I want to first acknowledge that I understand dogs and children are two very different levels of responsibility - children being exponentially higher.
That said: there is no way flying with a child is more challenging or expensive than flying with a dog. Children - being that they are just small humans - will always be accepted on planes and in airports. They can use bathrooms inside the airport. They even fly free if they are small enough (I think we call those ones babies).
Dogs, on the other hand, are not small humans. They aren’t allowed anywhere, they’re less likely to pee in an airplane bathroom than children, and they always cost money to fly (exception: service dogs).
So - in another installment of Travel Tips by Caila - here are some tips for flying with a dog on board:
Tip #19: Check with the airline ahead of time for height/weight restrictions on dog travel: it varies per airline, as do fees and when pets are allowed under the plane.
Tip #20: Have a current bill of health from your vet (within 2 weeks of travel): Really - you never know what the airline or TSA is going to ask for on any given day.
Tip #21: Check on any quarantine situation if you are traveling internationally: Your dog might be an international man of mystery in your mind, but not in the minds of most international government officials. Look it up ahead.
Tip #22: Do arm and back exercises the month leading up to the travel: Dog carriers do not come with wheels.
Tip #23: Allow for at least 30 minutes to get the dog into that damn travel case: Dogs do not like travel cases. Even if you put their favorite blanket in there. Even if it smells like you. Even if you bribe them with an entire turkey. You’ll need to get them in the case before you get into the airport, because - unless you have the Emotional Support Animal or Service Animal certification - they aren’t allowed in the airport outside of the case. About 10 minutes after you struggle to get them into the case, you take them right back out because you need to take the squirmy little sucker through the airport security metal detector with no leash. Then it’s right back in the case. Did I say 30 minutes? I meant an hour.
Tip #24: …but don’t get to the airport too early: You’ll have to master the fine balance of arriving to the gate just as you are boarding. This involves predicting every line length and dog antic. I have no advice on how to do this. Good luck!
Tip # 25: Avoid connections: When a direct flight is possible, just take it. Even if it’s more money. Airports are just about the least pet friendly space on the planet, other than - ya know - kill shelters (and even that’s a toss up). If you do connect, plan on it going like this: You are paranoid that the dog needs to pee - and, rightfully so (what, are they going to pee using the airplane bathroom on the next flight?). After exiting your first flight, you ask for the “pet relief area” (which, in most cases, is a 5 foot by 5 foot spread of grass about as far away from wherever you are as is possible in any given airport). After asking five airport officials, one will vaguely know what you are talking about, and point you in sort of the right direction. It will be about a 20 minute walk, carrying a 20 pound beast in an unstable cary bag on your shoulder. It’s on the other side of security. Your dog will be really hesitant to go, and will be terrified every time a plane flies overhead (roughly every 45 seconds). After he finally does pee, it’s time to go through security again, including getting the dog in, then out, then in again that effing carrier. Just avoid connections.
Tip #26: Save your money!: It’s about $125 each way for your living carry on, if you’re lucky enough to have a pooch the size that is allowed on board. And no: you can’t pay with miles (tried it). Don’t even get me started on the negative health risks of stashing the dog under the plane. Consider avoiding this if you are even a little bit emotionally disturbed and can get a shrink to vouch for that.
Speaking of emotionally disturbed…
Tip #27: Doggy Sedatives are our friends: Your only hope of getting through this is for your dog to sleep the entire flight. I’m no licensed vet (duh), but the sedatives worked wonders.
Tip #28: As are human sedatives: If flying didn’t give you anxiety before, flying with a canine friend will.
Tip #30: Prepare for dirty looks: The only people that get more disdainful looks boarding a plane than someone with a baby, is someone with a dog. It is assumed by your fellow travelers that your dog will bark the whole flight. They hate the dog - and you - and will not hesitate to sigh loudly, roll eyes and make comments like “Didn’t know Paris Hilton was on this flight” (um, dated much?). Resist the urge to yell “MY DOG’S TICKET WAS MORE THAN YOUR’S!” lest you be ejected from the plane, putting you right back to square one with doggy travel. The human sedatives will set in soon enough.