Did this traveler really abandon his dog “curbside” at the airport?

Aron Szekely’s complaint stunned our advocates — but not in the way he had hoped. When American Airlines refused to allow his faithful companion on a flight to Japan, did this military man simply abandon his dog at the airport? Read more “Did this traveler really abandon his dog “curbside” at the airport?”

Traveling with pets may cost you more than you think

Mihejevs/Shutterstock
Mihejevs/Shutterstock
A carry-on bag is included in Lana Joseph’s ticket price whenever she flies from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on United Airlines. But if that carry-on includes Molly, her six-pound Yorkshire terrier, Joseph has to cough up an additional $250 round-trip.

“That’s way too much for a bag that goes under the seat,” says Joseph, a retired hairstylist from Akron, Ohio, who spends her winters in South Florida. “I can see a small charge, but not an exorbitant fee.”

Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of pet travel — a world that some say shouldn’t even exist. Americans spent an estimated $55.7 billion on pets last year, according to the American Pet Products Association, most of it on food and veterinary care. But an unknown portion of that amount also paid for plane tickets and accommodations for man’s best friends.
Read more “Traveling with pets may cost you more than you think”

OK, here’s what we should allow on plane …

Mihejevs/Shutterstock
Mihejevs/Shutterstock
Can we look past this ridiculous debate about cellphones on planes? Can we ignore, for a moment, the breathless opinion polls, the pompous declarations by airlines that they’d never allow wireless chatter in their cabins, and the heated discussions you’ve read in your favorite travel blog?

Mobile phones on commercial flights, already on their way to becoming a reality in the rest of the civilized world, will eventually come to the United States. It matters not that 59% of Americans in a recent Quinnipiac University poll declared they’re against it. Since when is the interior of an aircraft — where good etiquette remains in short supply — a yak-free zone like a library or church?
Read more “OK, here’s what we should allow on plane …”

Want an airline to change? Then speak with a million voices

If you don't change you could end up here. / Photo by jwm 1049 - Flickr
When it comes to customer service, travel companies constantly push the limits with fees, surcharges and onerous policies. No industry does it more than the airlines, and no domestic airline does it more than Spirit Airlines, the small Florida-based carrier known for its risque ads and creative extras.

But consider what happened to Spirit last week, when the carrier made two decisions that drew an immense amount of publicity, much of it unexpected.
Read more “Want an airline to change? Then speak with a million voices”

Ridiculous or not? Travel is going to the dogs — and it’s our fault

From the “gotcha” fees that can double the price of your trip to being roughed up by airport screeners, there’s no shortage of issues to get mad about in the travel business.

So why do we allow the little things to set us off?

Case in point: My last article on pets and travel, which set off a firestorm when it appeared here a few weeks ago. I wrote that pets were better off at home and had no business joining you on vacation.

My “in” box promptly filled up with email from angry animal companions – yes, that’s what they call themselves, because it’s apparently species-centric to say that you “own” a cat or dog – criticizing me for my insensitivity.
Read more “Ridiculous or not? Travel is going to the dogs — and it’s our fault”

Road trip update: What should we do with these cats?

This is Pollux, our Bengal cat. We would take him on our road trip if we could, but it’s just not practical.

Pollux isn’t the only cat who owns us. Two other Bengals, Clio and Lia, belong to our family, and we love them all dearly.

We had made arrangements to leave the feline members of our household with a relative, which would have been ideal, but they fell through last week.

Our road trip could take a whole year, and canceling our plans at this late date would be impossible. We have a sitter for the next few weeks, but beyond that, we don’t know what to do. Maybe you can help?
Read more “Road trip update: What should we do with these cats?”

Ridiculous or not? Your pet isn’t welcome on board this summer

This was supposed to be the best summer ever for pets that fly.

Pet Airways, the upstart air carrier for animals, is just starting to hit its stride. It recently added flight to Orlando and St. Louis, and its revenues more than doubled from a year ago. Not too shabby!

Several airlines have also introduced pet-friendly promotions, most notably JetBlue Airways, with its quirky JetPaws program, which is now in its third summer.

Even the airlines that weren’t exactly pet-friendly appear to have gotten in touch with their animal side. Sure, there are still sporadic pet deaths — here’s a site that tracks them closely — but it’s nothing like it was a few summers ago, when animals were routinely dying the cargo hold, and often under tragic and inhumane circumstances.

So why has this summer gone to the dogs?
Read more “Ridiculous or not? Your pet isn’t welcome on board this summer”

Traveling with pets (but first, a Chihuahua-on-a-plane story)

There’s an unwritten rule in travel journalism that any story about pets on planes must contain at least one Chihuahua anecdote. I know, because I’ve written many of them. So let’s get right to Charlotte Coan and her travel companion, Cricket.

Coan, a retired educator from West Yellowstone, Mont., frequently packs her nine-pound dog in her carry-on luggage. But like an increasing number of travelers, she doesn’t tell anyone. She’s been caught twice, and the airline has forced her to pay a $150 surcharge for the pet.

“When I asked why I had to pay a fee in order to stuff my dog under the seat in front of me, I was told it was their policy,” she said. “I concluded that it’s really just a ploy to charge another fee.”

A lot of travelers have been arriving at the same conclusion lately, although exact numbers are difficult to come by. Instead of paying extra “pet fees” to hotels or airlines, they’re spiriting their animal companions into their bags or under blankets in the hope of saving a few bucks.
Read more “Traveling with pets (but first, a Chihuahua-on-a-plane story)”