Friday, March 12, 2010

Airline Travel With A Pet

(Rocco does love to fly ;))

Traveling these days is nightmare enough. Try it with your dog! On second thought, don't. It can literally cost you as much as an additional ticket to bring your pet along. Here's the real kick in the pants; your pet has to ride in an "airline approved carrier" which means it does not have an opening that can't be zipped shut for the entire time your pet is in the airport and on the plane. THE ENTIRE TIME and must fit under your seat!!!! Seriously?!? You already have to pay from $25 - $100 for any of your checked bags and now your pet who requires a ticket of his own counts as a carry-on!???! Yep, he counts as a carry-on! That means no personal item for you. Your personal item doesn't even take up any space in the overhead compartments! There is something so fundamentally wrong with paying more for my dog than I spent on my own passage.

There are websites about various airlines' policies and requirements that can be helpful. This one for instance;, but it does not disclose the airline fees. Websites are not always reliable or up to date. One website claims that Southwest Airlines does not allow pets in the passenger cabin, but they actually do now, starting at $75 each way. The fees change and usually in one direction and are based on the size of the animal and whether or not they are riding in the cabin or are being checked as baggage. (They do put them in the pressurized and climate controlled area of the cargo.) American Airlines $100, United Airlines is between $125 - $500, and Delta Airlines is from $75 - $965. All of these prices are EACH WAY!!!

Before you think of how fun it would be to have Fido along for the trip to the snow or to run with you on the beach, read up, call, or look up your airline and plan on leaving one or two of your kids at home because these doggie ticket prices will break you. You will also need the animal's updated travel certificate (a certificate of health from your vet), not free either. Don't let what happened to me one CHRISTMAS DAY a couple of years ago happen to you! I showed up at the airport, bag, baggage dog, wallet in hand, and mentally prepared to take out the second mortgage on my home and pay for Rocco's plane ticket when I was told that this particular airline didn't allow animals in the cabin. I am not a huge fan of checking animals in the cargo hold in the first place, but it is a really bad idea for small dogs and bullies (boxer,american/english/french bulldogs, boston terriers etc) to ride under the plane. I didn't think Rocco's little Hermes purse-like carrier was going to suffice as a crate suitable for the cargo hold anyway. Some airlines will let you purchase an airline-approved carrier for around $75, but not all airlines and not the ones who do not allow pets in the cabin, in most cases. Thank God I got an actual human being at the ticket counter who took pity on my last-possible-minute unpreparedness and told me that "I have forgotten my doctor's letter stating that Rocco is my emotional companion animal" (nodding his head up and down as if to say, shut up and follow along). Nice! .....AND he rides for free!! As if I'm NOT an emotional mess after 10 minutes at LAX anyway? So call your doc and roll the dice or call your broker, sell some stocks and buy your pooch a ticket!

Happy travels, whether you are petless or with dog ;)

~ Kate

P.S. I do have friends that successfully sneak their pets on and have repeatedly gotten away with it, but I do not recommend this approach. You can be thrown off of the flight, fined and/or arrested. Not really worth it.

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