We'll start with the news that had me slamming my head against my desk today. It's all about Operation Brit-Kittehs.
When I cancelled my Delta flight and booked through Iceland Air, I made sure beforehand to call IA, as well as British Customs and the animal control people at Heathrow, just to make sure this would be fine. I was assured numerous times, after explaining my trepidation following the Delta incident, that Iceland Air would transport my boys in the cargo hold per the rules of British Customs. So I made my reservation and began shopping for an appropriately-sized kennel for the cats.
Today I called IA to officially book the boys on the flight. The woman I talked to said it was done, that I was to bring them to the baggage counter the day of the flight and pay the extra cost then. All was right with the world.
Then I got a phone call.
Turns out I had to do the actual booking through the cargo department, so I was given another number to call. Needless to say, I could feel something wasn't right. I called the cargo department, and after a protracted and hideously frustrating conversation, was told that the only (ONLY) city in the U.S. that they don't ship cargo from? You guessed it. Minneapolis. And the nearest city they do ship cargo from? Denver. The one in fucking COLORADO.
This is where the headdesking began.
Grinding my teeth, I called the reservation line back and got another woman on the line, who was absolutely flabbergasted by this news. So much so that she took my number down and promised to call me back tomorrow once she'd sorted this all out. I do kind of love her right now. However, I don't hold any delusions at this point that I'm going to be able to bring my cats with me from Minneapolis to London.
So now we're on to plan... I don't know, R, maybe?
After spending most of my afternoon researching online, I decided my best bet is going to be switching my IA flight from Minneapolis to Denver. Then, because no flights, trains, or buses going that route are willing to let me bring two cats on their vehicles, I will rent a car and fucking drive to fucking Denver with my fucking cats. Because yes, it is that important to me to bring them. And it will still be far cheaper than having a company ship them for me.
The only sticky part of this plan is how much I can wring out of IA. I fully expect a free change of my flight. I'm hoping for perhaps a hotel voucher in Denver since the fourteen-hour drive means I'll need to spend the night at the airport rather than driving all night to make a 5:00pm-ish flight. What I'm going to try extra hard for is to get them to foot the bill for the rental car. I'm guessing that will be a no, but I'm sure as hell going to try.
Also, maybe a bump up to first class. I mean, c'mon people!
Fear not, there's still good news. It starts with a UPS "we missed you!" note on my door Monday evening. I thought it was a package related to something else, so sort of forgot about it until the "um, hallo? Y U NO HOME?" notice I found on Tuesday. I decided to just work my way to the UPS store via eleventeen buses to pick it up myself, since they apparently only deliver during work hours and insisted on getting my signature.
Eleventeen buses and a mile or so walk to the UPS place later, I was surprised to be handed a shipping envelope rather than a package.
It can't be my visa, I thought. They said they'd email me when it was approved or denied. Plus I'm supposed to arrange payment for a courier to deliver it to me.
I poked at the envelope enough to determine the contents were decidedly passport-sized. I immediately ripped it open, pulled out what was indeed my passport (still not lost in San Diego or Louisville, thank goodness), and began to thumb through the pages.
There it was. One page thirteen. (Because OF COURSE page thirteen.) My Tier 4 student visa, pasted to the page, valid from August 17, 2012 to August 17, 2013.
Operation Gief Citizenship is officially a success.
This was the last hurdle in getting me to the UK for a year. I got accepted to Queen Mary, got my financials sorted, kept my grades up, did all the paperwork (ALL the paperwork), and now I'm 100% official.
I think we'll leave it on that extremely happy note. Hopefully there will be another satisfied update on Operation Brit-Kittehs soon.