Monday, March 28, 2016

Flying with your Small Dog

One of my 2016 goals is to take C on more adventures. She is so little and delicate that I sometimes shy away from bringing her out into the great big outdoors, but it's now or never since she is getting up in years. This weekend, she had a Southern Californian adventure. The last minute trip occurred for all the wrong reasons--family medical issue, but we made the most of it.

The little one flies as a carry-on under the seat in front of me.  For years, we flew on American Airlines exclusively because they allowed two dogs in one carrier, depending on size.  Since C and B weighed all of four pounds in the aggregate, it worked for us and I felt reassured that they could snuggle together during the flight. Now that B is no longer with us, we've branched out and tried United and Southwest.  As of the date of this post, both American and United charge a $125 pet fare for in-cabin pets (one way). Southwest charges $95 (one way).

C is well behaved in the cabin (and, no, she doesn't need to be sedated). Over the years, I learned that she does best when:

  • We plan ahead to make sure she's eaten a nice meal and had time to digest and potty before I pull the suitcase out of the closet.
  • I pack by stacking my items on my bed and fill the suitcase at the last minute. This is important because she gets stressed and cries as soon as I unzip the suitcase. (She calms down once she's secure in the carrier and I'm holding the carrier.)
  • I pack a small handful of bite-sized snacks for our layover.
  • I pack a potty pad in case of a flight delay. In a pinch, I can find a quiet corner and she'll use the pad. Best case scenario, I'll leave the terminal and come back through security, but you have to be careful to allot enough time and know where the airport's pet relief areas are (if any).
  • Her carrier is rigid in order to avoid collapse. Sherpa carriers, which are highlight recommended by many people, stressed her out because they easily collapsed on her, which caused her to panic. Our flights have been particularly successful since I bought a small Pet Flys carrier, which is unfortunately no longer available in the more subtle design we purchased, but this monkey design is fun and not too loud.
  • I don't sit the carrier on the ground in the terminal. This is the only time she barks in the carrier. I think she's concerned I have abandoned her.
  • I don't tell my seatmates she's with me. When people start using their baby voices to talk to her, she expects to be removed from the carrier.
  • I plan a potty stop for her as soon as we leave the airport at our final destination.

I understand all the reasons folks love big dogs, but I'm so grateful that C can travel with me without too much trouble.


Anonymous said...

this was so interesting, not something i have experience with. such a cute dog!

Anonymous said...

Your dog is adorable! I've never flown with mine because at 18lbs I think he's just barely too big for under the seat, but aren't you worried about potential allergies of people next to you by not mentioning him?

CP said...

I had no idea pets could fly in cabin! That's awesome. What a cutie!

Paragon2Pieces said...

@Anon2: Her bag has a big paw print on it and a label that reads "pet flys" so, even though I'm not encouraging my seatmates to interact with her I think it's obvious that she's there. She's a hypoallergenic breed. In her 13 years of flying, none of our seatmates have ever had a visible or audible allergic reaction. That's not to say it isn't a potential problem, but we've haven't run into it to date.

RJ said...

Wow! I never knew this happened. In New Zealand pets can only be carried with the luggage in the cargo area. I didn't know on board dog luggage was a thing!

Live and learn :-)

Metal said...

You're lucky. I once tried to take my 110 lb lab to the airport and he couldn't hide his happiness at seeing the swarm of people and couldn't control himself...I had to cancel my trip!