In a weird twist this week, United Airlines refused to board to a passenger who tried to take a peacock on board. The fact that the airline turned her down wasn’t strange; the weird part was checking a peacock on board in the first place. They’re flightless birds for a reason.
All joking aside, it does raise serious questions for dog owners that need their pet by their side on a flight. For example, is it allowed? What are the restrictions? And is there a backup plan?
Here are a few tips for flying with a dog to make sure you don’t end up grounded like the peacock and its owner:
Flying With a Dog Tip #1: Bring Official Proof
No one can take up a seat on a passenger plane without evidence the dog is an ESA. Airlines require proof that people aren’t trying to play the system, which has been happening in the past few years.
So, it’s not just wise but mandatory to bring the relevant paperwork to the airport. Included in the dog’s travel bag should be a letter from a medical professional stating the animal is for emotional purposes.
In some cases, you might need to show a short form that your therapist filled out beforehand. Take everything to make sure.
Flying With a Dog Tip #2: Remember The Add-ons
The official proof is one thing, but airlines can have extra regulations. After all, they need to make the flight as smooth as possible for everyone.
It’s also a smart move to check if they have any add-ons before turning up to the check-in desk.
The National Service Animal Registry points out that an airline could ask for an identifying patch, vest or a cage. It can also ask for an ID card, too. None of the latter is a legal requirement yet can be grounds for rejection.
Flying With a Dog Tip #3: Don’t Buckle
Buying a plane ticket without ensuring an ESA can fly is your fault and you won’t be reimbursed.
People who don’t have money to spare should take a goose at this great post to read as well as the airline guidelines. You never know when one ticket will take you from the black and into the red. However, if everything is above board, then there should be zero extra charges.
Remember that an airline isn’t allowed to charge you more for having a dog in the cabin. As long as your documents are in order, they have to make room for the animal. Stand your ground when they try to test your knowledge.
Flying With a Dog Tip #4: Research The Species
The reason the peacock was shamelessly denied a seat on the United Airlines plane was because it was a bird.
If that isn’t discrimination, what is for heaven’s sake?!
You might think dogs will be fine, but some species are viewed with suspicion. Rottweilers and Alsatians are powerful animals that could scare the other passengers and might be refused entry. Illegal dogs, like American pit bulls, will suffer the same fate.
Any species that are prohibited won’t be allowed to board and you might get a call from the authorities.
Traveling with a dog is stressful enough without all of the above. But, taking care of the fine print will ensure your ESA is on board and by your side.