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Advanced Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 320
August 10, 2005 12:38 pm  

I flew down to STX with 2 dogs (65 pounds and 30 pounds) in mid May on US Air from Charlotte with no problems. I rented a car from National Car Rental and drove 5 hours the night before the flight so that I could have a direct flight rather than a connecting flight. US Air would not guarantee their reservation and said pets flew on a first come/first serve basis. However, they were able to tell me that only a few pets had been booked so it looked like there would not be a problem. I arrived fairly early (about 2 hours before the flight) at the airport, dropped the dogs (in crates) and suitcases off outside the terminal at the luggage handler station, tipped the guy very well to watch out for the dogs, and returned the rental car. Returned to the terminal, picked up the cart with hounds, and got in line to check in. At the ticket counter I paid $100/dog. The agent asked if I had health certificates for the dogs (which I did) but did not look at them. I then took the dogs down to the gate access security checkpoint, where I had to wait for a security agent to check the dog crates. I had to take the dogs out of the crates in a very high traffic area so that the crates could be checked by hand. After that, a luggage handler rolled the crates to an elevator and I headed to the gate. At the gate I told the agents that I was flying with 2 dogs and if for some reason the dogs did not make it on the plane then I needed to know since I would have to remain at the airport and make other arrangements. After boarding (around 10:30 am), I was able to look out the window and see the dogs being loaded. A stewardess also came back and told me that they had been loaded with no problems. When we landed on STX (around 2:30 pm) my wife met me at the airport and we went to the baggage claim area. Before the luggage came out on the conveyor belt the dog crates from the flight were brought in through a side door. We took the crates outside, freed the hounds, and that was the end of this story. Some things that might make it easier for others are:

1) All car rental companies are not equal when it comes to one-way rentals, which are much more expensive than local rentals. National Car Rental advertises that they are one-way rental specialist. I checked with 4 or 5 of the other well known companies and they were all 2 to 3 times more expensive for a one day/one way rental. We had already shipped our vehicles so I had rented a vehicle from another company for the week (at about half the price of National for a local rental) and then swapped cars on the day I drove to Charlotte. I rented both cars at a local airport to make the swapover easier.

2) I did sedate the smaller super-hyper dog without problem. The vet gave us three pills so we could try it out at home before we left and plus have an extra in case we ran into delays during the flight and had to overnight somewhere. I gave him a minimal dose a couple of days before we left and verified that it only made him a little drowsey.

3) The dog crates have to be marked with signs stating "Live Animal" on 2 sides. I did not attach water bowls to the cages and put their leashes inside the crates with them.

4) My wife flew down a few days earlier (with my mother-in-law) with most of the luggage primarily because there was no way there would be enough room in the vehicles for 2 dog crates, 3 people, and our luggage. In addition, it allowed her to pick us up at the airport and minimize the delays with renting the vehicle upon arrival with the dogs.

5) In mid-May, direct flights to STX were available from Charlotte (US Air), Miami (American) and Atlanta (Delta). The reservation agents I talked with (American and US Air) said that the decision on whether animals could fly due to the heat was made at the airport on the day of the flight. However, they strongly implied that it did not happen very often. I also called the US Air office at the Charlotte airport and the agent I spoke with said that although it could happen she was not aware of it ever happening at Charlotte.

6) There are a lot of hotels along the interstate that allow pets (at least in NC), although a number of them have limits on size and number

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