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flying pets to STT

 
newbie2b
 newbie2b
(@newbie2b)
Guest

Hi, I've been reading the board since Jan, did a PMV in Feb, and am making the move in Sep. I've read a lot about people using Spirit Air to fly their pets down to STT, and I've been planning on using them and have watched their rates and policies. But I just called to make my reservation and double check on the pet situation and was surprised to hear that pets flying into STT cannot go into cargo and therefor must go in the main cabin. My dog is 20lbs and a bit too tall to fit into a carry on bag that would go under the seat. Has this always been their policy and others caught them on good days, or did this change? I don't really want to rely on catching the captain in a good mood and letting my dog on, but the other airlines are so rigid. Any info or recommendations would help a lot, thanks.

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Topic starter Posted : August 4, 2006 7:13 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
Trusted Member

I don't know about Spirit Air but other airlines that fly here do take pets in cargo. Of course not in September because it's still too hot.

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Posted : August 4, 2006 7:28 pm
HipCrip
(@HipCrip)
Trusted Member

Welcome.

Just a note to be careful about the terminology you use when working with the airlines. I thin,k what you're really hoping for is to have your dog fly crated in the passenger plane's baggage hold while you're in the cabin, which is, in my experience, different than having the little guy fly cargo. There's lots of posts and moving stories on the board that talk about this experience, and it seems that cargo is far, far more costly that buying passage as baggage for your pet on your flight.

Don't know if they still do it, but US Air had pressurized, cooled baggage compartments and would fly dogs under 100 lbs that were too big to fit under a seat for $100, with no restrictions on when they'd allow pets to fly. (Carriers with non-cooled baggage holds will not accept any animals during the hotter summer months.

Things have changed a lot and policies seem to shift at the drop of the hat, but don't get discouraged. I know the Humane Society on STX runs an animal rescue program in which vacationing mainlanders can volunteer to accompany shelter animals to the new homes in the states -- perhaps you could call them and ask if they know the latest info on airlines serving the islands who still offer the pets travel as luggage option. You can find their number at viphonebook.com

Best wishes from myself and the three kitties who moved here with us! (And from their two island-born shelter kitty siblings who joined our family just after we arrived.)

--HC

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Posted : August 4, 2006 7:44 pm
Eve
 Eve
(@Eve)
Advanced Member

HC! You have five now! Yipes!

Newbie, I have been obsessive about my baby. She is a miniture 6lb 6oz Jack Russell. She loves her little crates or as I tell her "bedrooms" but I am flying her as carryon this Wednesday. I still am freakin about this one. She went to the vet yesterday everything is good. The guidelines for cats and dogs for entering the USVI are on this website (check the homepage). The guidelines for flying your pet are on the airlines own webpage. They will be different than the other. I am using American. I spent a day going from pet store to pet store trying to find a crate in the guidelines for carryon. The acceptable weight is 20lbs for carryon so I know I'm good there. There is not one manufacturer that I can find that makes the d%$m crate to guideline specs ( the plastic crate!) For goodness sake.... So I buy the smallest freakin crate I can find. So I obsess some more.... I spend 8 hours on line looking for a crate in the specified dimensions and find that it is NOT made. UNDERLINED! So I order a soft side gym bag for dogs. RIIIIIIIGGGGTTTTT. So far I have put all of Alie's bedrooms away. And only left her the soft side gym bag with her favorite toys. We'll see!!! What I plan to do is take both of the small crates to the check in and whatever one they will approve she's got for the day. The one they don't like - gets returned. Check American though as well. I know they said that a 20lb was okay for carryon. If the plastic crate goes through I will let you know as soon as possible with the dimension and name.

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Posted : August 5, 2006 3:24 am
Becky R
(@Becky_R)
Trusted Member

Eve, check with the airlines if you are leaving a major departure city - some of them, if they have a cargo area, will actually have crates in stock and will sell them to you at way cheaper than I found anywhere else. I believe I bought mine through American way back in the day when someone would answer the phone at the cargo center, and I picked them up at the Little Rock hub. Mine were HUGE, but they had a good selection of very small ones that I crates only a small Jack Russell or pup could fit into...my dogs couldn't even get their paws in there...but if I remember correctly I had to go through the cargo people to find these. Having flown back and forth many times in the past year, I've seen lots of folks with cats and small dogs in the soft-sided bags you are talking about. Saw one lady with a Yorkie in her purse...please have a leash handy, they will probably make you take your pup out of the crate and scan both the crate and the dog, and you cannot be anywhere touching the dog when that happens. If there is any chance your dog could be upset enough in all of the confusion to snap or bite, have a soft muzzle handy. Just explain the dog is high-strung and nervous about change, and it is a safety measure until the dog can be safely crated again, as the airlines will bump you in a heartbeat with any animal that exhibits aggressive behavior. Having them bite the TSA scanning person would probably qualify! 🙂

Just a bit of what may sound like manipulative advice and probably is, and I apologize to any airline people...try to find the agent that looks like he/she is having the "best" morning, and maybe someone a little more seasoned who isn't stuck on rules. Go early, before everyone is stacked up and personnel is under a lot of pressure to make things flow. Although mine weren't shipped in the cabin, we made friends with the early morning people with TSA and at the ticket counters (we shipped 4 very over-the-100 lbs. limit dogs). We were never questioned because we were fortunate -we came and went enough that they got to know us...but we used the same guy every time (yes, the luck of the Irish!). We shipped two smaller dogs out the first two trips - after that, they just let anything we had go on by after the requisite TSA screening. I think we got charged an overage one time. No one EVER looked at the paperwork I had so carefully assembled and put into file folders. Sometimes "who" you pick is as important as the crate itself, I do believe, as others have told me their shipping adventure was not nearly as pleasant as ours. One friend on STT had to ship her dog in baggage because he and his crate were 2 lbs. over limit even though the crate was regulation for flying in the cabin area. It was on a particularly crowded flight, though...maybe if you are on a flight that isn't jam packed they aren't as stringent with the rules.

I'm hijacking your thread a little bit - I've posted this before - but Cape Air was absolutely wonderful on the STT to STX leg when one of the last Rottweilers came in with my cousin. She is WAY big and her crate simply would not fit into the luggage area fully assembled. However, the pilot assured my cousin they WOULD get her here. I think they had to wait through a few flights, but at the end of the day the Cape Air people broke her crate down, put it in luggage, and Chelsea rode in the cabin with my cousin and probably 12 other people. Cape Air probably broke every rule in the book on that one, but they definitely had a heart. And 12 very apprehensive islanders got to meet a wonderful rescued Rottweiler who is also a therapy dog - she was apparently the hit of the show (or maybe not since everyone let her get off the plane first!). For those of you with larger dogs - please keep your dog safely crated until you are off the airport grounds...we felt sorry for the first Rott we brought in, who looked tired and thirsty and like he needed a break...we got out the leash and clipped it on him and freed him in the baggage area...and cleared out the room in 30 seconds or less. A less than brilliant decision. Right across from the airport on St. Croix is a big grassy area where the racetrack is...a much better spot to have a reunion. Although many of the locals own large dogs, I haven't met one yet that isn't afraid of them.

Be nice, be courteous, be desperate. It goes a long way. Eve, I'm betting you will have a very positive experience since you have prepared yourself well and have an alternate plan.

Newbie2b, I hope all goes well for you. You could consider dumping your ticket or rearranging it, perhaps catching Cape Air out of Puerto Rico? You would have to check with them on their policies, but they surely were amenable to just about anything...of course, that was a year ago and things change so quickly...

One addition, then I will stop my novelette....if any of the personnel on the flight are particularly helpful or nice or take extra care and concern with you and your pooches, particularly if you are flying them later in the year in baggage when the weather cools, please DO take a moment and write the airline a letter commending that person for their effort. Too much of the time, the baggage handlers are the unsung heroes of situations where something very precious to you needs extra attention....we all hear about lost luggage and things going missing, but try to at least give a general atta-boy to anyone who tries a little harder and goes the extra mile. It's so helpful to them, and the airline corporate office needs to know the good, as well as the bad and the ugly.

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Posted : August 5, 2006 10:15 am
newb2b
(@newb2b)
New Member

Thanks everyone! I was really trying to stick with a direct flight so that my dog wouldn't have to go through too much hassle to get to STT, after all he didn't ask to go. The only airlines offering direct flights were Spirit Air and American. So, I ended up booking with American. He is just too tall to fit under the seat in front of me, even if his weight is ok. Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope that the weather restrictions go ok. There are direct flights out of Miami to STT 3 days in a row, so hopefully one of those days will be below 85. The average high for Sep 30 is 87, so I think we should get there.

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Posted : August 5, 2006 6:24 pm
Eve
 Eve
(@Eve)
Advanced Member

Becky,
I am so concerned about the bag size, I did not even think about the screening phase. Now I'm worried again. Little Alie was abused as a pup on a choke chain. (Her little bitty neck is the size of my wrist. She could wear my hook bracelet for a collar! She had her vocal cords crushed and refuses to wear anything around her neck. No cute collars, shirts, leashes. GREAT! I may call the vet on monday and have him right a letter explaining that. By the way wait til you hear her bark. It is hysterical to watch her yapping away in a terrier frenzy and not a peep out of her. But definanetly not funny how this has happened to her. We have tried everything working with her too.

I think explaining that, though will help out. With a lot of kissing A$$ and sucking up to the TSA agent.

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Posted : August 6, 2006 12:52 pm
Becky R
(@Becky_R)
Trusted Member

Eve -

Tell them, by all means, that she is a rescue dog - throw in her story for free - go early if you can. You can also buy a harness type contraption rather than the neck collar to avoid the need for upsetting her any further and putting anything around her poor little neck, but your vet's letter ain't gonna fly as far as getting her out of TSA screening. They are very serious about it, and rightfully so.

There is something called Rescue Remedy which you can get at Petsmart or somewhere like that. It is a completely natural herbal oral treatment which does not sedate, but does relax your dog. I worked with Rottweiler transport for years, we used it on long trips where the dogs had to be transferred many times and handled by many people. Works like a charm. The airlines do not want your pet sedated, and neither do you...I guess this would be the equivalent of a cup of soursop tea for pooches? She will just be calmer and less likely to go off on a tangent with a few drops...maybe while she is calm you could gently put a soft nylon muzzle on her 30 seconds before you walk into the airport if you feel she has the potential to snap under stress. As soon as she is through the screening, take it off and you're good to go.

PM me if you need anything else, please...having transported here, there and yon, I will be glad to help in any way I possibly can.

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Posted : August 6, 2006 1:14 pm
Eve
 Eve
(@Eve)
Advanced Member

Becky,
We tried the harness but it seems like it still constricts around the bottom area of the neck. Nothing and I mean nothing on her has worked. I've spent some good money experimenting. I will check on the rescue remedy though. Sounds like a good idea. She has not tried to snap or nip at people, thank goodness and is happy in my arms. I may be able to put the leash on her for that thirty seconds to crawl through the security gate from me to hubby. We are getting to DTW at about five in order to have plenty of time. One thing about these early flights out of DTW is that nobody else shows up early. Should not be to bad.

Hip Crip, you went with cats, did you leash them to get through security or hold them in your arms? How about others with very small dogs or cats. It is funny that as much as I have flown, I've never seen the animals until on the plane (and that was an anteater and a couple penguins with Seaworld). I can't imagine an anteater on a leash... Penguins maybe but it does make me laugh thinking about it...

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Posted : August 6, 2006 2:00 pm
HipCrip
(@HipCrip)
Trusted Member

Eve,

We took our two oldest cats as carry-on, and our 18 month old adventure kitty was checked as baggage. Woof, the oldest, doesn't really feel secure around new people, so we were a bit fearful of what would happen when he came out of the carrier (which paled next to our fears about him breaking out into his infamous "I am so not happy yowl" during the flight, a noise so bad, pitiful and loud it would have people begging to trade him for a couple of unhappy teething babies to sit next to them. Moo is the ultimate people kitty and loves attention so we knew he'd be okay. Mind you these boys each weigh more than three times your dainty little 6 pound poochie.

No collars, leashes, or muzzles were used on Woof or Moo, but our vet gave us a very mild sedative for them that would calm nerves without knocking them out or for a loop since they would be under our direct care and in sight for the whole time. Per instructions, we gave them the meds before we left home, so it was about an hour after that when we got to the security checkpoint. The TSA guys at Reagan National didn't bat any eye at that when the kids came out of the soft-sided carriers. Moo was carried with by the HH when he walked through the metal detector, but Woof shared in my hand searching as I can't stand to walk nor can I roll through the detector. The TSA folks were really nice that morning, and seemed to be animal likers or at least understood critters, and the woman that did my wanding and pat down gave the Woof cat some nice skritches and pests as she wanded and patted him down thoroughly while he sat on my lap after my search was complete. Moo barely blinked a few extra times -- just took it all in stride, even ignoring the folks telling him what gorgeous coloring "she" had.

Whole thing added only two minutes to our regular TSA processing time, and as long as we held the boys in our arms or lap, they were pretty non-plussed with the whole thing.

Given your description that your rescue baby is quite happy in your arms and you follow Becky's advice about chatting up the TSA gang and gate personnel, I think you'll both be fine.

Three days and counting down fast!

Your friend, ME.

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Posted : August 6, 2006 4:17 pm
Eve
 Eve
(@Eve)
Advanced Member

Hi ME, Its ME!
Two full days and counting. I will let everyone know asap about the process with Alie. All I can do is hope and pray at this point. I am kicking myself for not flying out of Toledo Express but that would have meant going through San Juan. We know a lot of people working at Toledo though.

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Posted : August 7, 2006 10:30 am
newbie2b
 newbie2b
(@newbie2b)
Guest

Toledo, Ohio? I'm from Columbus, are you relocating?

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Topic starter Posted : August 8, 2006 3:28 am
HipCrip
(@HipCrip)
Trusted Member

newbie2b,

Eve is probably up to her eyeballs with last day prep, so I'll tell you that yes, she and her husband are relocating from Toledo to St. Croix on the 9th (as in about 24-30 hours from now!). If you do a search for posts authored by Eve, you'll find a very comprensive and honest diary of her two plus year process of making this big move. She's been a wealth of info and support to many. I'm confident that she will update on how Alie made the trip here this post or in a larger account of moving day as soon as she can after arriving on island. 🙂

Let us know how the critters and you make out with your journey.

--HC

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Posted : August 8, 2006 4:33 am
Islander
(@the-islander)
Member Moderator

Lauren @ 340-626-1703 is starting a pet charter business. She will be flying animals to and from the Island.

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Posted : August 8, 2006 1:43 pm
captpete
(@captpete)
Advanced Member

Most pets that are traveling go in pet kennels, not crates or cargo. As long as there are no temperature (>+85F)embargos for the cities transited in your route, they go in the baggage section of the aircraft. Usually the section just under the forward cabin and infront of the landing gear and wing structure. Call the airlines 800 line ticketing and ask for a supervisor if you feel your getting the wrong info. Pets also need reservations, only so many can go into the planes hold or in the about cabins. You can get their reservation when you book yours, again provided that there are no embargoes.
The cargo system to the USVirgin islands was stopped several years ago when too many drugs were being transited via STX and STT to the mainland! Kennels now ship as baggage. Be prepared to have doctors certificate and vaccination papers, plus put your name and the pets name on the kennel. The ramp people do talk to the animals, I have seen them care.
I know that the major carriers (AA) sell flight kennels for all size dogs, S,M, L, XL, that come knocked down and have to be assembled. Each kennel must allow for the pet to stand and turn around, otherwise they have the right to refuse transit! Purchase the proper kennel. There is usually an extra fee for the loading and unloading of the kennel, I think that it is presently $100 for the inbound flights to STT and STX.
I have recently flown 3 retrievers and 2 cats from STX to the mainland, no problems or cause for alarm. Do not give pets meals or water prior to flight, freeze the drink tray in the kennel and they will lick it every so often. Some "puppy prozac" also does a good job to sleep them through. Check with your vet. I used 1/2 of a pill for a 2400 mile transit.
Best of luck, but follow the airlines rules, they also care about animals.

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Posted : August 9, 2006 2:48 am
Eve
 Eve
(@Eve)
Advanced Member

We made our flight just fine on Aug 9. We had Alie out of her gym bag twice until we arrived at Linda's (and than she peed and peed and .....) once was while I held her through security check point. TSA agent did not even blink with me holding her. Second was when we were smoking in the courtyard at Miami. She stayed in my arms, ate a few dog treats and drank some water. We hid in the corner with her as to not draw attention. She was under the seat only during take off and landing. Other than that, I put the tray down and set her on the tray in her bag and she was content to curl up and peek at me every now and than.

Alie did great and recovered well and all the neighbours laugh at her when she tries to bark at them. One lady, I swear laughed for five minutes and I could hear her in the house laughing! I guess my dog is scary! Not!

Nobody asked for any paperwork for Alie, Anywhere.

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Posted : August 18, 2006 3:28 pm
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