My sister pointed out this article to me today. Please take a moment to read it. http://shine.yahoo.com/pets/more-pets-died-delta-flights-2011-why-211100693.html. See my explanation below.
Normally, I don’t take these articles too seriously. I don’t like how they try to play around with facts and dramatize statistics just to make headlines. From reading this article alone, I would gather that flying with a pet is a risk and maybe Delta had some bad luck last year with weather, medical issues, and pet owners making poor decisions.
I am not judging Delta’s animal practices just from this article though, I am basing it on my own experience flying home with our puppy from Costa Rica this past December 2011. I referenced it briefly in this post when we first got back, but honestly I just haven’t been in the right frame of mind to write a post about our flying experience. It was traumatic for all of us (to say the least). I didn’t want to come out and bash Delta (that’s not what this blog is about), but really, after reflecting on the experience for 2 months, I can confidently say they were awful.
We did a lot of research before flying home and really liked what we read about Delta’s pet program. We thought Mango might be too big to fly under the seat (he was still growing when we booked the tickets several months in advance) so we flew him as checked baggage instead of in the cabin to avoid getting stuck in Costa Rica. And Delta treated him like checked baggage, or probably worse.
Everything went smoothly leaving Costa Rica, we had all the necessary documentation and health verifications (including an arrow sticker saying “this side up” on his crate- that should have been our first indication that something wasn’t right…) It was surprisingly not in Costa Rica that our flight problems started but rather our layover in Atlanta that was a mess (we couldn’t find a direct flight from San Jose-Boston so the layover somewhere couldn’t be avoided).
I’ll be happy to share our whole story with anyone interested, but to spare you all the details here now, I’ll keep it short as possible. Basically, they lost our dog in Atlanta. Twice. I was in over-tired, over-whelmed and in tears. Delta gave us several free drink tickets (should you even drink that much on a flight?), then threatened to call security on me if I didn’t calm down. One women (Gail) even said “ma’am, please sit down. You’ve been dealt with”. Really? I’ve been dealt with? Because my dog is still missing and no one can confirm that he is even okay.
They didn’t take Mango out to go to the bathroom during the layover, as promised (because he was lost) and so he was locked in his crate from 2AM in Costa Rica until 9PM in Logan Airport. 19 hours. Locked in a crate.
Also, they “found” him in Atlanta right before our original flight was set to take off. We were so relieved and all ready to board, when we were called to the front desk. I thought we were going to get bumped up to first class for all our trouble, but no! They called us up to tell us the heater in the baggage area (where the dog would be flying) was broken, so it would be freezing there. They asked if we wanted to fly without him, or wait for another flight with him. Seeing as though we paid hundreds of dollars to fly with our dog (about the cost of another passenger ticket), we opted to wait a few more hours to get home (even though we were coming home after a year away and had many friends and family eagerly waiting our arrival. Our luggage was left on this freezing flight with no heat, and many of our souvenirs got broken/ruined in the cold, but that’s beside the point).
During this additional layover, Mango still didn’t get taken out and they wouldn’t let us see him.
It. Was. Awful.
Basically Delta treated our dog, a living animal, in a manner that would be insulting to a suitcase. And they didn’t treat us (their paying customers) much better. I will probably never fly Delta again because of how deceiving their pet program was, and how disrespectful they were to us. If you decide to still fly with them after this, let me know, because I still have some of those drink tickets they gave me in exchange for my dog’s safety and my sanity. I am happy to report that Mango made it to Boston happy and healthy, but that happy and healthy part is no thanks to Delta. As proof that he’s okay, I have included a picture of him cuddling with my friend Ashley tonight:
It’s still hard for me to write about this, but after seeing that article tonight I felt it was my duty to share my story. I wish I had read something like this before I choose to fly with my animal on Delta.
As the article states, please only fly with your pets if it’s an absolute necessity, and if it is, don’t fly them on Delta.
Emergency Travel Alert: Don’t Transport Pets By Air!
Airlines Show Little Regard For Animals’ Safety
35 Pets Died On Airplanes Last Year, Over Half On Delta
Over Half the Pets That Died On Airplanes Last Year Flew Delta