Cat on a Hot Tin Route

Frequent Flier Feline.

11 months ago…

“Nope.” Lance shook his head, like he was angry that the thought had even crossed my mind. “It’s not going to happen. You take her or she stays here.”

This was one of our first of many fights about our move to California. Perhaps an omen we should have paid attention to?

At this point, we had submitted our resignation letters, ordered a Door-to-Door moving pod (recommended!), and plotted our cross-country drive from It’s Always Sunny Philadelphia to actually sunny California. After a few months of throwing applications into the electronic wind, I got a job in Riverside, a significant suburban area inland from Los Angeles.

Things were going pretty smoothly until we got to the problem of Kitty. There was no way she, as an elderly little feline, was going to make it 3000 miles over five days in our little Ford Fiesta (also recommended!).  How were we going to get Kitty to California?

Lance probably saw this as a golden opportunity to give Kitty the ol’ heave-ho, considering her white undercoat essentially destroyed two chairs. But, c’mon, she’s furry family and there was no way I was leaving her behind.

Thankfully, good fortune presented itself: we had to be back in Philadelphia a few weeks after our move for the wedding of Lance’s brother. Afterwards, we’d both fly back from Philadelphia, thus creating an easy way to transport Kitty west, like a fuzzy Manifest Destiny.

Problem was, Lance and I were taking separate flights, Lance leaving a day later as he said his goodbyes to his Philly family and friends. His flight was a straight six hours from Philly to Los Angeles, whereas mine had a two-hour layover in Denver.  Obviously, Kitty would travel back with Lance, as the total travel time would be less than seven hours.

“If she goes with me, she’ll get a urinary tract infection!” I cried.

“Good,” said Lance. Lance could not foresee a future where he was responsible for taking a cat on a plane. To him, it was a non-starter.

So I begrudgingly took Kitty to the airport, paying US Airways’ $125 pet travel fee to carry Kitty into the plane’s cabin, where she would sit under my seat to Denver, then connecting on to LAX. Oh, no room for any personal items underneath your seat because of your pet? Well, too bad, because if you have a pet you somehow also lose the right to a carry-on bag too!!!! SCREW YOU, ECONOMY TRAVELERS!!!–major U.S. airlines.

After about four hours, Kitty and I landed in Denver, where of course tornado sirens were going off every few minutes. Ugh. Though Kitty’s little travel carrier was lined with lots of pee pads, I was positive we couldn’t afford a significant delay without an ammonia-scented accident.

Our two-hour layover slowly increased to two-and-a-half, then three, then four as the weather wreaked havoc on the flight schedule.

And then the Bad Thing: our flight out of Denver got cancelled.


Finally, we were placed on stand-by for a later flight out to LA. My nerves had caused me to drink excessively so of course I was dragging my cat into the men’s room of the Denver airport every 25 minutes (maybe I had a urinary tract infection?).

“I’m sorry, sir, you’ll have to pay the pet fee again,” the attendant at the gate counter said as we got cleared to board the later flight.

“What? Why?” I stammered, frazzled, angry and tired. “I paid the pet fee already on my last leg.”

“Yes…” she went on, “But since you were on a US Airways flight and now you’re boarding an American flight, you have to pay again.”

“Are you kidding me?” I said. “Your two airlines merged. It’s the same ticket number. Are you saying that even though you’ve merged your reservation system, you haven’t merged your ‘pet fee’ system and therefore I’m stuck paying another $125?”

“That’s correct, sir.”

“You do realize that’s ridiculous, right?” I was, at this point, outwardly indignant, which I don’t get all that much.

Finally we got on the plane. Of course, throughout the entire, near 17-hour trip from door-to-door, Kitty was an incredible trooper and slept most of the time, never peeing in her carrier once.

We made it to California in one piece, though a little worse for the wear. Lance would arrive the next day and things, in flux over the weeks leading up and through the move, would finally level out.



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