Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Further Amazing Adventures of Ginn the Dog

I refer you to my previous post on this subject, The Return of the Canine.

To summarize

My wife Rachel went to Toronto for nine months on a postdoc. She intended to bring my step-son Eitan's dog Ginn with her, as Eitan was already there. The dog was locked into a cage, drugged, and the door tied, but El Al's baggage handlers still managed to lose her in the five minutes it took to transport her from our hands to the plane.

My wife searched with El Al security for several hours, couldn't find her, and eventually went without her on the next flight. Two and a half weeks later, an El Al stewardess happened to see my dog running around the El Al area of the airport. Through a few connections, she got to Koololev, one among many organizations who were aware of my story. A few hours of further searching the airport together with the stewardess, and I got Ginn back.

During this time, Ginn was visible often to El Al staff in the airport, but no one had contacted me previously because El Al hadn't bothered to notify any of its staff to do so. The stewardess who noticed her and contacted me did so entirely on her own volition and without any assistance from El Al. El Al never hired anyone to search for her and trap her, and never offered us any sort of compensation for the loss or my time and effort spent in tracking her down, other than refunding the exorbitant transport fee we paid ("which includes insurance") (still waiting for that, actually). And flying Rachel first class after her missed flight.

The latest chapter

Eitan came to Israel for two weeks and made a happy reunion with Ginn.

Rachel meanwhile finally received a call from Meirav at El Al that they were going to pay for the services of one Terminal for Pets to help us transport Ginn to Toronto when Eitan returned from his vacation. Meirav promised to help me in any way she could.

Orah was the contact at TfP. She was amazing, and was willing to send drivers to Jerusalem and pick up the dog, take her to the vet, etc.. etc.., and bring her back again. And then come again to take her to the airport. In the end, we arranged so that she only came once on Monday morning. She would do everything needed and then meet Eitan at the airport in the evening.

Orah said that our cage was really too small for Ginn and she would loan us a larger one to transport Gin in the plane. We could just leave the cage at the airport in Toronto and they would get it back, somehow. However, since we needed the larger cage for the return trip next May, we asked to buy the cage. We also asked, but El Al wouldn't cover the cost. Nor would El Al cover the cost of the additional shots Ginn needed again.

Eitan and Ginn met up at the airport, and the plane was scheduled to leave at 12:30 am, Tuesday morning. Someone from TfP helped check the dog through and escorted her onto the plane. All's well.

Only, the flight got canceled! El Al rebooked Eitan on their next flight to Toronto, which was 3:00 pm Tuesday, 15 hours later. Ginn was removed from the plane and given back to Eitan's care.

El Al gave Eitan a voucher for a cab ride to Jerusalem, but none of the cabs would take him. He tried three of them, and each driver said that a voucher wasn't worth his time and then refused. Eitan elected to sleep the night in the airport and just wait it out until the next plane.

El Al also gave him a food voucher for one meal. Even so, that wasn't going to cover the dog he had with him! Luckily, Eitan was allowed to go outside, so he could walk the dog.

In the morning when I updated Orah, she sent her husband to deliver some dog food to Ginn, which was above and beyond the call of duty. I couldn't reach Meirav of El Al all morning, but I heard from Orah that Meirav had said that TfP would not be rehired to check the dog through for the next flight, since El Al didn't want to pay for their services twice (I believe the service is around $80).

I was rather pissed at this, since the dog was still in Israel and it was still El Al's fault. Around 12:25 I contacted Eitan to see if anyone from El Al had contacted him yet, and they hadn't. At 12:30 I finally got through to Meirav of El Al. She was aware of the situation but hadn't contacted Eitan, claiming that his phone wasn't answering. I told her I had just spoken to him five minutes previously. She promised to check up on him and to personally escort the dog onto the plane in TfP's place.

Which is what happened, eventually, at 3:30 pm. I'm assuming that my not being able to reach Meirav earlier was a fluke, and I'm grateful for her taking charge once I managed to contact her.

Right now, Eitan's plane should be just about right over the location where the Titanic sunk, give or take a thousand miles or so.

The story will end when Eitan arrives in Toronto with the dog, safe and sound, in a few hours. Or so we hope.

Of course, then we have the return trip to think about.

Update: Eitan and Ginn arrived safely in Canada. Rachel has enjoyed a reunion with Ginn. All is well.



Friendless said...

I'd like to read this as a story about how bad El Al is, but I don't know of any airline that shows its customers any respect.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

I'm sure some are better than others.

Truthfully, El Al isn't so bad, except for their lack of follow through with problems. Their general service is about average, at least.