American Airlines = Worst Flying Experience EVER – for Pets, too

It didn’t surprise me when I heard that American Airlines was rated one of the worst in the industry. It made me laugh out loud when I read that it was one of the most hated businesses in the U.S., because in my opinion, it’s true.

Whoever designed the seats on American Airlines’ Boeing 747 apparently did not have comfort on their list of qualities. I have taken two flights on this plane cross-country and have never in my life been in so much discomfort – and pain. The seats are designed to curve inward – a very unnatural way for any human to have to sit for any amount of time. After doing some research, I see that I’m not the only one that feels this way about American Airlines seating.

This is a seat the goes back all the way. Imagine sitting for 12 hours in a seat designed like this that does not. Notice how the headrest leans forward. With the seat upright, your head leans forward for the entire flight. Even with the seat reclined your head is tilted forward.

And let me tell you – I weigh less than 130 pounds and am a size 6, so at my size I should have had plenty of room to move, right? Not on American Airlines. The first time I took this airline I ended up in the center seat. There is ZERO leg room. By the end of my flight I was literally in tears because I couldn’t move and was becoming numb from the waist down.

The second – and the last – time I flew American Airlines I thought I was lucky to get an exit seat, because they had far more leg room. However, the seats in the first exit rows do not tilt back. The seats in the second row do, but guess what? Mine was broken. So you have to sit tilted forward in the same way the seats are built.

Of course no one at American Airlines seems to give two birds on a naked pony fence about customer service. I informed the flight attendant of the broken seat, and I got a mere thank you for letting her know. No upgrades, no nothing.

Something else I didn’t know about exit rows is that they are freezing cold. I’m talking big, grown men are freezing cold sitting in them as well, and if you’re on a night flight, you can guarantee super freezing cold.

No food, water, or bathroom break for 22+ hours for your pets with American Airlines.

But my very worst experience during my last ever flight with AA was flying with my pets – 3 cats and a large dog. First of all, flying from Hawaii with a large dog has its limitations, so AA is only one of two airlines that will accept them. Upon leaving Hawaii, first we were told that our dog weighed too much and would have to fly cargo. This wasn’t the case when we flew into Hawaii, however. Then we were told that our dog’s crate was not large enough and that it would be cruel to allow him to fly with it. Now this is a crate that was purchased 5 months prior and arrived in Hawaii without any issues. Our dog is about 7 years old and didn’t grow within those months. He was able to stand up and turn around perfectly fine – and to be honest, he had more room in his crate than I did in my seating area on the plane. We were stuck leaving our mostly new crate with AA and purchasing one of theirs for another $99. The other issue is that the size of the crate wouldn’t fit on the flight we were scheduled to fly, so the dog had to be shipped to separate locations and on separate flights. Cha-ching!

Because of the crating issue, our flight had to be changed and was 7 hours off schedule. If you’re counting hours that our pets sat in the crates, yes, so far the cats – which had already been checked in – had been sitting in their crates so far for  a total of 7 hours without food and water. They were scheduled to be watered and fed within 12 hours of our layover. All in all, we flew and had layovers for more than 22 hours. Our pets sat in crates for 22+ hours, and when they arrived through the gate to us, it was very obvious that no food or water had been given to any of them. The food had been taped to the top of the crates and was INTACT when we arrived. Their water bowls were dry as a bone. It was obvious the dog had not been let out to pee as instructed. I was furious.

I never made a formal complaint to AA because the entire ordeal was simply exhausting. Plus, I figured all I’d get is an apology letter which really wouldn’t make a difference to me one way or the other. Blogging is the best way to allow people to know which airline not to use when transporting pets. Never again will I fly my pets on any airline, and I will never fly American Airlines myself again either.

“American Airlines sucks!” yelled the cat.

$2400/mo for Rent in Hawaii + Bad Neighbor = Insanity

I’ve been putting off blogging a lot, because I’ve been sick since we arrived in Hawaii. The fibromyalgia that I finally had under control is back in full force. I believe part of the reason I’ve been sick is due to the noise pollution we’ve been dealing with, thanks to our neighbor.

First, let me fill you in on trying to rent a place in Hawaii. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to return phone calls or accept pets, so when we found this place we thought we got lucky. We weren’t expecting to spend $2400/mo on a place, but that’s the going rent here if you don’t want to live in a dump or a 2×4’ room. The house is located within a homeowner’s association, which has typical rules. One is that dog’s can’t bark for more than 10 minutes at a time. So we were really surprised that our neighbor has gotten away with this racket. (*I have to note here that homes are extremely close together – as close as 8 feet apart.)

For the first few days after we moved in, things seemed quiet. Our neighbor supposedly has a “hobby” of fixing up old cars. We didn’t realize until we saw multiple vehicles in and out of the place that this “hobby” has become a 5 to 7 day-a-week ordeal, starting around 7am and ending at dinnertime. It has gone on for months, even after our first complaint (remember when I said no one is in a hurry here?). Grinding, sanding, cutting metal, and whatever else auto body people do is all we hear all day. I have been unable to study, read, write, or listen to Coursera videos for the courses I am taking. When my husband was home sick from work and could not hear the television, that is when he knew I wasn’t making things up or exaggerating. When I sent my friends this video, I think they finally understood why I was about to lose my mind.

We’ve seen this neighbor in confrontations, so we did not want to go directly to him with our complaint. Besides, I didn’t think it would help us if we said something to him and then went to someone in charge – he’d know for sure who turned him in. So I told our property manager what was going on, and when I showed her the video, she couldn’t believe it. I’m sure it was obvious who reported him, because we are the new people on the block. The HOA sent him a letter threatening to fine him, but the noise continues.

The worst day was when I awoke to paint fumes in the house. Not only are they incredibly toxic to us, but to the environment. (No wonder there are hardly any birds around!) The paint fumes have gotten better, but the sanding dust is in our house, and we did not realize that until we did a deep cleaning. I realized then that all of that dust (we keep our windows open) was gathering on my pillow. I’d noticed that every time I washed the sheets I could breathe better, but within a day or so, I had issues again. The sanding dust is caked against my walls and window ledges to the point that it has stained the paint. The only hope we have is for this guy to stop being so inconsiderate, or we’re going to have to move.

Holidays in Hawaii

I’m not a pork eater, so the tradition of savoring Kalua pig roasted in an imu on Thanksgiving did not appeal to me.  We brought our own tradition with us and cooked a meal with some family and friends for the day. One of the things we are used to on Thanksgiving is eating around 2pm, but in Hawaii it’s mostly done around dinnertime.

Christmas in Hawaii is much different than it is on the Mainland. I didn’t notice as many in-your-face “buy, buy, buy” ads, and no one was really in a hurry to buy anything. Black Friday happened, but nothing like everyone on the Mainland is used to. I didn’t experience the selfishness among the people in Hawaii as I was used to in the rest of the United States. It was a nice change of pace.

Where I come from, people begin decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend or right after that. We expected the entire island would be lit up with holiday lights. But that was not so. Except for large businesses in Waikiki and some churches and homes, there were very few places lit up. We realized quickly that it’s not because Hawaiians don’t celebrate Christmas; it’s that the price of electricity is so ridiculous in Hawaii that putting up a lot of lights or anything extra that requires power isn’t exactly cost efficient.

To give a price comparison, our home in Florida with running the air conditioning (and washer/dryer/etc.) all summer long, our electric bill averaged $175 at the highest month. In Hawaii, however, running the air conditioning a few nights in August for 23 days cost us $200. We learned quickly not to run the a/c – period. Still, every bill we received was $200 for the month. When we discussed decorating for Christmas, we decided to sell our pre-lit tree and outdoor lights and opt for something much wiser – a rosemary bush – because I could use it to cook with year-round.

Decorations at a church
How Santa gets to the island.

 

This yard had the most decorations in the area.

 

On a main highway

 

What Christmas Tree Shortage? http://news.hawaiibreakingnews.com/tweets/273456662977867777

 

All-American

 

The most affordable Christmas tree in Hawaii

 

 

First impressions during the first week in Hawaii

I’ve been a little behind on blogging these last few weeks, because I’ve been ill most of the time. 😦

These were my first impressions of Oahu while I still exhausted from jetlag. I was completely overwhelmed, because we had no permanent place to live and no jobs past a certain date. (For those new to this blog, we were temporarily staying with friends and still employed until my husband’s official retirement date.)

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1. Naturally, the airport was the first thing I saw when we landed. The view of the sunset past the runway from the plane’s window was gorgeous. I was surprised, however, that Honolulu International Airport was so outdated. Everything seemed to be from the 70s or 80s and very dull.

2. Since we arrived in Honolulu right at sunset, it was dark by the time we got off the plane. I didn’t get to see the island until the following day. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we learned we had been staying on the dry part of the island. Everything was brown. It was a shock, considering when most people think of Hawaii, they think of lush green grass and tropical flowers everywhere. I thought it resembled more of the desert in the Southwest than the beauty I was hoping to see. This was my first view of daylight on Oahu.

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3. I did manage to witness blooming white plumeria flowers, which was a first for me. Their scent was fantastic, but I think possibly a little too much for my allergies. What a shame! Also I noticed many blooming hibiscus flowers, one of the many plants I was unsuccessfully able to grow in my home state (see below).

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4. Traffic is a huge issue in Hawaii, especially in the Ewa Beach or Kapolei area. It takes forever to get anywhere, but on the positive note, people drive “aloha style”. Unlike the drivers in Florida, everyone lets everyone in and there is no road rage. There weren’t horns honking or people screaming at each other. It was a strange, quiet hum and politeness that held a different vibe than what us mainlanders are used to.

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5. We’d been house hunting for several months prior to our arrival. This is not an exaggeration – but out of about 50 phone calls inquiring about renting, we had about five calls returned. It was quite frustrating to wait around and not hear a thing, especially when we really liked a place.

For the next two days, we drove around Ewa Beach and Kapolei looking for places to rent. Everything looked the same to me and felt crowded. Anything that wasn’t a complete dump was $2000 a month minimum and relatively small. Most places had limited parking for renters and guests, and very few places were pet friendly. This posed a huge problem for us, because there was no way in hell we were going to get rid of our furry family members.

By this time, I knew my immune system was taking a tumble. I was tired of driving in circles and looking at places I wouldn’t want to live. The spicy green curry I had for lunch wasn’t settling nicely, so our renting hunt was over for the next few days. It turned out I had a stomach flu that was comparable to food poisoning, but the sensitive stomach effects lasted for a few weeks. I later determined that so far, I wasn’t “stomaching” this place. Yet.

Moving to Hawaii – a dream come true

I guess you could say that the last year of my life has been one huge transition – and it hasn’t ended yet. Last year my husband decided that he wanted to retire this year – in Hawaii. When he asked what I thought about it, I said, “In your dreams.”

But he was serious. He’d lived in Hawaii as a child, and it was his dream to retire there. It sounded like a dream to me, too, because it was a place I’d always wanted to visit.

Me being the sensible one, I asked my husband how could we possibly make this happen? We’d have to sell our home in Florida during such a bad market and come out with money to move – not just to another state – but to the other side of the world! He said we could put the house on the market and see what happens. We put our good thoughts into everything and little by little, things slowly fell into place. We sold the house, vehicles, and had two garage sales. Nine months later, our plan was in motion.

Getting to Hawaii wasn’t quite as easy as that, however. We had pets, and each had to be microchipped and tested for the rabies FAVN virus, which took 120 days prior to arriving on the island without them having to be quarantined. Their records had to be impeccable, so finding a veterinarian that knew what she was doing was a big plus. Airfare isn’t cheap for pets, and neither are the airline-approved crates. There are many other factors involved in shipping your pets to Hawaii, but I will go into that on another day.

We kept one car that had to be shipped, so we were left without transportation for a period of time. We needed to pack everything we would need for at least a month, because our household goods wouldn’t arrive for up to 8 weeks.

Luckily for us, we already knew people on the island. Our friends had a spare bedroom and allowed us to stay with them as long as we needed until we found our own place. This was extremely helpful, as hotels in Hawaii are not for the budget-minded or pet lovers.

Everything was set to go. Our dreams were coming true.

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Landing in Honolulu at sunset