I once performed a magic trick with a dalmatian, a large dog kennel and the aft cargo compartment of a Jetstream aircraft. The door to the cargo compartment measured 26.5″ X 35″. The large dog kennel measured 36″ X 24″ X 26″. The dalmatian was, well, a great, big dog. You can see my problem here. The dog’s owner had checked the him at the ticket counter with the anticipation of the animal travelling with him to Nashville. With some creative problem solving, my coworker, Stacy, and I got the kennel into the aircraft for an on-time departure, and, since I didn’t hear about a dog being permanently stuck in an Eagle aircraft, the Nashville ramp agents must have been just as creative in getting him out of the aircraft.
Because pets checked as baggage or shipped as freight are not always in temperature controlled environments, scheduled airlines have times of the year in which they enact a “pet embargo.” During those times, the temperatures are too extreme for pets to travel safely. If your pet can fit underneath the seat and ride in the cabin without creating a scene, then, for a fee, your fuzzy child can ride right along with you. If, however, your pet is too big or too disruptive, they will have to go in the cargo hold. Every year, thousands of pets are checked and handled without incident. However, as a pet owner myself, I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever been comfortable with handing my dogs over to baggage handling. Baggage handlers are great and they take good care of the animals, but, I have to admit, I’m a nervous pet mom. Absurd? Maybe. But, it is what it is. Flying with pets in a chartered aircraft is just so much easier.
We have a few canine frequent flyers who sit right in the cabin with their owners. Mr. Bojangles snacks on special filet mignon flavored pup treats. But DW seems to suffer a little bit of motion sickness and prefers not to eat on board at all. They are veteran flyers who don’t require kennels. We don’t have many feline passengers; but, I once worked with an aircraft owner who had the inside of his aircraft fitted with fixed kennels for his cats, who travelled everywhere with him. Having flown with both cats and dogs, I have to agree with the reasoning there. Cats tend to be far more sensitive and, let’s face it, freaked out by the noise and motion of the aircraft.
According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2009, we Americans spent about $45.4 billion on our pets. Clearly, we love our animals and they bond with us, often looking to us for pack leader protection. When we allow them to go through the baggage system, they may arrive safely but seriously discombobulated at the unprecedented environments they have experienced. Chartering allows you to arrive at your destination alert, rested and less traumatized than using mass air transit and the same holds true for your pets. Instead of baggage carts and strangers, they board on their own and stay right next to you, their person, reducing their level of stress and, by extension, yours.