We will not move to France without Mimi and Chloe, our Siamese stepsisters. It would not be LIKE leaving members of our family behind. We WOULD be leaving members of our family behind. So we investigated.
There appear to be two phases to the process. First, how are we going to travel with the cats physically? Then, what happens when we show up in customs with two very tired, annoyed, and vocal felines?
Let me be clear. We will not fly in the cabin with the cats in the hold. More precisely, Cathey won't fly in the cabin with the cats in the hold and I, being smarter than the average bear, agree. This limits our choice of airlines. Our usual carrier is Delta/Air France. We normally fly from JFK to Barcelona, rent a car, and drive over the border to France. Delta/Air France does allow cats in the cabin - for a fee of $200 apiece. Including that fee, two one-way tickets would amount to just under $5,000. Two round trip tickets would come to $2,300. Big difference.
So I called Delta and asked the question: What happens if I buy a round-trip ticket and don't use the return? The answer, according to the agent with an accent neither American nor French, is that nothing will happen. We will receive a credit for the unused portion of the ticket and, after a year, the credit will disappear.
A thought occurred. We'll be flying into Spain but the cats will be residing in France. We could certainly drive across the border between the two countries without stopping, or even slowing down very much, but will that result in our cats being illegal residents of France? Perhaps it would be better to just fly into France and be done with it.
The question of price became an issue as did the fact that there are no direct flights to any city as close to our destination as Barcelona. To fly to Paris, change planes, and fly on to Montpellier would be one solution. But instead of costing us $2,300, that flight would cost closer to $3,300.
What other options were there to consider? After much internet investigation and phone calls to several different airlines, we have come up with a solution. Turkish Air. We can fly from JFK through Istanbul to Marseille, with the cats in the cabin, for a total of $1,297. One-way tickets. And our tickets would be flexible. No charge for date or flight changes. Literally cheap at twice the price.
The layover in Istanbul will add considerable time to the trip but will also give us time to figure out a way to allow the cats to release their bladders and stretch their legs.
So, unless we come up with Plan C, we'll work on the assumption that we're headed for Marseille by way of Istanbul.