I like to think of myself as an experienced traveler. I haven't traveled nearly as much as a lot of people have, like, for example my grandmother who has been literally everywhere, but I have put in a lot of flight time in my 25 years. Especially in the last 5. Things have calmed down quite a bit, but while in my last three years of college I was flying back and forth between Chile, the US, Europe, Arizona, and the East Coast too many times to count. I've also done a lot of "budget" travel -- that means tons of connections with odd layover times. I can't remember the last time I actually flew on a direct flight.
But this Thursday, I'm embarking on a whole new adventure. I've traveled alone, I've traveled with my spouse. I've even traveled with his daughter. But now, I'm going to be traveling with Simon.
Simon is my seven month old Beagle-Chihuahua (aka cheagle) mix. And thank god, he's just small enough to still ride in the cabin. (I hope.)
I hadn't planned on returning to Pennsylvania for the holidays since we're saving our pennies for Oscar's business school and we're planning on going out to Durham, NC in March (the place where we are moving in July) for the Duke MBA program Welcome Weekend and to check out where we'd like to live. But my fabulous aunts surprised us with tickets, and even said that they'd pay for Simon to fly, as well. It's still a surprise for my parents so don't tell... I was elated since I miss my family a lot and haven't seen them since last Christmas.
But then I was slightly panicking because I hadn't even considered all that goes into flying with a pet.
When I called to make the reservations for him on our flight, I spoke to this rude woman named Rosario from continental. I wanted to ask if perhaps she was Chilean because her attitude took me back, man. Although it wasn't written anywhere on the website, she insisted that dogs over 10 lbs. couldn't fly in the cabin. When I pressed and said that I hadn't seen that rule anywhere and that my dog only weighs 15 lbs. she then said that I can try but he has to be shipped if he doesn't fit under the seat.
A huge contrast was Delta, the only airline with which I have flights on my way there. They were great and explained that as long as my dog fits under the seats there is no problem with him flying in-cabin.
A lot of people are scared about flying their pets, and after some research I've learned that almost all the injuries or deaths that occur are usually in cargo. I haven't come across any problems in-cabin. And I know that in-cabin pets are touchy, so I went to Simon's vet to talk about possible ways to keep him calm and quiet on the flight. He had no problem giving Simon sedatives as long as he wasn't riding in cargo, and I'm hoping that Continental won't give me problems with his size.
I also bought and returned 3 different carriers. There are so many different kinds, but after trying to maximize the amount of space that Simon would have and still find something compliant with the sizes permitted in cabin, I decided to go with a SturdiBag Pet Carrier. Assembling it was much like putting up a tent, and I was really pleased when Simon just crawled in and laid down to take a nap. He really likes small spaces and there's tons of room on his sides for him to curl up in any which way.
Although my dog weighs roughly 15 lbs., he's a tall little guy. His body is only 16 inches, but his legs are 11! This was a big problem since dogs need to be able to stand up and turn around in their carriers. This one ended up being the best because it's 12 inches high, but then squishes to fit underneath the seat. I also love that there's an opening for him to poke his head out of.
That being said, my dog is a little escape artist. He's opened his Precision pet wire kennel before and gotten loose in the house, and it took him 5 minutes of a practice run in the car to figure out how to unzip the bag (despite there even being zipper locks) and get out. After seeing him in action I was 100% sure that we'd need the sedatives. What cracks me up, though is that as long as the bag is open he loves to hang out in it, it's just the closing that he does not like (much like his kennel).
This is a picture of Simon in one of the carriers that didn't make the cut. It wasn't strong enough, I felt that he was about to bust out of it. Thank goodness Petsmart took it back, because a lot of places won't due to flea issues.
As you can see, he has abnormally long arms.
So, I'll let you all know how to goes. I think I'll be taking photos. I hope it goes well because being able to fly with him in cabin is so helpful.
If you're interested in information about traveling with pets, check out DogJaunt. They have all the information you could ever need!
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