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The PadsPass Prototype: How it worked on the furst try!

Updated: May 20



Starting with a five day process called a Design Sprint, myself and five suppawters of pet travel began building the first PadsPass prototype in early February. Within a month, I had the basics of that prototype built out and tested it on a trip with my dog Peru from Bermuda departing on Monday March 4th and returning on Friday March 8th.


This is the story of how it was to travel for the first time with a small pet in-cabin using the prototype. 


We’ll begin at the beginning, the part that should be the easiest part, departing from Bermuda. While the prototype doesn’t streamline everything YET, it offers the user segments or as I refer to them as ‘streams’ of that future streamline  to complete to have stress-free pet travel beginning with ensuring your flight is on time. 


The Miami flight leaves Bermuda quite early in the morning, so it’s easy to forget before running out the door from far flung Somerset to check the flight time. Using the prototype and following the order of the streams, it had me check my flight before I went to bed. Checking a flight prior to departure is nothing innovative, but even as a seasoned traveler I must admit it is not something I religiously do prior to departing for the airport before every flight. Being reminded to do so as a step in the PadsPass process, I actually got a notification through the American Airlines app that my flight already had a known delay due to the aircraft not being able to arrive that evening. A little extra sleep for both of us would be a real treat! Although I couldn't say that word too loudly for listening cavalier ears. 


Peru, my canine flying companion, and I woke up the next morning.


In preparation to disembark our home (couldn’t resist a dog pun there), I used the quick PadsPass checklist to ensure we had everything we needed for my flight with Peru, including both human and dog essentials. I realized while creating this prototype so much error can happen if just the human has an issue, completely unrelated to the dog. For example, it's quite easy for a human to forget their driver’s license or find out that their passport is expired! 


We left with enough time to arrive at the airport with a comfortable amount of time in case of any delays on the road as suggested by the app, and well before baggage drop deadline as I needed to check in and pay the pet fee. The check in agent suggested I take him over to relieve himself in the grassy area across from the departure entrance. It was not a designated animal relief area, so while it has grass and a garbage bin it doesn’t allow for a dog to also release its energy by running around without a fenced in area. Having airport maps with fenced in and marked relief areas is a huge asset when traveling and naturally less stressful.  


After Peru was nice and empty, I switched over his leash to a slip leash and de-robed him of his collar and harness before going through security. Another nice reminder from the PadsPass app! Having flown with him three times before, I knew there was a chance he could be grumpy during this part. If he was going to be grumpy, it was going to be with me outside and not in line with a bunch of side eyed passengers staring. 


Maybe it was the delayed and more humane departure time, but he was absolutely fine and went through security like a pro.




I took him aside, gave him a quick cuddle, put all of his accessories back on him, closed his carrier back up and went through pre-clearance. No issues with having my dog with me, they did not require any further paperwork and went straight up to the departures lounge and then boarding. With no further delays we took off and touched down in Miami. 


The next morning, not even being in the country for 24 hours I had to go to the vet for Peru’s health certificate to apply for his Bermuda import permit. The vet and I had spoken on the phone the week prior to go over what was exactly needed from the appointment. They were concerned they don’t do ‘health certificates’ and I explained it was more of a letter and less of a certificate. I also tried to ease their hesitation with the knowledge that I would be using the PadsPass prototype with them to include the information required. They agreed to do it if I agreed to the risk that they had never done this before and a Bermuda import permit may not be accepted. That is how we left things the week prior. 


I had no idea what was about to happen when I arrived at the vet.


We arrived at the appointment and they were very excited to meet Peru. Sadly, I was less excited when they announced they had already prepared their own health letter. My excitement immediately sank. I suppose this wasn’t going to be the trip that I got to test my prototype on. Heavy sigh. We went through the rest of the pleasantries of the appointment, Peru eating the Bravecto like a good boy while I closely reviewed their letter. 


Even with all my experience working with vets on import paperwork, I nearly missed the fact that the microchip number wasn’t included in the letter. 


I also wanted to comment that scribbling in ink ‘gave bravecto’ didn’t have much medical language to it but I didn't want to offend them. Afterall, I needed them to complete this letter.

By the time I paid and the exam appointment was completed, it took less than 30 minutes. 

I paid the $120 and used the PadsPass prototype to quickly fill out the import permit application. I then clicked the email link in PadsPass to email the import permit along with Peru’s original rabies certificates and a photo of the health letter to Animal Husbandry all in less than an hour. 


By 11am, only an hour into holiday mode, an email pinged on my phone from Bermuda Animal Husbandry that Peru’s import permit was denied. 


Not only was the lack of medical language around how the Bravecto was administered an issue, the letter entirely missed the examination date. The email was clear, no changes or adjustments to this letter would be acceptable. An entirely new veterinary health certificate letter would be needed in order to reapply for the import permit. 


I was so excited again.


Thankfully, we hadn’t driven far by the time the email came through, and we headed back to the vet to discuss next steps. I asked if this time they’d be willing to use my PadsPass prototype to draft a new veterinary certificate of health letter, and they agreed. This was the opportunity that I had hoped for, to be able to test the PadsPass prototype in real time and on the back of having an unsuccessful application nonetheless! 





In less than 5 minutes the Veterinarian filled out the required information in the PadsPass prototype and a new letter was generated. 


This time though it was in a format similar to those used in health certificates that had been accepted by Bermuda Animal Husbandry in the past. With the letter printed off and an ink signature signed, I snapped a photo of it and sent it off to Animal Husbandry secretly pleased we had failed the first time and anxious for what would happen next. Afterall, we still had to get back to Bermuda.


By the standards of the prototype, our trip was considered to have moderate risk with only 2 business days to have the veterinary exam and submit the import permit for Peru and I to come back to Bermuda on the flight we had booked for Friday. The next day would be my dad’s 70th birthday, so that wasn’t going to be a day driving around finding another vet to make an appointment with. 


The sixth turned out to be a day of multiple celebrations. I got the import permit approval in my inbox and was able to enjoy the rest of our pawliday until we flew back to Bermuda two days later.





Read more about my experience flying with American Airlines with a pet in cabin in my next article coming soon.

 

We arrived back in Bermuda, cleared immigration with our declarations card and import permit to wait for our checked luggage. A customs officer approached and asked for the import permit to which I proudly presented it. She was satisfied with the permit, less satisfied with Peru’s high-pitched barks so they allowed us to quickly exit the airport throughthe green lane and we made our way to the car in long term parking.


Several treats later and the wind blowing his ears back, Peru and I rode back home having a first successful test of the PadsPass prototype. We’re already working on revising the first prototype to add more destinations to allow future users to try it for their travel, and holding more usability studies before releasing a beta version. 


It’s one small step for humans, one giant leap for pet-kind. 


Want to know more about our usability studies, and the release of the 'PadsPass Grounded' beta version? Sign up for our newsletter, it’s the only place we’ll be sharing this behind the scenes look at the technology and progress of the platform.



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