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Tuuli

Getting ready to fly, what should I know?

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Quite exciting. Tomorrow night (rather monday morning @ 130am) I get to go for my first flight. Mom and dad are taking me to visit the grandparents in Seattle from Anchorage, about a 3.5 hour flight. They said I have to fly in baggage while they get to sit in the cabin ;( What should I know? I am a 21wk old well behaved girl. They are pretty nervous for me.

 

I have a good crate. I have been told that they will not feed or water me for almost 6 hours before the flight. They said to plan on some "pre-flight" exercise to tire me out. I have my health papers and rabies info ready to go. No drugs is the plan.

 

Ideas on bedding? Insurance? (not that I could EVER be replaced!). A little water dispenser to compensate for the dry, pressurized air?

 

Thanks in advance. Keep your paws crossed for me!

 

Thanks,

 

Tuuli

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I've never flown with a dog that young, but my adult BC flies regularly (1-2x monthly) on Alaska Airlines. You couldn't ask for a better airline for travel with a dog.

 

Glad to hear that no drugs are planned. That's what the AVMA recommends. Hopefully your dog is crate-trained already too -- that cuts down on the stress for the dog. But my feeling is that flying is not particularly stressful for a well-adjusted dog. It's just a chance to snooze in peace with a nice background of calming white noise.

 

Here are some of my rules of thumb:

 

ALWAYS make SURE the dog is on the same plane you are on, BEFORE they close the door. Alaska will give you a tag that shows the crate is loaded, but they load dogs last so they often don't get around to giving you the tag until the door is already closed, when you couldn't do much about it if the dog wasn't there. When I board, I ask both the ground crew (the person who checks your boarding pass) and the flight attendants if they could please make sure I get the tag before they close the door. Hopefully one of them will take the request seriously. If they don't, try to be polite but firm, that you NEED to see that tag before they close the door. I try to sit in an aisle seat near the front of the plane so I can maintain contact with the flight attendants during this busy time for them.

 

Dogs always fly in the forward cargo hold, which is on the right side of the plane, so if you get a window seat on the right side near the front (i.e. ahead of the wing) you can often see the dog loaded yourself, but you have to be in your seat early to ensure that. An alternate strategy is to be the last person to board, so you can watch the cargo loading from the departure lounge.

 

If you paint your crate in some distinctive way (I used to have one with big red dog bones painted all over it), it makes it easier to confirm that it is indeed YOUR dog that's on board. Sometimes another passenger will tell you they saw a dog being loaded, and sometimes the baggage handlers get too busy to bring the actual tag up, but if the crate is unmistakable, it's easier to get confirmation from whoever saw the crate go on board.

 

Most of these strategies add greatly to the stress of travel for the dog's person, alas. Dogs (on Alaska Airlines) are almost always on the plane they are supposed to be on, so it's not like you need to worry much. But the few stories I personally know of where travel with dogs went badly all involve dogs getting separated from their people, so for me it's worth the extra stress during boarding. Once I know the dog's on board, I can relax just like the other passengers.

 

Since dogs are not loaded until last, there is little reason to turn your dog in early. On the other hand, there's paperwork to fill out and an extra step with TSA, so you don't want to get to the airport at the last minute. What I like to do is get to the airport a bit early (which for me would be one hour before departure, but you may prefer a bigger margin) and take care of all the paperwork. Then you take the kennel to the TSAs and ask them (or the agent, if they have to call the TSAs -- I can't remember which it is at ANC) what's the latest time they can take the dog. You can leave your kennel at the entrance to the TSA bag check and go entertain your dog until then. Usually they like to have the dog 30-45 minutes before departure.

 

The TSAs should allow you to load the dog in the kennel yourself once they've checked it out, and I always give the door a good yank once it's closed to make sure it's securely latched. Once I had a TSA go ballistic when I did that ("you touched the crate -- now it's not secure!"), but after a brief scuffle, he went for his supervisor and came back and apologized for going beyond his responsibilities. I collect entertaining stories about TSAs and dogs (one checked the bottom of my dog's feet...canine shoe bomber?), but on the whole they tend to be dog-friendly and easygoing as long as you are too.

 

Your dog's young enough that she may not last the flight without relieving herself in the kennel. Oh well. Just plan on washing the bedding if need be when you get to your destination. She can certainly do without food before the flight, but I'm not sure I'd deprive her of water beforehand. On longer flights in hotter weather, people sometimes freeze water in the crate water dish so it will melt slowly for the dog during the flight, but I wouldn't think that would be necessary in this case. The dog will surely be thirsty when you get to Seatac (where they are very quick at unloading dogs, by the way), so plan to give her a drink there. There's a nice new park at Seatac in the cruise ship passenger waiting area (south, or maybe east, end of the terminal -- turn right when you walk out) that you could use for a quick stop if needed.

 

Have a good trip. I'm sure it will all go well.

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Thank you for the response. Mom and dad feel much better now. Glad to hear we are flying Alaska Airlines! Good thing dad is obsessive compulsive, so I am sure he will be looking for me.

 

Thanks again for your response.

 

Tuuli.

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Alaska Airlines has a good policy on pets, in regards to their "Relax I'm on board too" sticker. I think they're the only airline that does this, or at least American Airlines doesn't.

 

The other thing is bring along some wet wipes, paper towels for when you get to Seatac in case the pup messed in the kennel and needs some cleaning up.

 

Also, put an article of clothing that has your scent on it in the kennel and that may help too.

 

Hey, Alaska, I didn't know about that little park. I thought I had Seatac mapped out...good to know.

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