The 5 Obstacles of Pet Travel by Plane
I love my dogs, that’s why travel is a problem. See, my mom is a flight attendant, so, until recently, I was an “expert traveler”. I had a rhythm and method to undressing and unpacking before security, scooting through the metal detector with a smile to the guard, and breezing down concourse upon concourse with a light carry-on and no strings attached attitude.
Now, I have traded this ‘sports car’ lifestyle for the mini-van; most of my travels are now accompanied by my dog, Romeo, and sometimes two dogs, Romeo and Bolt. There is no foolproof method for getting anywhere easily with a live animal hung from my side, but I’ve managed to streamline a few things so the experience is better. Still, there are some insurmountable obstacles that stand in my way, which, no matter what I try, I have yet to find a perfect answer. Here are five impossible tasks confronting anyone taking a pet on a plane.
1) Going to the Bathroom– There is no great way to do this. The absolute best possible outcome is a stall with a hook on the door, and even then I am hanging a live animal from a clothing hook, itlooks like some sort of horrible grandfather clock.
The worst outcome is a toss up:
A) Holding your dog under your arm watching him watch you pee, (which I believe must lead him to think “shoes on the other foot now buddy“)
B) Slinging the dog bag over your shoulder at a urinal, which really is dealers choice for whoever decides to use the adjacent urinal. Is my dog going to try and bite you or lick you? Be forewarned, licking hurts less, but is waaaay more weird.
2) Dog Lovers– Other people are a problem, especially dog lovers, because they want to pet my dog. Horrible idea. At the gate house my dog is uncomfortable, confused, and drugged up…don’t pet my dog (just as I would never try to pet a detoxing junkie or zombie). Worse though is when a dog-friendly person politely asks to pet my dog and my response, “no”, is greeted with look like I just broke the horn off a narwhal. I understand people want to pet dogs, that’s why I bring my own. On the flip side, I have been extremely lucky in that I have never been sat beside a person who hates dogs, and while a dog lover might be treturous at the gate house, they are absolute heaven on the plane.
3) Dog Smugglers– Every time I pay a small fortune to get my dog on the plane, somebody (usually an attractive girl) saunters up and opens their jacket, purse, carry-on to reveal the makings of a puppy mill. Here’s the thing, the dog(s) got through security somehow. Have they just been exposed to X-Ray radiation? ‘Cause if they bite me and I develop puppy powers (a la Spiderman), I’m going to be upset. Also, stay away from my legal dog, I don’t want to have to worry about Romeo being taught how to make a shiv by your jailbird, smuggled chihuahua.
4) Leg Room– Here’s the truth about pet plane travel: airlines aren’t allowing pet, their testing pet owner’s pain threshold. I’m 6’1″, I’m paying for the priveledge to cramp myself up. There isn’t even room left for me to wiggle my legs in the pee dance. How far are you willing to suffer for your dog? Apparently 12 hours isn’t enough to break me, so Romeo and I will be back, Southwest Airlines.
5) Keeping the Dog in the Carrier– On a serious note, I don’t think there is a perfect way to take a dog on a plane. Unless the dog is a teacup poodle, the underside of an airline seat is a dungeon. Especially if there is a transfer involved, the dog is going to be cooped up for a very long time. I won’t let that happen to my dog. Whenever I’m in a concourse, my dog’s head is popped out the top of the carrier and I will set him on the ground to let him stretch his legs (careful to stay as far as I can get away from other people). I realize this is against the rules, but, to me, babies are way worse than dogs and if your airline is going to let them run-around and be changed in the bathroom (I can’t use ’cause of my dog)- then my dog’s feet can touch your carpet.
What about you? Do you have any advice to fellow dog-toting travelers? I’ve tried a number of things to overcome these obstacles, but they just keep coming up. What are your answers? What are your pet travel problems?