As you may know, Mick is a rescue dog and is still wary of new people. So, we weren’t sure how he’d do in a crowded airport and in a confined space on the plane where he couldn’t get away from the hustle of the crowd. Bottom line, he exceeded all our expectations.
Mick loves to be with Michael and will put up with most anything to be by his side. He loves me, but Michael is THE ONE. We tried to do everything to make his trip as stress free as possible and he did everything he could to be the best traveler.
Mick “got into the mood” of being around a lot of moving people when we were in and out of the Sofitel lobby on Friday and Saturday. Everyone thought he was so gorgeous and he planted himself right by our sides and looked regal. As long as he could see Michael he was fine – cautious and alert, but fine. When we were leaving for the airport, we got onto the airport shuttle first so he could be in the back and would be able to see people approaching. We got to the airport 3 hours before our flight to be sure there would be no issues checking us all in and we would have time to walk Mick before he got on the plane for a 3.5 hour flight.
Upon arriving at the airport, Michael and Mick stayed at the curb with our 6 checkable bags and 4 carry on’s while I tried to find a porter. We knew we would have to check-in inside the terminal because of Mick (curbside check in wasn’t an option) but there was no way we could manage all the luggage and Mick. I found a great porter who had a lovely accent and great attitude who managed our mountain of luggage and took us to the front of the line to get checked through. He was from Haiti and we had a good conversation about life while waiting for the agent to free up. We had all our necessary paperwork – Mick’s current health certificate, vaccination records and import permit for Grenada – in addition to our passports, tickets and clearance to take Mick on the plane. There was a slight delay as they checked to see if we needed a USDA seal but it got sorted right out and we were on our way to security.
Yeah for TSA Precheck. As you can imagine, the security lines for American Airlines in Miami are huge. American is the airport’s largest airline and takes up 2 terminals and 70 gates. We waltzed right up to the Precheck “line” and there was no one in front of us. We got our tickets and passports reviewed right away and then breezed through to the monitor screening. With TSA Precheck you do not need to take out liquids, you can keep your shoes on and computers can stay in your carry-on luggage – YES! Michael buzzed when he went through the screening machine, as was expected, because of his knee replacement. Mick and I sailed through and I just needed a quick swipe on my hands to be cleared.
Next we headed to the gate to drop our bags and to figure out where we could walk Mick. The airport has a few pet relief areas but most are not fenced and are in extremely high traffic areas (people and cars). I thought Mick would be too “alert” to relax and do his business while being kept on a short leash. There was one fenced-in area two terminals away, between Terminals E and F. We were at Gate D9 and had to pass 20 more gates just to get to the beginning of the next terminal. Talking with airport personnel we figured it would take 15-20 minutes each way, plus whatever time Mick needed to go to the bathroom – it was 3:10 and our flight was leaving at 5:00. I left Michael at the gate with all our carry-on luggage and power-walked Mick through the terminals. We were moving!
The pet relief area was on the island between the commercial and passenger vehicle lanes so traffic was zipping by on both sides. The space was about 20 feet wide at one end slivering down to 5 feet at the other end and 30ish feet long – small! It had a fence that was about 2 feet tall, no double security gate, part of it was paved and part had some grass, trees and plants. Not ideal, but I was thrilled to find it and to be able to let Mick off the leash and roam about. Mick relieved himself and we wouldn’t need to worry about him being uncomfortable while on the plane. We power-walked back. Mick was panting and I was sweating, but mission accomplished!
Our great friend, Dan Carey, is an American Airlines pilot and he contacted the pilot flying our plane to let him know we would be on board. As we were being paged by the pilot, Dan’s wife Alison called and said she was just a few gates away and would stop by. I was astonished. Dan and Alison live in New York, not Miami. Dan had flown into Miami the night before and was on a layover before flying to Europe. Alison flew down to meet him for dinner and was on stand-by trying to get back to NYC. Wild! It was so great to see Al – she and Dan are wonderful friends and this really made the trip extra fun.
We met the pilot and he invited Mick into the cock pit. He was so excited and said he’d had a lot of kids in his seat but this was the first dog. Mick made himself right at home. I’m not sure what the other passengers thought as they boarded the flight. After his photo-op, Mick settled right down into the bulkhead floor space and cautiously watched everyone board, but seemed quite relaxed overall.
The flight was great – We were flying Business Class in order to get the bulkhead seat with extra leg room so Mick could lie in front of us and not spill into the aisle. The bonus was we got to check 6 bags, they fed us a real meal (!) and had Sapphire Gin and tonic for Michael, good wine for me, all at no extra charge – we were living large!
Since we were in the first row, we were off the plane first which worked well for Mick. In Grenada, you need to walk down stairs and cross the tarmac to get to the terminal. We got right through immigration, got our bags and then got on line for customs. We were in the red line because we needed to declare Mick. It was a long wait because all the students were coming back from the holiday break and needed to also get their electronics checked through. Mick’s paperwork checked out fine and we just needed to pay a one-time VAT tax to get him into the country.
We were out the door, into the sweet Grenada air and jumped into a king cab pickup truck driven by Marcus Gabriel, the gentleman we are renting our 4 wheel drive from, to be driven to our new home in Woburn. We got to the house around 11:30 PM and were on the pool deck by midnight, just in time to see spectacular fireworks for Sir Royston’s 70th birthday (the owner of the fabulous Spice Island Beach Resort). We joked that it was staged for our benefit and it was a wonderful way to be welcomed home to Grenada.