I am stranded in the Orlando airport, a full day after I was supposed to already be on the ground in Panama. I was refused boarding by American Airlines because they decided I did not have sufficient documentation for my cats to fly: after telling me that they could not fly because their kennels were too big (not) and that they could not fly because the temperatures on this early morning flight would exceed 85 degrees F at their destination (Panama) where they will be living for the next two years.
See, you have to have a veterinarian health certificate (done), within ten days of the scheduled flight (done), authenticated by an office of the USDA (done), and then apostiled by EITHER the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy (in Washington, D. C.) OR the Foreign Office in your state, Georgia (done). Then, you have to e-mail these scanned documents to the Panama Embassy in Panama to let them know the cats are coming (done) three days in advance in order to request that they have home quarantine (done). Oh, heck, no. American Airlines said that I needed additional documentation from the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy that the cats were good to fly. One eensy-weensy little problem: the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy does not provide any such certification, which would essentially be clearing the cats through their customs even before we board a flight to get there to submit ourselves to their customs. Not happening – either on the Panama side or on the American side.
I looked into renting yet ANOTHER car to drive to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, so that I could have my existing paperwork apostiled in Florida, like I already had it apostiled in Georgia, but I don’t have enough room on my credit card, since another rental car company (rentalcars.com) refused to refund my pre-paid rental online when the pickup was refused in Orlando because I have a USA driver’s license, meaning I had to rent another car for 600 dollars cash (plus the 400 dollars they would not refund). Because of this, there is not room on my card to book another car, and they won’t book a one-day rental for cash, even though they were perfectly willing to book an eleven-day rental for cash. Obviously, if I can’t afford to rent a car, I also can’t just bypass American Airlines and book tickets on another carrier, either. I thought of that, too.
It does not matter anyway, because even if I went to Tallahassee to get this Florida apostile, since I am departing from a Florida airport instead of a Georgia airport, I would still only have a STATE apostiled health certificate for my cats (like I have now), not a PANAMANIAN apostiled document, which is what American Airlines is demanding.
I have one option left. I do have enough money to book a cab to the nearest veterinarian, and I can ask that my three beloved pets be euthanized. I cannot just turn them loose to scrounge a living on their own in Orlando, and I won’t take them to the animal shelter, because that is where adult cats are most often euthanized anyway: kittens get adopted, not adult cats. I am out of options, and I am already a day late getting to Panama for my new job – which I have to have. I’ve already notified them that I will be late reporting to work, and I can’t take much more time. I am not independently wealthy such that I don’t HAVE to work. I am already in tears as I write this, and I have been in tears on and off for the last thirty-six hours. I’m out of ideas. I did my best, and it was not good enough.
Meanwhile, I am here in the airport, sleeping on a bench with three cats in small crates who need to be walked and relieved every few hours, fed and watered. The wifi works here only on the third floor, and I have to go to the first floor (with them and all my luggage for two years’ stay) to take them outside to pee. And every few minutes, an announcement is made at this airport not to leave your luggage unattended. I am here alone – I have to pee sometimes, too. Oh, well.
And people wonder why I left America.