The plan involved a flight from Tijuana to Monterrey where Broccoli would travel in his kennel in the cargo area of the plane.
As we expected, this was no easy feat. Broccoli is a long dog. Even though he is short in height, his length meant that we would have to get him a large kennel (Petmate Sky Kennel for Pets from 50 to 70 lbs, 36″x25″x27″), which proved to be difficult to fit in my car.
Friday morning came along. I took Broccoli to the dog park for a while so that he could run around and unleash some energy (pun intended) with the hopes that he would be calmer during his 2.5 hour flight.
We got home, got cleaned up, and were all set to go. With a bit of wiggling around, I loaded the disassembled kennel in the passenger seat, threw Broccoli in the back seat, and we were on our way to pick up Ceci from work.
Arriving at Tijuana Airport
Parking at the airport in Tijuana is not cheap (as is the case at most airports). Luckily, we were able to park our car at Ceci’s work and had a very kind friend drop us off. Once at the airport, things got messy.
To begin, we were asked to assemble the kennel outside the airport. Dogs were not allowed to walk inside, even on a leash (doh!). Therefore, we got to work; Ceci took Broccoli for a quick walk while I assembled the kennel. After a few minutes of fumbling with all the little nuts and bolts and securing the two halves of the kennel with a few zip ties, we loaded our pooch and were headed to the check in counter.
Although we weren’t traveling with much luggage, the large kennel requires two people using two hands each to carry. At 43 lbs., carrying him and pulling luggage would be impossible. Instead, we decided that the best way for all of us to make our way to the check in counter would be to drag Broccoli.
We checked in, wished Broccoli a safe trip and headed to our gate.
Although I had read that dogs are often loaded prior to luggage, our airline loaded him last. We had a window seat, so we were able to visually confirm that he was loaded and on our flight.
The Flight and Outcome
The flight felt unusually bumpy. I don’t know if it was actually bumpy, or if we were just thinking of Broccoli and imagining the stress that each bump induced. Additionally, the cabin remained rather warm for most of the flight.
When we arrived in Monterrey, Broccoli was the last “piece of luggage” to make it on the conveyor belt. We grabbed our pup, dragged him outdoors as quickly as possible, and practically ripped the kennel open.
Poor Broccoli… He was extremely anxious! His body felt very warm and he couldn’t stop running around and drinking water. We think that the A/C on the plane was not working very well because, if the cabin was warm, there was a good chance that the cargo area was even warmer, explaining his high temperature.
Other than the moment of arrival and the stress that Broccoli seems to have undergone, things were relatively smooth and issue-free. But, seeing how stressed Broccoli seemed will make me strongly consider not flying with him in the future.
Things to consider
If you are planning on flying with your dog, I highly suggest you do some research well ahead of time. Websites like Pet Travel provide lots of great tips and information about different carriers and their respective guidelines. A few tips I can provide:
- Be sure to obtain the correct size kennel for your dog as they need to be able to turn completely within the kennel. If your dog is long like Broccoli, she may need a larger kennel than you might expect.
- Take the time to think through each step from the moment you will leave your house to the time you get to the check-in counter. Kennels can be difficult to lug around. It may also be difficult to place in your car, especially if you have a two-door or are bringing lots of luggage.
- This may also mean that you will have to assemble the kennel at the airport, so be sure to practice a few times at home. Fumbling with hardware is not something you want to be doing when you’re in a rush.
- On the note of hardware, bring your own zip ties! Use a few around the parts that attach the two halves, and at least two to hold the door closed. These may save your pet and keep it inside its kennel in case some of the hardware breaks. Don’t rely on the airline as they may not have any, or not the right size.
- On the day of your flight, you should try to take your dog to the park or for a long walk or run. This may help calm him down and relax during this relatively stressful ordeal.
- Make sure you have all your documents prepared and in hand! The worst thing that you can do is be completely prepared and arrive at the check-in counter only to find that you forgot your pet’s vaccination records/health certificate/etc.
- If possible, scan/photograph and email yourself all relevant documentation. Use this as a last resort, in case you forget your pet’s documents. If they’re lucky, you may be able to show them the document on your phone or find a place to print within the airport.
- Have water ready for your pet on arrival as they will likely be dehydrated from the flight.
If you plan ahead, prepare your documents and hardware, and arrive very early at the airport, you shouldn’t have much trouble traveling with your pet.
For peace of mind, ask the flight staff to confirm once your pet is on board and request that they inform the pilot that your pet will be in the plane’s belly.
Once you arrive, give your furry friend lots of hugs and belly rubs! They’ll likely be a little stressed and in serious need of sum luvin’!
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