Have Dogs, Will Fly
If you were to ask me what question I get asked most often when I travel with my dogs…
My answer would be that the most common question I get asked is;
“Did they fly on the airplane too?!?”
This question always gives me pause. I mean, it seems obvious to me the dogs would fly on the airplane. Air travel is, clearly, the most logical way to cover great distances in a short time.
But, you know, I get it. When a person doesn’t have dogs or doesn’t travel a lot with dogs, it can seem like a bit of an enigma when you run into a woman in your Small Town in the Lower 48 with her Poodles from Alaska.
“How does she get here?”
“How do her POODLES get here?”
The answer is exactly as simple as it should be:
And here is how we do it;
My airline of choice…
whether I’m flying with dogs or without, Alaska Airlines has always been my airline of choice.
Alaska Air is the home team, and I’m one to root for the home team. But that’s not the only reason I fly AK Air. Alaska Air has always been good to me. Their customer service is clear, kind and concise. The agents and attendants are interested in what I have to say (or they fake it really well… either way, I’m good) and I’ve always been made to feel like my dogs’ well being is valued.
Step one; the veterinarian check-up
The first trip we make before any air travel is to the veterinarian’s office for a health certificate. This health certificate is required by the airline, when flying a pet in the pressurized baggage compartment. The vet visit is pretty quick as the doctor does a check of heart, lungs, and general health of the dog. The vet also signs off that all required vaccines are up to date and makes sure you have a rabies certificate to show the airline, along with your health certificate.
Step two; prepare the crates
Pali and Klu both fly in 400 size crates. These crates are considered “large” crates.
When I first got involved in showing dogs, I had no idea what someone meant when they said; 400 crate. I didn’t know what the dimensions were for a 400 size crate.
And when someone said; “you know… a large crate.”
That honestly didn’t help me at all.
So, I did some research and discovered what the sizes meant and why we use them.
Turns out, these numbers used for crate sizes are IATA series sizes. IATA stands for International Air Transport Association. The number series is a standardized way for airlines to identify crate sizes. The series number remains the same, regardless of the crate design or brand.</p>
The IATA size series are as follow; 200 (small/medium), 300 (intermediate), 400 (large), 500 (extra large), and 700 (giant)
The exterior dimensions of a 400 are: 35.5 x 25 x 28 in. This is the perfect size for my girl Poodles. I load the gals in my crate brand of choice; Impact Crate. These crates are sturdy! They make excellent travel crates. I’m able to place a perfectly fitted pad in the crate, along with a blanket that smells like home and two dishes, attached to the door of the crate.
Plus, TSA loves these crates.
Seriously. I get complimented by the TSA just about every time I fly with the Impact Crate.
Step three; Airport loading time
Alaska Air requires arrival for pet travel to be at least one hour before departure but no earlier than two hours before departure.
My personal preference is to arrive exactly two hours before departure.
On my flight to Seattle for the January adventure trip, it was nice to arrive early and have a relaxed check-in. Since this was Klu’s first big airplane trip, I didn’t want her to sense any stress. Rushing around the airport, filling out paperwork and not having ample time to acclimate Kluane to air travel was not an ideal way to create a healthy love of travel.
True to Kluane’s nature, checking in at the airport was not a big deal at all. She flirted with the airline attendants and charmed the TSA. I think the fact Pali was traveling in her own crate, right next to Klu, helped ease any apprehensions.
Once the dogs are checked in and loaded on the plane, Alaska Airlines hands me a little ticket with my dogs’ names. This ticket comes directly off the paperwork that is attached to the crate. A concrete assurance that my dogs are on my flight. The best part of this loading process through Alaska Airlines is that the airplane will not take off until all owners on board have their dogs’ tickets.
Step four; being grateful for taking the time to crate train the dogs
The flight from Anchorage to Seattle is a bit more than 3 hours. Not too long at all! The Galavanting Poodles are used to traveling in crates for car travel. They also rest in their crates. 3 hours in their crate feels safe and secure to my Poodles.
Let’s give a shout out for crate training!
Step five; picking up the Poodles at baggage
Once we land in Seattle, I head straight down to baggage claim and wait at oversize baggage to see my girls, in their 400 size crates, wheeled out to me.
Airports will have an area where you can potty your dog as soon as you retrieve them from baggage.
Some airports have better dog walk areas than others. Case in point, I’m a big fan of the dog area at the Palm Springs airport.
The Seattle airport’s dog potty area leaves a lot to be desired. It’s under an overpass, just a small slice of gravel and dirt with a stand holding potty bags. But it gets the job done.
Missy Tip: I take potty bags and tie them to ALL of my walking leads. I also tie potty bags to my ringside tote. I’m never without a potty bag.
It can take a bit of juggling to get crates and luggage out of the airport and in to the rental car. But since both Pali and Klu are crate trained, I get a small advantage by having them each rest comfortably in their crate.
Impact Crates offer removable wheels as an add-on feature. I strongly recommend investing in the Impact Crate wheels. They are a true life saver!!
All in all, flying with dogs isn’t too tough of a gig. A little extra planning and a well trained dog makes for smooth sailing when on a great adventure.
As it turns out, flying Kluane ends up being the easiest part of our trip!
Stay tuned for the next installment of Kluane’s Big Adventure… when my little Poodle girl enters the ring with the “big kids!”