Tags: dogs, shipping, cargo, airline, puppies, plane, air, travel
Dogs and Air Travel
Comment 1: Because I recently asked all of you for advice on shipping a puppy, and because the question is still being discussed on some of the lists, I thought I'd share my recent experience.
Yesterday I shipped a 7 month old puppy to her grandmother in California. She needed to fly direct between Chicago, IL and Sacramento, CA as I wasn't taking chances with layovers and plane changes. If I had been flying with her, and had been able to watch the transfer during a plane change that would have made a large difference, but with her going alone it had to be direct or I wasn't going to ship her.
First I called Delta as I've used their Delta Dash service in the past. Their new pet service offered no direct flights, with the offer being that she could go from Chicago to Cincinnati, Cincinnati to Houston, and finally Houston to Sacramento, with plane changes at all stops. They had some fancy Pet Service name for it but if wasn't what I'd want for my puppy, and certainly not one that seemed like they were offering special service for animals.
I then called American who also offered no direct flights even though they claimed to be catering to the animals. Theirs was a bit better with only one stop and one plane change, that being in either Houston or Atlanta.
As Continental had been recommended by quite a few I called them next. The "gentleman" (and I use that term very loosely) I spoke with was extremely rude, he told me that the flight would leave at 2 in the afternoon and that plane changes would be necessary. When I asked if there wasn't a morning flight available, or one with no stops or plane changes, I was told that was the only flight available, and to take it or leave it.
With all three of the above airlines I did loosen my choices and ask about San Francisco as well, thinking that it was the smaller airport in Sacramento that was causing the problem, but was told the same thing with all three, there would have to be layovers and plane changes no matter where she arrived.
So I called United. United had a direct flight between Chicago and Sacramento. United had multiple direct flights, both morning and afternoon, and the woman that I spoke with was a joy to work with. When I got to the airport at 5:30 yesterday morning they had me pull my van into the warehouse so that the puppy and I didn't have to sit outside until her time of departure. At least 2 dozen people were working in that warehouse and every single one of them came over to meet the puppy, talk softly to her, and pet her to make her comfortable. They let me stay with her until the minute they loaded her on the truck to take over to the terminal, the plane left a couple minutes early, arrived a couple of minutes early, and could be tracked all the way across the country. She was the last thing on the plane, the first thing off, and everyone on her arrival end was just as warm and friendly as her departure end had been.
I don't ship dogs often but will remember to call United any time I need to ship one from now on. I was extremely pleased with the service we got and would recommend it highly. If you call for information, or to book a flight, do so in the evening when Velma is on duty. I must have driven that poor lady crazy as I called no less than 3 times to check availability of flights before we settled on the one that we used. She was professional but very patient, knowledgable, and friendly. By the time I finally made the reservation we were practically old friends.
Others may tell you stories that don't coincide with my experience but I was extremely pleased with the service that we got, and would recommend it if asked.
Shipping Puppies on United
I have always had good and thoughtful service with United. Not that I ship often, but they seemed to have the connections out of Seattle through the years. Just last weekend, I flew to Denver and brought home a pup Excess baggage with United. Home is Sacramento. The service was nothing but wonderful. They even brought a card that had been attached to the crate, to let me know the puppy had been loaded and was on board.
And furthermore, when I called to book my flight two days before travel. I found I could buy a discount e-ticket, call back to schedule the puppy and crate by phone and it was under $200 (+excess baggage fee) I did call to check if that was possible and they checked the aircraft on my preferred flight before I purchased the ticket. Good service and discount fares too. It was all very easy
I have had great experiences with Continental but only on a direct flight and their partner Northwest. But not many over the years...United has been a mainstay with no bad experiences for me. (knock on wood)
Glad the puppy is on the way. Direct flights are the only way to go. It is the best precaution you can take. Can't wait to see her.
Check Airline Flight Schedules Before Shipping a Dog
Comment 3: A suggestion for anyone else planning to ship a dog - check the airline flight schedules FIRST. Go to any of the on-line travel sites and check for service between the two cities. Remember to select the option for "price doesn't matter" to be able to see all flights (and don't pass out when you see some of the fares). You can see which airlines have nonstops (or the best connections, if that's the only option), the times they operate, and even the type of aircraft - important if you need a widebody for an adult dogs crate. Once you find the best flights, then you can decide if you trust that carrier's handling of animals. Generally the best service is going to be on a carrier that has a hub at either the origin or destination airport. For the case in question, it's no surprise it was United - Chicago is their primary hub. The employees at the hub airports also have more experience with just about everything, including handling animals. Personally, I'll always take a nonstop over a connection on any of the major carriers. There's just that much less to go wrong. Also, it's always better to drive a bit if necessary to get to an airport with better service on either end of the trip. I worked for an airline for 12 years - flying standby - so I am intimately familiar with finding the best travel routings. HTH!
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