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How easy is it to fly internationally with your pet on Delta?

Over the ten years I've been flying with a dog, a majority of my 75 flights I took with her were with Delta. I've seen a lot of changes over the years with how dogs are treated when flying, and I have always felt most confident flying with Delta. My last dog though was a registered service animal, and she sadly left me for her final destination last March. I now have a new dog named Peru I am training, you may know him as my head of barketing. It will be sometime before his training is completed so in the meantime I'm exploring what it's like to travel with a pet dog in cabin internationally in 2023.

Peru and I awaiting disem-bark-ation in Bermuda on November 26, 2023

How to buy your ticket (it may matter)

In a recent research interview, I heard from one pet parent that it's important to book directly with the airline and not through an OTA or online travel agent. In their experience, they've had difficulty adding their service dog to their reservation afterwards if their booking was made through anyone other than the airline directly. I always book directly using the Delta app as I find it to be one of the best airline apps I use compared to others so that was no trouble. I was familiar with adding a service animal through Delta, but hadn't tried to add a pet in a decade. I didn't exactly know where to start.

How to add your pet

Nearly all airlines are still without the capability of adding a pet to your reservation when you book your ticket online and require you to do some googling to find out how to contact them in order to add a dog to your reservation. Some airlines are still in the stone ages and require a phone call, a painful process for anyone but especially busy pet parents. I thought I'd try out the Delta chat app first and see if they could avoid me hours of googling and who knows - maybe they could even add the pet for me.

I recently had two reservations I just flew. For both I used the chat option within the Delta app initially as a place to just ask, 'How do I add a pet?' Both times I was able to have my pet added to my trip simply by sharing my record locator number and logging in with my skymiles account.

The first trip I was referred to a human who asked a series of questions about my pet dog. The second trip my request was entirely added by a chatbot 🤖

Both times they were successfully added, which further proved a success closer to my flight.

Preparing for the trip

About five days before departure, I received pawsibly the most helpful email to date I have ever received in regards to traveling with my dog. It was a checklist of things to consider from Delta, but the MOST unique and helpful part was the link to a website to determine the exact footprint of the seats and under the seat space for the pet carrier. GENIUS! I have a carrier that pushes the limits its fair to say, but it can adjust and become slightly smaller when the bottom hard shelf is taken out and works on all the planes I've had it on.

Checking in

My first flight was Burlington, Vermont to JFK in NYC. The airport was tiny so there was no 'special services' area to pay for my pet. I was able to pay for him at the counter upon check-in which was $95. We received a green tag we put on the carrier and that was it. We went through security easily and there was a great open pet relief area in the hallway connecting the two parts of the tiny terminal. It smelled fine so I assumed it was cleaned and serviced regularly.

Animal relief area between the north and south terminals in BVT

The check-in for my international flight was only slightly different. Even at a bigger airport like JFK I was still able to pay for my pet at sky priority check-in. Upon checking in, the agent had a screen that prompted him the pieces of paperwork to check for entry to Bermuda: Valid import permit, rabies vaccines, letter or certificate of good health that includes an application of government approved flea and tick medication given by the vet who did the health check. I paid $200 for the international pet fee, we got a green tag for his carrier and away we went to the security line.

In flight

From BVT to JFK, we were in Delta Comfort + and our set 5A was at the front. It wasn't an exit row so we were allowed, but if we were in 5B we would have been in trouble as there's no seat in front of it for a pet carrier.

The flight attendant did look at the carrier, which given the positioning was best to be upright but it didn't block any exits or my own exit if there was an emergency so they permitted it.

My leg space and Peru's carrier on our flight to JFK

Again from JFK to BDA we were in Delta Comfort + which is the only comfortable way to travel with a size large snoozer carrier that I use. Had no issues getting on the flight or in flight and Peru even got his first set of pilots wings!

Overall takeaway - that was easy!

1. Being able to add a pet via a chat app is easy and relatively painless.

2. Where you sit on the size plane you're on may impact your carrier and both your and your dog's safety. Flight attendants have the final say in keeping every one and every pup safe. Use the measurements provided and book the class of seat and position on the plane that suits your dog best.

3. Delta is clear about their pet policies, there were no surprises.

4. It's one of the more expensive carriers to fly on with a pet, but you get what you pay for.

I've always been the happiest flying on Delta with my dog, and at times have gone out of my way to use them as an airline carrier because of their consistency with service and understanding their in-cabin animal policies. But flying with a service dog is different. I'm happy to repawt I am just as pawsitive about flying with them with in-cabin pets as well.

As a disclaimer, I have never received any compensation or in-kind equivalent from Delta over the years. I just think they're pawesome.

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