Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shipping Update

Delta has raised their fee for smaller dogs... under 15 pounds... by $50. This means those OVER 15 pounds are going to cost at least that much more to ship. I know this because this morning I shipped a puppy for a friend... pup AND crate weighed 28 pounds and the cost was $273 (with no declared value which is actually insurance.) Add in the cost of the crate, state health certificate, rabies shot and declared value and you're right around $400 for shipping.

Since Delta is my only option out of here, the rest of this post is specifically about them although it probably applies to ALL airlines.

There is some sort of disconnect between the official Delta rules, the animal reservation desk and the personnel at counters in the airports. Sometimes this works to the shipper's advantage but much more often, it results in frustration and hard feelings.

You can not make a reservation without sitting through a 2-3 minute recorded dissertation about the basic shipping requirements, with the new rules on acceptable/non acceptable crates taking up most of the time. When you finally get a person on the line, they go over all the rules... except the business on crates... unless you make sure to tell them "been there, done it more often than YOU." One of the rules I'm told about every time, and find amusing every time, is "You must be there AT LEAST 2 hours before the flight." Probably that is true at medium to large airports. Tri-Cities has one gate. Actually, we have two but the second one is used only when an aircraft is broken down in front of the first one... which happens not often, but not rarely either. If I showed up by 5:30 AM for the 7:30 flight, my counter people would NOT be happy as they are busy checking in the people for the 6:15 AM flight (who were most likely told to be there 2 hours before the flight) and don't want to deal with a dog. Technically... at least according to the reservation desk... I can ship on the 6:15. According to the counter people... forget about it.

So, shipping my friend's puppy...
she was supposed to go yesterday (Wednesday) and I got her Tuesday night. Wednesday morning, 6:10 AM, I pull up in front of our passenger terminal (we don't have a cargo facility) and reached in to get the crate which I had not inspected the night before. To my horror, it was the forbidden type... it had LATCHES holding the top and bottom together (instead of nuts and bolts.) Now, I had told my friend she was going to have to shop around for an acceptable crate as, for years, the latch kind has been what is available everywhere, especially at Walmart. No sense in going inside, so pup and I returned home and went back to bed (after I rescheduled her flight for today.) To be fair, for years I have disliked the latch crates as the latches tend to pop open... when using them, I usually put duct tape over the latches. However, they are still being marketed as "airline approved" so I'm sure my friend is not the only one who has bought one.

Luckily for me, since I could not find an acceptable crate, my groomer gave me an old one she had (refusing my offer of the new one in exchange since she is overrun with crates.) And this morning, 6 AM, pup and I were at the airport. Now here's where there is the disconnect... first the guy (who is new) says to me "Prepaid, right?" And since the choice is only collect or prepaid, I said "Yes." Remember this exchange as it comes up later. He starts checking in the pup and mentions the flight will be leaving on time... at least that is the way it looks right then (before the flight crew arrives.) I asked if the same flight the previous morning had been cancelled (which is what pup's new momma told me when I called to tell her of the change in plans.) Counter guy says "No, it was delayed because of maintenence issues... well, um, yeah, I guess you could say it WAS cancelled." Like I said, he's new and the correct airline-speak doesn't come naturally as yet. Just in passing, I said "Glad I didn't try shipping her yesterday, then, since I had the wrong kind of crate." He asked what was wrong with it and I told him it had latches holding the top and bottom together. And he says "What's wrong with that? Isn't that the way they come?" So much for everyone at Delta being on the same page. But it gets better. Some 15 minutes later, he's handing me my copy of the airbill... and he hasn't collected my check for the shipping. I pass that over to him and he says "YOU said it was PREPAID." Now, my checkbook has been out the whole time, sitting on the counter in front of me, in plain sight, check all made out to Delta except for the exact amount... since, according to the reservation folks they can only give me an estimate and the exact amount will be determined at the counter.... Which is what I tell him. And he snarls "No, prepaid means it's prepaid before you get here." When I ask how that could be, he tells me people use credit cards. And he doesn't know how to take a check. Which means he has to call in the shipping expert who happens to be working the gate, alone, and can't just walk away to come handle HIS problem. Another 15 minutes later, the lady with the experience has straighten things out and has told him more than once "We'll discuss this later...." and I left.

Here's the thing, a few years back, Delta and NW merged and at my small airport, most of the Delta people (who were actually ASA or America Southeast Airlines... personel...) left because they didn't want to take the substantial paycuts so the NW people... who had little to no cargo experience (because NW is too expensive AND has terrible scheduling) started working the Delta counter. This caused A LOT of problems for many months and I was having to book flights around the local counter's work schedules to be sure someone was there who actually knew how to use the computer. Thankfully, that has been resolved... at least to the point that new people who are just learning the system USUALLY have someone who knows what they are doing around somewhere in the airport.

Another thing, the last few times I've called the reservation desk, I've spoken with people who speak English like they are not doing in phonically. THAT is a big plus. I'm not sure it is worth and additional $50 per shipment.

Emy's still packing around her brood internally.
And Cotton is done breeding after being covered a couple times... let's all cross our fingers. And toes. And eyes!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.