Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Trials and Tribulations of a Pet Owner

This isn't my cat, but I think mine would hate this just as much.
Just a quick reminder, if you've been thinking about getting a pet while in the Foreign Service. Go ahead and don't do that. We love our cat, but... she won't be replaced when she eventually passes. Transferring our cat between posts has been a challenge.

Vet in Chennai: $40
Quarantine office expediter in Chennai: $200
Pet in cabin fee for flight to US: $150
Vet in US for vaccine + health certificate (two visits): $150
Pet in cabin fee for flight to BA: $125

That's $665 to move the pet, which isn't so bad. The real pain came from the side consequences.

Since I was travelling with the cat, we didn't want to take Consultations at the beginning or end of home leave (cat-hotel-fees are often vary expensive and would be a hassle), so we agreed to cost construct our flights to take my consultation days in the middle of home leave. What we didn't realize (at the time) was that choise locked us in to flying to post from DC (or cost-constructing our flight based on that value). We've since learned that it costs half as much for the government to fly us from DC to Buenos Aires as it does from our home leave location in Florida. Cost construct flights would have cost us almost $550 extra per person, on top of the $55 fee for doing so. Looking at $1700 to split the fare from Florida to Buenos Aires... we decided to book our own flights. I mean heck, for $2000 we could fly direct on Areolineas Argentinas (which we couldn't do using government tickets, due to the Fly America Act). It sucks to shell out for our own flights, but maybe in some twisted way it'd be worth it to cut our flight time from 15 hours to 9.5. Or so we thought. Unfortunately, that airline (and almost every airline) doesn't allow pets in cabin to travel to Argentina. Cargo travel is notoriously bad for animals, so we're back to looking at 15 hour connecting flights. The only saving grace was that we were able to use credit card points to book our flights (90,000 Chase Sapphire points, transferred to United + $250 for taxes). That's slightly cheaper ($1150 dollar value, since the Sapphire points could have been redeemed for one cent each of cash).

Running total: $1800

Now, some of that cost is obviously due to my mistake and lack of understanding how my flights would work if I split my home leave... Still, it never would have come up, if I hadn't had the cat, because we would have scheduled our consultations at the end of our home leave, thus negating the problem all together. As I said, we love our cat... and although transferring and home leave have been stressful for all of us, she's the only one that has no understanding of what's happening or why. (Not that our three year old fully grasps the concept either.)

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