I've been doing a lot of research about flying with animals. When we finally get the family headed to California, we decided that making our 12, 13 and 15 year old cats drive for three days in a crate with a kid and a dog really isn't going to suit them. Instead, we're looking into flying with them in the cabin as carry-ons.
American Airlines charges $150 per pet to do this, and they allow up to seven animals in the cabin. Each animal has to be with a ticketed passenger. (MacTroll is asking his favorite American employee, Amanda, at Willard if X-man counts or if the passenger has to be of a certain age.) Animals have to stay in their carriers the entire flight and cats must be under 17 lbs.
The trick is that you don't want any kind of connection when you travel with cats. You want to go straight to your destination. So, we'd drive them up to chicago in a larger crate (Lily's dog one), and we'd go through security there and then get on the plane.
The next trick is that you have to take your animal out of the crate at Security, if you're carrying on. This is crazy, but in order to do that, we're going to put the cats in harnesses on leashes. Just in case they freak out among a lot of people in O'Hare and try to scamper, we've got an extra hold on them.
Then, once they get through security they can go back in the carriers for the five-hour flight to California. On the other end, we'll be checking them into a well-to-do pet boarding place until we've got our house purchased. Then we'll set up some litter boxes, send MacTroll back to get a traveler friend of his choice and our car, dog (who will be at Doggies on the Farm for a little while) and goldfish (who will need to stay with a friend for a bit) and drive them out for three days while X-man and I put the house together on the other end.
Organizationally, there are a lot of details. But I love this kind of thing. I like coming up with plans and contingencies. I love big picture ideas with layering of details. I am not intimidated. I'm a planner.