For Christmas 2014, Jared and I flew to Houston to be with my family.
We decided to take Henry with us because honestly, we like having the little guy around. Henry has some pretty bad separation anxiety, especially in new situations, so I did what I could to prepare us and him for the trip.
First, I did some research and discovered it's fairly easy to fly with a pet on Southwest, our airline of choice. To try and ensure success, I picked a nonstop flight to and from Houston. I didn't want Henry to have to suffer through layovers if possible. You do have to call Southwest to make your reservation with a pet rather than doing it online. Jared took care of this, and it was a painless process. You also have to pay a $95 fee both directions. It's up to you if this fee is worth it, but for us, it was!
One important rule of traveling with a pet is they MUST be in an approved crate at all times. Jared and I thought Henry's hard-sided crate would be just fine, because it's small just like him. Unfortunately, we got a bit of a rude awakening when we checked in at the Jacksonville airport. Apparently, our crate was too big, so we had to purchase a soft-sided Southwest one on the spot. Jared and I saw no such requirement for a soft-sided crate on the Web site, but apparently, it is a rule. We saw soft-sided crates much bigger than our hard-sided one being admitted, so rule of thumb: travel with a soft-sided crate!
Unfortunately, we had to stuff Henry into this new crate in a new environment, which he did NOT like. Fortunately, the noise of the airport and the plane drowned out his protests. Towards the end of the flight, he finally calmed down.
The return flight went much more smoothly. Henry was more comfortable with his new crate and knew what to expect, so he sat quietly until the very end of our flight. Overall, it was a fairly pleasant experience and I would certainly do it again.
So if you're planning to fly with a pet on Southwest, here is what I recommend:
- Try and book nonstop flights if possible.
- Call Southwest to make your reservation.
- Purchase a soft-sided crate and give your pet time to acclimate to it. It also helps to put toys and blankets they are familiar with in the crate with them.
- Make sure they take a good potty before going through security, because there's no where to go once you get to the gate!