Flying with the cats is always complicated, especially as rules and procedures seem to change randomly between each time we go, so Honeybuns is quite anxious to have everything sorted out well beforehand. Accordingly I had been on the phone with SAS several weeks before our flight and made sure we could take the cats along and eventually received confirmation as both SMS and email. Somewhat later, as I was sorting my email, I noted that the email version was rather longer than the SMS and among several other restrictions stated that each animal had to be kept in a separate cage. This was inconvenient, not least since experience suggests the cats feel safer when they are together. New phone calls. No, that rule is only relevant for animals in the cabin, not in the hold. Oh.
So we trundle into the airport, check in, drop off our bags and are directed to Special Baggage to drop off the cats. As we are getting the cats out so the cat cage can be X-rayed, a uniformed fellow turns up and stops the proceedings. The rules have been changed that same morning and the sturdy wicker cage Honeybuns has used for the last 14 years is no longer accepted on board. Sorry. We are pretty incensed at the non-existent notice. The official is sympathetic but explains they have received an injunction and absolutely can’t make any exceptions. On the other hand, they’ll do their best to get us and cats to our destination. Negotiations with various instances ensues, trying to arrange something workable. In the end we are rebooked for a later flight while Honeybuns jumps into a taxi for the nearest zoo shop.
While she is away I hang around Special Baggage, which I realise also is the entrance to the restricted parts of the airport. There are apparently repairs underway as groups of craftsmen go in and out. Each craftsman is carefully patted down before they are let in. Exactly what the security person is looking for is unclear, as each craftsman is carrying in his overalls at least two big knives, a hammer, a dozen screwdrivers and sundry other tools and the sturdy knee pads probably could be made of Semtex. Possibly security just likes feeling up well-built men.
Honeybuns eventually returns with a huge cage, certified for air transport. The cats are very suspicious, but in they go, only to be taken out again a minute later for the mandatory X-ray of the cage. Finally they are carted away and we can pass through security control with our new boarding passes. We profusely thank the airport staff, who in turn promise to improve the information about the rules.
We arrive in Umeå two hours later than planned, and to our relief manage to fit the big cage into the Honeymother’s car.