Tips from an experienced dog traveler about flying with a small dog and having him inside the airplane cabin with you. What to do the day before the flight? How to prepare the dog for the flight? What do you have to do on the day of the flight, at the airport? How to pass the security control?
Be prepared, know all the steps you'll have to do at the airport, so you don't walk around the insecure, nervous and scared you'll lose your flight.
The day before the flight
Play a lot with your dog, make him walk, swim, jump,… make him tired.
Also, stop feeding him, you want to be sure he poops everything out so he doesn't need to poop during the flight. Stinking babies during the flight are supposed to be accepted, but stinking dogs…. everyone would bite your head off. Also, our miss Boston Terrier likes to fart, so… we're fasting the day before!
Gucci never eats early in the morning, so I don’t have to worry about that. Like mummy, like son, we like to sleep till the last minute, waking up earlier just to have breakfast is not worth it.
However, when traveling for the first time with A., we almost had an emergency… A. informed me happily that, while I was in the bathroom, he made Gucci eat the whole can of dog food. He bought it especially for the ocasion, because he knew Gucci wouldn't eat in the morning and he didn't want him to be hungry for hours…
We were lucky, nothing happened during the flight, but he did poop 20 cm from the exit on the Naples airport.
Your dog can still drink water till a few hours before the flight, but be sure he enters the plane, empty. “Both ways” empty. In that case, you don't even have to worry about the anti-vomiting tablets… There won't be anything inside for him to vomit, pee or poop.
After the landing, even while waiting for your suitcases, you can already give your dog whatever you want. You'll be surprised when you find out he doesn't even want anything, we are the ones obsessed with eating and drinking, a dog can live perfectly without those things for a few hours.
Gucci on board of Air Italia.
The Italians are great, they never mind if you put your dog on the seat and even open the bag. The Spanish stewardess, on the contrary, will bite your head off like furious Rottweilers.
On the day of the flight
All the steps you have to do once you arrive to the airport:
First you have to go to the check-in desk, to check-in your luggage.
They weight your dog there, with the bag!
(Gucci has 5 kg which is fine, but Whisky has 7,5 kilos… with a bag, it's 8! 8 kg is a maximum weight allowed for a dog to fly in the cabin, so we put all the passports, mobiles and stuff we carry on in Gucci's bag, because the lady's bum is already almost too heavy.)
After the check-in and the weighting, you go to your company's office and there is where you finally pay for the dog's ticket.
The price depends on the company and in Europe it's between 30 and 50 euros per flight. Often, it's 30 national and 40 international flight.
For example, if we fly from Valencia to Barcelona it's 30 euros and from Barcelona to Milan it's 40 euros. So Gucci costs me 70 euroswhile my own ticket costs maybe 25 euros.
Personally, I consider that price is all right, BUT: if a dog pays two times a human's ticket, he should be given his own seat! To be closed inside of his bag, OK, but on his own seat or under it, not under MY seat, considering he already paid more than you and me together. Anyhow…
The price you're paying is for one way only (so Gucci actually pays for five to eight people and still has to be under my legs) and usually they won't let you pay for the return flight also. You may try and ask, their policies change every 5 minutes.
Once, we were flying back from Naples (their airport is a total chaos), the company's office was inexisting and I was almost screaming “To whom should I pay, please?! Where? How?!” They were sending us from one office to another and in the end, we didn't pay. But that can only happen in Naples.
The most expensive flight ever for the dogs was the one on the Air Azores. It was a direct flight and they charged us 15 euros per kilo, in each direction. So Gucci paid 75 euros per flight and Whisky 120… but Azores was worth every cent.
Now that you paid for the dog, you go back to the check-in desk, this time you don't have to wait anymore, you just go straight to the lady who attended you before, you show her you the receipt, she gives you the dog's ticket and that's it.
It's not complicated at all when you know what you're doing. Then you can also jump a few steps ahead, which drives the airport stuff crazy, but that's their problem, not yours.
Here's our well trained choreography, because we love to do two things at the same time, so we don't have empty gaps:
we get out of the car, find the first baggage cart, we put all the suitcases on it, a bag with one dog and I carry the another one on my sholder because usually there's not enough space for both dogs' bags on the cart.
I go alone with the dogs and the cart inside of the airport building, Isearch for our check-in desk and take my place in the mega line with minimum 30 people in front of me.
A. goes to park the car. When he finishes, he calls me, so I can quickly explain to him which way to go once he's in the airport building, to find us quicker.
He finds ud, the dogs get incredibly happy to see him again and he has to kiss them and say “hi" like he were away for days.
Then it's my turn to kiss the dogs and go away with both ours and our dogs’ passports and the money to search for the company's office, while A. and the dogs wait in the line.
The lady in the office gets very nervous because we still haven't checked-in and I want to pay in advance… 15 minutes in advance, but it's an advance and no one does it so they get confused because I go ahead of the protocole. Also, if the dogs’ bums got heavier in the last 48 hours, then they won't be able to go into the cabin and if I've paid already for them to go… When she finally gets that's my problem, not hers, she lets me pay.
I go back to A. who's now third in line, I have to kiss the dogs who already started to panic because they didn't see me.
From now on, we don't separate anymore. Which means, our vacation already started, right there in the line.
We check-in, the lady wants to send us to pay and is shocked that we already did it.
Goodbye, enjoy your flight.
When I travel alone, I do the same thing but without skipping steps because there's no one I can leave in the line for me. So it's the same thing but I have to be at the airport earlier.
Passing the security control
You take one of the plastic boxes you find before you enter the scanner, you put inside the sunglasses, the watch, the belt, the keys, the shoes (in the meantime I learned how to travel almost naked and barefoot so I don't have to do a striptease in the security control anymore).
Everything I have inside of Gucci's bag, stays there. Everything, but Gucci, he passes the control in my arms, not with the hand luggage!
The customs officers and the police cuddle the dogs, except the ones who look at them frowning (dog haters) and to whom you look frowning back (hate the dog haters).
Whisky at that point has minimum 3 officers around her telling A. they have the same one, but bigger (French Bulldog), ask if she doesn't eat enough because she's so small, because she should be bigger (Frenchy again), uh, ah, “Boston Terrier”, oh, never heard of them…
We are in!
We sit down to relax and cuddle (the dogs, not each other) till the last passager enters the plane, then we stand up and walk smoothly showing our tickets like rock stars. It's hilarious how people STAND in line for 30 minutes, to enter the plane while they hold their tickets with their seat number in their hands. It's not a metro! No one will take your seat for God's sake!
During the flight
You will never be alowed to sit on the emergency exit seats, the ones with more space.
Even if they made a mistake on the check-in desk and gave you the emergency seats and you spot your seat number from far away like an eagle, get excited and strike your boyfriend with your elbowe while you hiss with the corner of your mouth:
“The emergency seats! We got the emergency seats! Yay! She forgot we were with dogs!” ,… don't worry, it won't happen.
The stewardess will quickly find a new happy couple who wants to have room for their feet and put you and your dog bag in their seats. But at least, she'll put you often together, without carrying about the “Two pets can'not sit next to each other”.
Dogs cause much less trouble in the cabin then many people, especially children. People, even the ones who were sitting next to you, notice the dog when you're already leaving the plane and you open the zipper for the puppy to get his little head out.
“Ohhhh, you had a dog inside….I could never tell…”
“I know, dogs are educated beings, not like some humans.”
We never give Gucci or Whisky any tablets for calming down. They are with us, they love their bags, they are already calmed down.
During the taking off and landing, we open the bag zipper a little bit and tuck our hand inside to cuddle the doggies and tell them everything is all right. It's just because of the noise the plane makes at that moment. In the air, they sleep like babies.