Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Flying with a PIT. . .

Okay, so soon I will be going on my first flight with a puppy in training, and Fullerton feels honored to be my first puppy on a plane. :D Anyway, having never flown with a puppy I, of course, have about a bazillion questions. So if any experienced fliers can help me out I would really appreciate it. I need to get my tickets in the next couple of days because the prices are already rising for the flights and dates I need. So thanks!

I am flying from Salt Lake City, UT to Sacramento, CA and then to get home I am either going to leave from Burbank, CA or Los Angeles, CA to SLC, UT.

1. What airlines have you found that allow PIT's?

2. At what point in the ticket finding process to you notify the airline about the PIT, should I call them before I get my ticket or should I get my ticket and then add him to the reservation?

3. How should I handle airport security? I have been told that security is pretty tight these days.

4. Is it better to do the early boarding when they call for that or should I just go when my seat is called?

5. Do I need a health certificate? And does GDB cover the vet bill for that or do I need to do it? Also, I will be gone from June to August so if I need another Health Certificate do I need to find a vet in LA to do it for me? I guess I am really asking how long the Health Certificate is valid?

6. Any other tips you can think of to help me out?

I am a tad nervous, but I have always wanted to try flying with a PIT so I am excited too. Oh, and my leader has already cleared Fullerton to fly, so that isn't an issue. :D Thanks Everyone!!!

And because no post is complete without a picture. Here ya go.

"I believe I can FLY!!"
(Sorry for my cheesiness)


Mitch and Meade said...

That will be so fun! I wish I could give you tips but uh... Meade is kinda my first PIT as you know!

Robin said...

Hi Megan,
That's great that you're going to get to fly with Fullerton (who is very cute, btw!). I have flown with every one of our PITS, but always with United...they've been very accommodating, even trying to get us seated in bulkhead or Economy Plus if at all possible. We do try and do the early boarding...just makes things easier for everyone! You are supposed to have a Health Certificate with you (which GDB will not reimburse you for) although we have never, ever been asked to show it! Bon Voyage!
-Robin & Roman

Sarah and the Pack. said...

1. I used Delta, they were pretty good.
2. You shoudl let them know after you have booked your ticket. If they give you any trouble, just call back later and talk with someone else.
3. Make sure he is ok with people touching him.
4. Early boarding helps so that you have time to get him settled.
5. Technically you do, but I have never had to show it. I would get one, and just keep it on you. They are only good for 10 days though, and Guide Dogs does not pay for it.
6. Don't feed him that morning and bring soemthing for him to chew on to help relieve and pressure in his ears.

Madison and Andros said...

1. When I flew with Andros Frontier was good with my PIT.

2. I bought my ticket then called and notified them I'd be flying with a PIT!

3. I would make sure everything you carry is OK with new security guidlines...I then told me what things would set off the machine...Collar, Tags, Leash etc.

4. I just went in when called...but I did only have an 8 wk. old pup!

5. I got a health certificate...better safe than sorry on that one!

Tips: I brought a blanket and a new sterilized filled with peanut butter...it helps keep then happy!
Also before you go practice "Pottying" on ANY surface ANY place!

Good luck! Don't be nervous...It's very fun!

Lisa and Ellie said...

YAY for taking the leap to the friendly skies!

1. When I researched it a few months back, the most friendly airlines I could find with PIT's were Continental and US Airways. Continental was cheaper and was the only one with a direct flight for where I wanted to go - so I picked that one.

2. I called the airline to book my tickets. I had them put on my name that I was flying with a "service dog" (their term, not mine). They requested that I fly with a letter from my school stating that I was a puppy raiser and was legit. They didn't charge me for the pup to fly (they were going to - till I let them know it was a working animal in training and they waived it)

3. Security was the hardest part of the process for me (but only in my home airport - where they don't get too many working dogs). In Houston, they did an excellent job. I just told the security person I had to get my dog in a controlled position then they could pat her down.

4. The airlines encouraged me to do early boarding. So as to get her settled and not have to deal with people who might be rushing to their seats. This worked really well for us. I just had to move her when my seat partner came.

5. It is KSDS policy for us to carry our dogs' health certificate with us everywhere - so yes, I did have my dog's health certificate with me. I also make an ICE (In Case of Emergency) card for each of my pups that has KSDS info with it as well as people in the area I'm traveling to and my home area where they can contact in case of emergency. It also has my vet information. I also carry a law book and KSDS flyers/biz cards to hand out for questioning passengers.

6. Act like you know what you are doing and that you do this all the time and people will believe you. Take some of his kibble with you on the plane. You can feed this to him (one at a time) when you feel your ears pop - this will help his ears pop too and make him more comfortable. I chose aisle seats so Ellie would have a bit more room. The flight attendants let her stretch out into the aisle as long as they were not using the cart for drinks/food. Each flight attendant is different so they may not let you do that - but, at least you can put your feet there. The airline moved my seats each time to the bulkhead. I'm not convinced this has more room, but allows for a quick exit after the flight. That's all the tips I have. I hope it helps.

Have fun - Fullerton will be a great plane rider and a great GDB ambassador - can't wait to hear about your trip.

Rebecca, Ely, and Sherman said...

I have never flown with a puppy in training, but always wanted too. We have meetings at our local airport twice a year. We go through security and board plans. I know most of the puppy raisers who have flown in my group have flown with U.S. Airways. They actually sponsored several puppies from Southeastern. When we go through security we have them do a sit stay then walk through the metal detector and then call them to come. They get patted down since their collars set them off. Most security guards love to pat down the puppies:). If Fullerton is small enough, there is room under a normal row seat. Sherman could fit under one, though he preferred 1st class better. I would shoot for a seat towards the front of the plane, so it is a little less overwhelming. I think that if you call when you buy the tickets and tell them that you have a puppy in training then they can work to get you the best seats.
Here is the link to U.S. Airways

Hope this helps a little:)

Carrie and Waffle said...

Hey Megan, other bloggers have flown with their dogs. Kusahl did a nice post a while back about flying with Lester, check out his 12/27/09 post on www.ironguide.org

Whitney and Ross also have flown recently and can give you some pointers. I have never had the chance. I hear that Alsaka and United are both very good to PIT's and security varies based on if they are dog type people or not.

I live in LA and work near Burbank, if you need anything drop me a line. I'm guessing your back at Bloomfield?

have lots of fun

Alison and Utah said...

Flying with pups in New Zealand is pretty easy so I can't help you with all of the protocal stuff, but I can help you with what to do once you're on the plane. First, if possible, try to request a bulkhead seat -- more leg room for you and your puppy. The airlines here provide a blanket for the puppy to lay on, but if the airline you're using doesn't, think about bringing one because it gives the puppy a "special spot" to be. I always bring a ziploc bag of treats (a.k.a dog food) and a few quiet toys. Some of my dogs need them, some don't. I recently flew with Utah and he really needed the treats during take off and landing to help with thep pressure on his ears. I could tell when he needed them because he would start shaking his head. Some of my other dogs didn't even notice. Most of the time, my dogs just sleep during the flight, but I find bringing a toy a nice back up plan. Good luck and have fun!

raiserally said...

I would use the term Guide Dog-in-training versus puppy-in-training. It sounds more official and they don't think of an 8-week-old puppy being on the plane peeing everywhere /wink/ I've never gotten to fly with a pup but those that have gave you lots of tips! Have fun!

Ariel Segal said...

Hey Megan! Why don't you touch base with Rabbi Shimon Brand, Tahoma's partner about flying w/ seeing eye dogs? Remember he has taken her to Israel!

How is Tahoma doing?

Best, Ariel Segal