Leela is finally home and is currently cuddled next to me. She loves cuddling, hugs, and kisses.
We were separated for two days and it was torturous.
When we knew that Leela was the dog for us, ST called American Airlines about how to safely transport her back to NYC. The agent assured him that our new doggy could be checked as cargo and it was easy as confirming the reservation over the phone and paying $175 at the ticket counter.
You can see where this story is going.
On the morning of our 7 am flight, we arrived at 5:30 am to give us plenty of time to get Leela checked in. There was a long line and people who were close to missing their flight were pushed ahead of us so we didn’t get to the ticket counter until 6 am. Then, the agent informs us that since its freezing in NYC, we wouldn’t be able to check her. American Airlines may leave their cargo on the tarmac during layovers and delays, so Leela would have been exposed to freezing weather for undetermined hours.
The worst part was that the agent kept insisting that we should ask the veterinarian for a letter of acclimation stating that Leela could be left in temperatures as low as 20º F. But… she can’t. She would get hypothermia and die. So, we called my MIL and she drove twenty-five minutes back to the airport to pick her up. We left El Paso without our sweet pup.
Once home, I began the long search for a way to safely bring Leela home. Unfortunately, Pet Airways hasn’t been doing well (I think the company folded), with an unsavory reputation to boot. There are hundreds of private pet transportation services, but most prices start at a staggering $995. Finally, I found United Airlines Petsafe. Reservations must be made via the phone and cannot be pre-paid; whoever drops her off must pay at the ticket counter. They charge by weight, so it cost $258 after all taxes and fees for 33 lbs (Leela’s weight + her kennel). She flew to NYC in a pressurized and climate controlled cargo plane.
…Not so fast. Ugh. Her first flight was cancelled because the flight was not pressurized. We had no prior notice. Our only consolation is that my awesome MIL chewed them out for wasting everyone’s time. So Leela’s homecoming was delayed for four hours. I guess it was all for the best – we didn’t have to sit in rush hour traffic on the BQE.
We got to LaGuardia about a minute after her plane landed. It only took about ten minutes for us to get her, even though the agent had said forty-five minutes over the phone. I saw her drinking from her cup when we picked her up so I assume the staff was kind enough to give her water during a layover. They also carefully taped her toys and leash to the top of her kennel. She didn’t have any cuts or bruises and seemed completely fine and happy. All in all, Petsafe was probably the safest, most affordable option and we’d recommend them.
She was ecstatic to be home with her adoptive parents, aunts, and uncle. She is so loved.