by Michele and Greta
I would love to give testimonial to how "untraumatized" Greta was from her first flying experience. I would say that after having taken her with us on Spring Break, I was amazed at how well she adjusted to flying, staying in motels, and just being in a different atmosphere. From now on, if we go on a trip - she goes with us.
I don't know if I mentioned this to your Helene, but I am the biggest chicken when it comes to flying. Flying with my children is nerve racking enough, but having my little baby in the kennel in cargo below us where I wouldn't know how she was fairing - nerve racking! Greta showed me what a traveler she is - just like the kids. I seem to be the only one with a flying problem!
The day we left for our trip, we had to drive down the mountain in a snow storm. This made us arrive at the airport about one hour prior to boarding. By the time the gentleman at the check-in counter got us checked in and Greta's kennel all decorated with stickers we had very little time left to get her checked over in TSA and ourselves through security. Thanks to your suggestion, I had drilled a little hole in the front of the kennel so I could attach a Tielock to the front and prevent anyone from opening the kennel just to pet her. The gentleman in TSA thought that was a very good idea. We went into TSA and had them check out Greta's kennel and then that is where we said goodbye to her. When I was checking in, I was very concerned for her comfort especially with the weather and I was told that she would be waiting in a heated room until the very last minute, and then they would take her out to the airplane.
We arrived at the gate with a minute to go and were ushered to our seat. Before I even walked down the aisle I told the head flight attendant that we were traveling with a puppy underneath and that I needed to know that they were aware of this and to also make sure she was put on the plane. On both occasions, traveling there and back, I was informed by an attendant that my dog had been placed on board.
The flight to our destination was very uneventful and it was a bit of a wait before she arrived at baggage claim. It was quite a wait for the luggage too, so it wasn't anything we worried about. The minute I saw her I knew she was fine. She was so excited to see us (as were the kids to see her!). We kept her in the kennel until we got into our rental car and drove to the hotel. This was a 20 minute drive from the airport. I took her out of the kennel, she went to the bathroom and started sniffing around her new surroundings. I can not stress enough how unaffected she was by the flight.
On our return flight, the attendants checking us in were just as helpful and loved that we were flying with our dog. TSA once again agreed that we should put on the plastic tielock and even offered to use one of their own. The ones I had used were very small and thin - enough to deter someone from opening it but would make it easier to open in the case of an emergency. When we boarded the plane, I told the attendant again that I was flying with a dog below and wanted to know when she was loaded on. Once again, before we started moving she came up to me to say that Greta had been placed on board. The weather that night was extremely bad with high winds and the flight out was no less than a roller coaster. All I could think about was Greta, but then I looked over at my kids and saw that they had fallen asleep through all the turbulence. My guess was that Greta was snoozing away too! Regardless when we finally landed, I couldn't get to baggage claim fast enough. DIA has such a great time on delivering luggage and we were just finishing grabbing all of our bags from the carousel when I saw them walking up with Greta on a cart. She was fine. I would say that the second flight was even more uneventful for her than the first one.
I never really thought about giving tranquilizers to Greta because I was more concerned about medication than the flight itself. She definitely proved me right by coming out of the kennel the same as she would in my home. I think medication would have made things so much worse - so please don't consider it. Believe me before you know it your dog will be a seasoned traveler.
I don't know that anyone else who has flown with there dog has ziplocked the kennel - but I would definitely do this for peace of mind. The airlines are fine with it and like I said before, security thought it was a great idea. I know that Greta was very happy to be part of our vacation and the process of flying was so much easier for her than it was for us. Taking our dog with us on future flights is a no-brainer.
I hope that this helps allay any fears of flying with your pet. If anyone has more questions feel free to e-mail me.
Read More About Traveling With Your Dogs
Flying with Dogs in Cargo and in Carry-on by Helene R Pedersen