Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Planning to fly with your small dog?
It's not all that difficult. Many airlines accept pets, provided you give them advance notification and agree to keep your pet in a pet carrier that's small enough to fit underneath the seat.
But what some airlines won't do is advise you whether or not the flight you've booked is appropriate for someone travelling with a pet, or a Service Animal.
Bao and I flew from Tucson to Fort Lauderdale and back recently. Full fare, First Class ticket. Major airline. Expensive.
The journey involved two flights each way. When I booked the ticket (on the airline's website) I did notice that the segment from Houston to Tucson they'd nominated was being operated by what looked like an affiliated company. So I called the airline and told them that I was travelling with a Service Animal. No problem, they said. The flight is a regional jet.
A jet is a jet, right?
Bao and I found ourselves crammed into an itsy, bitsy, teensy, weensy little airplane with tiny little seats (two on one side of the aircraft, one on the other) and a center aisle that couldn't have been more than twelve inches wide.
And when I say teensy weensy, I mean it. If I weighed 300 pounds or was over six feet tall I wouldn't have even fit into the seat. And there was no way you'd get a pet carrier under the seat, unless the pet was a cricket. What if my Service Dog was a German Shepherd? I asked. Where would you have put him?
In the aisle, was the reply.
In the aisle? There were 49 other passengers on this flight. What if there was an emergency? Can you imagine 50 people trying to escape along a 12'' aisle that's got a German Shepherd parked in the middle of it? Yikes.
Talk about sardines in a tin!
I was not a happy camper, so I wrote to the airline and told them so.
My letter was answered by an Executive Specialist on behalf of the airline's CEO. Among other things, she said she respected my perception that the service I'd received was not satisfactory, and would include my "observations" in a report that would be distributed to senior management within their Reservations and Marketing Division. She also gave me 5000 bonus Frequent Flyer miles, and a voucher or a free drink or a headset next time I'm on board. So I guess it pays to complain.
The moral of the story? All jets are not created equal. If you're travelling with a pet, make sure they haven't booked you on one of these "toy airplanes" -- and be especially suspicious if the flight is being operated by a subsidiary company!
Better yet, don't fly. Drive, instead.


Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

Love it! Of course you have to drag me kicking and screaming to get on a plane thanks to a bad flight on one of those toys! I wouldn't begin to think of flying ole Bacchus anywhere!

3:50 PM


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