We chose Continental Airlines as our carrier because they have a good reputation for quality animal care. However, our plan hit a snag when we discovered that non pressurized propeller planes were the only ones flying into West Virgina that evening. Animals require a pressurized compartment for fear of death from extreme temperatures, or lack of oxygen among other risks.
Pressurized jets were flying into Columbus, Ohio, though, and Columbus is only about three hours from Huntington so that seemed reasonable enough. I figured I could knock out two birds with one stone because my car needed repair work, which is only available in Columbus, and I could pick up Porter later that day at the airport.
Tuesday was the big day. I left for Columbus at 8:30 a.m. to make my car appointment at noon. I would simply sit at the dealership while my car was being repaired and then fill the remaining gap of time with a trip to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, a stop at Barnes and Noble and just enough time to pick up Porter at 6:45 p.m. The pig and I would then drive from Columbus to West Virginia, arriving back home around 11p.m. It was going to be a long day, but doable and worth it.
At 6 p.m. I received word that Porter's flight was delayed. At 7 p.m. I learned it had been delayed, yet again. Another hour passed prompting another delay and an idea that I had perhaps ought to start looking for a pet friendly hotel. At this rate, I could be sitting in the cargo parking lot all night. So, I adjusted my plans, which meant I would drive back the next morning with my little pig in tow. I found a room near the airport.
I contacted the hotel and was asked what kind of pet I had with me. I just knew if I said pig there would be no room at the inn.
"Uh, puppy?" I said.
"No problem," the clerk said.
Why did I tell them puppy, I thought to myself.
Once I got to the hotel and began to check in, I knew I had to be truthful. It would either set me free, not a good thing in this case because I had nowhere else to go, or maybe the attendant would shed pity on this weary traveler.
The desk clerk asked again, "What kind of pet?"
"Well, I said puppy on the phone, but in all honesty, I was afraid you wouldn't let us in if I told you the truth." The clerk's eyes grew wide and her forehead began to crease.
"I'm actually waiting on a miniature piglet."
After a brief pause, a smile began to cross the face of the clerk who became excited and agreed to let us stay only if she were able to pet the pig when we got there. Done deal. Whew, relief.
In the meantime, in my room, the calls kept coming from the airline, delay after delay. Finally, around 10:30 the flight was cancelled. Little Porter would spend the night in Newark, NJ. The same little Porter who earlier was running free with his brothers and sisters on their farm in California. I worried about him. I wondered if he would be fed and watered. I wondered if he were scared.
The next morning brought new plans. I left the hotel about 9:30 a.m. en route to the airport to pick up Porter who was due to arrive at 10:15 from NJ, to Cleveland, and then to Columbus.
At 10 a.m., Continental called to tell me the flight from Cleveland was delayed. Thirty minutes later, I was told the flight had been cancelled. Ok, I am thinking this can not be happening. He has been on a plane since 6 a.m. Tuesday morning when he left LAX. He needs food, water and to get out of that crate.
Thankfully, USA Kune Kune's Lori Enright, who was also the shipper, was on the phone with them, as well. Between the two of us, we got them to put him on a flight of cargo coming from Cleveland to Columbus around noon. When pigs fly, right?
At 12:15 I received a call from my new buddy Mark in the cargo bin to tell me the news I'd been waiting to hear, "your piggie is here." I was there within five minutes and sure enough little Porter had finally arrived. He was fine, but ready to get out of the crate. Unfortunately, we had a three hour drive back to the farm, but he was a good little fella all the way.
So, next time you hear "when pigs fly," you might think twice...pigs can fly, but it can be quite taxing and even if you have an airline to assist with this incredible event, it takes quite an effort!