I've pretty much got it down what I need to do to get Tom out of Korea. I'll be heading back to the Vet about a week before we fly to get his final documents in order. I've got his carrier all ready to go, although I'm not sure whether to add a frozen cup of water for him in there.
Then I started to think about what's going to happen once I land in Seattle. After browsing endlessly on the Seattle International Airport website I wasn't finding the right answers. If you have ever traveled internationally you know that there are several steps to going from the plane to the sidewalk, at the airport. After some investigation I found the procedure at Seattle's airport to be much different from the experience I have had flying into San Francisco International Airport. What they do is have you first go through immigration, then you pick up your luggage and go through customs. After this you put your luggage back on a conveyor belt that will spit it out at the main terminal where you can exit. Where in that process do I pick up and show the papers for Tom?
I called the airline (KoreanAir) to see if they had the answer, since on the Seattle airport website it said, "Call your airline for further information" about picking up pets. After calling twice the answer I got was to get the cat via customs. Well where was the customs office or what did that mean? Their response was mostly that I meet up with my cat in the main terminal. But that didn't make much sense considering I go through customs before getting to the main terminal where you pick up your luggage. I finally found the number for the customs office at the airport and gave them a ring. Keep in mind I'm on Korean time and America was going to sleep (around 1am). Thankfully a nice gentleman answered the phone and told me the whole procedure.
I get Tom during the Customs process after I get off the plane. I'll have to give up my luggage a second time so it can go to the main terminal, but I'll be able to keep a hold of my pet after that. A few concerns I have is that they better have carts available during that middle process of picking up your luggage then letting it go. Otherwise little me is going to have a tough time hauling 2 large suitcases, a carry on and Tom through Customs and out again. I'm also concerned Tom might have done his business in the crate and things will be smelly at the airport. They have relief areas for dogs outside, but something tells me cats wouldn't do well in that space. I would buy those "pee pads" but you can't just buy one, the sell them in large packs. Maybe some paper towels stuffed inside would do?
After I get my luggage and can go on my way, my plan is to get a taxi and make it to my new home. Taxis allow pets right? I'll give an extra tip if it really is such an ordeal.
If you asked me whether I was starting to get nervous about the trip, I would tell you that it's a little bit. I think I'll mostly be on edge wondering if Tom is okay under the cabin and when I will see him when I get out. But many people do this all the time and so I'll have to trust the system. I just hope Tom has a good ride and doesn't come out too traumatized by this whole thing.
Tom, you can do it!