Old Dec 9, 2011, 6:01 PM
bfandbf bfandbf is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 1
Default Pet travel on American Airlines

My husband and I were scheduled to fly from San Jose, Costa Rica to Seattle via Dallas with a dog in cargo. When we got to the airport in San Jose, the agent told us that there was a problem with the dog in that it was too cold to fly into Dallas where they were having unexpected and unusually cold temperatures. It was going to be 5 degrees colder than what American's guidelines say is their low limit, 45 degrees F.

I asked what sort of waiver we could obtain since our dog is a heavy coated lab and swims happily in ice water, rolls in snow and goes for long winter walks through the snow.

I was told that there were no waivers possible. I asked to speak to a supervisor who after about 10 minutes showed up and while never looking at me or my husband indicated that there were no waivers possible.

They suggested I go back to my hotel and come back every day to the airport until the temperature had warmed up enough to fly. That being a poor option, I asked to be rerouted to anywhere in the US where it was warm enough to fly. The only option was New York's JFK because that was the only flight where my Mileage Plus ticket could be used because it was the only flight on which there was room for additional Mileage Plus ticketed passengers.

When we landed at JFK late in the afternoon, I went up to a ticket agent to see about getting to Seattle and this agent told me that she had no way to know when we could go to Seattle due to ITS low temperature. I asked if she could look at a weather prediction and she said no. She also said there were absolutely no waivers possible and that a supervisor would tell me the same thing. Like the agent in San Jose, she said I could come back the next afternoon to see if I could fly, and every afternoon thereafter until the temperature in Seattle was warm enough.

Frustrated but keeping my cool, I decided to try one more agent who immediately shook her head and said that she couldn't believe that the previous agents had not immediately told me that all I needed in the first place was a vet to verify that the dog could fly into a city when the temperature was lower than the airline regulations. In San Jose, I had been early enough to have gone to a local vet by cab, gotten the certificate and returned still with 2 hours to spare. I also could have called my Seattle vet and gotten the waiver faxed directly to the American Airlines San Jose office at the airport.

So, I was in New York for no reason. The agent checked my flight the next day to make sure we had reservations and found that we had been routed to Seattle through DALLAS! Ya gotta love it. She switched me to a direct flight. My vet faxed the temperature waiver to my hotel and the next day we flew home without a problem.

Aside from the frustration (during which no voices were raised and no demands were made) we were out the inconvenience of being delayed over 24 hours, the missed connections in getting home from the airport (we live on an island in Puget Sound), we were also out the $150 hotel in New York, the cab fares, the extra meals we had to pay for, etc.

So far, in three e-mail exchanges with the complaint department, I have been offered 5000 miles to be added to my account. I explained that I get miles for free when I use my credit card and when I travel American so that compensation was not adequate or appropriate. There have been no further responses and I'm not sure if there are going to be.

I am fully aware of the necessity of the regulations for temperature limits when flying with a pet. I should have been made aware that there was an American Airlines developed system in place for exceptions to be made and that the exception in this case would have been easily accomplished in a timely manner if it had been offered. Instead I was told there was no possibility of an exception and thus we were out a lot of money and inconvenience.

I spent quite a bit of time with American also highly praising the one agent who quickly helped out and made the effort to get us on our way.

Any ideas for further action?

Old Dec 14, 2011, 6:32 AM
victoria stiles victoria stiles is offline
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 13

Thanks for sharing your experience Barry. Felt bad to know about the inconvenience you faced,but it is really very nice to know about your experience.
Old Dec 17, 2011, 5:50 AM
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 42


It's pretty much going to be either the DOT, as the carriers primary regulatory agency, or the airline itself. You could also use Small Claims court-- but naturally you'd want to be sure of and know where you "stood" in terms of legal merit to your case before moving forward... and know the venue (county) where you can file.

The DOT generally does NOT get in "the middle of" individual complaints unless there appears to be some violation of a DOT rule or regulation, but this is not always mandatory- they do have the right to "advocate" in any case(s) they wish, but generally do so sparingly..... They do however 'roll-up' the individual complaints and publish that data in a monthly score card and use the data to give their rule making activates some added direction.

The only other agency that might be of interest to you is the US Department of Agriculture (yes, agriculture) as they are the Federal agency with primary regulatory authority over the interstate shipment of live animals-- and the agency who 'writes' most of the rules for the carriage of pets on commercial air services.

Best of luck.
Old Dec 29, 2011, 7:10 AM
samson smith samson smith is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: canada
Posts: 10

Nice advice......!!

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