, airport security, boarding, customs, baggage claim… you get the idea. We arrived at the Atlanta airport around 3 pm after dropping off Siggy at the cargo terminal in his crate (complete with paperwork and all) and took off at 6 pm. So with the flight and time change, it was around 9 am in Frankfurt when we arrived. I didn’t sleep well on the plane, so I’d been up since 6 am the day before. We had to be in Nürnberg before 6pm in order to pay our deposits and pick up the keys for our apartment so we had somewhere to sleep that night.

I mention this to set the mood for my experience with pet transport in Frankfurt. After clearing immigration, picking up our bags and loading them on three baggage trolleys (six duffels, three carry-ons, and backpacks, all loaded to the max), we set off to find the dog. The first Lufthansa agent I asked told me he would be in oversize baggage (despite my insistence that he was cargo, not baggage), so I left Sheridan and Kevin hanging out with the bags and went to search for oversize baggage claim. Not surprisingly, I didn’t find Siggy.

I did, however, find someone who could direct me to animal cargo. I had to drive there. “Out the main entrance, around to gate 24 or 25, check in at the gate” (all this in German, mind you!). Luckily I had reserved a van, knowing how much stuff we were going to have.

Back to S & K, we headed toward the section of the airport where the car rental agents were. Couldn’t find the right counter. Turns out it was further down, past the construction, out through the parking thru-way, in another section of the airport—but we finally found it. At the counter for the company I’d reserved, there was no one—rather, there was no one working. There were several customers waiting for someone in charge to show up.

He finally arrived, took care of the folks in front of us, then we finally got our ride! Found the van—a BIG 9-passenger van, not the kind of thing I’m happy about driving around the narrow German roads. I dub it “Vanzilla.” We loaded Vanzilla with all our various baggage and went in search of the dog.

This was about 11:00.

I found Gate 24—the place looked like a bunker—and pulled in. The guard at the gate asked for my pass (still in German, remember)—I had no idea what he needed. He directed me to a small building at the rear of the parking lot behind me, told me I needed to register there as a visitor to get a pass. Of course, I couldn’t back Vanzilla out of the gate—he had to let me through to turn around and go back to the building. So I did, registered as a visitor to Lufthansa Cargo (which involved several back-and-forth trips as he needed my license, passport, and plate number), and got a map to the cargo building.

Upon arriving at Lufthansa Cargo, the folks working there informed me that animal transport isn’t in Lufthansa Cargo—it’s in a separate building—at Gate 25. So back out and off to the next gate.

It’s now about 11:30. Did I mention that we need to be in Nürnberg before 6?

We find the “Animal Lounge” at Gate 25. It’s in the parking lot before the gate—so no registration. I leave S & K in the van while I take Siggy’s paperwork into the Lounge. Upstairs, to the right, is an office with a small counter—lots of people working, but nobody working the counter. They all seem terribly busy, can’t be bothered to help me (“Moment, bitte!”) It takes about 10 minutes, but finally someone comes up, looks over my paperwork, and tells me Siggy’s not there yet, to wait a bit.

So I wait.

And wait.

I see someone come in with several packs of paperwork, one of which I recognize as Siggy’s. Ah, progress!

They process the packs, then return to me at the counter. “Take this to the other end of the hall for veterinary clearance.” Apparently Siggy has to be checked in by an official vet for the state of Bayern. This costs €78 and takes about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile Kev and Sheridan are sound asleep in Vanzilla. At least the seats are comfy. Seeing them sleeping peacefully when I’m strung out from no sleep, hungry, and thirsty, I hate them with every fiber of my being.

To be continued…

Leave a Reply