So you may be wondering when the hell I am getting my plane ticket. Well, I have already done that. In fact, I did it while in Baltimore and getting ready for Wendy’s wedding.
I actually started a good while back. My goal was to have my ticket before I got started with this trip with Thorsten. If I waited too long, then the flights would only get more expensive and there would not be a guarantee that I could get Abner on board.
I started out trying to go to the easy route: I tried using my dad’s flyer miles through the airline he uses to fly to the Philippines: Cathay Pacific. My company is only compensating so much for my move (about 1/3 of what they gave me to move from Bloomington to Chicago) so I literally need all the help I can get. The lady on the other line was very kind and very patient but seemed very hesitant about getting me a flight to Frankfurt and using the miles. After some serious persuading, she managed to get me a flight. The big problem was that Abner had to be cargo. I almost started to cry but a free ticket is really hard to pass up……until I saw the route.
I understood then why she was so hesitant.
They would get me to Frankfurt…..but I would have to have a connecting flight at their hub…..in Hong Kong. That was a big fat no to me. It’s about 15 hours from Chicago to Hong Kong and about another from Hong Kong to Frankfurt. Abner would also be dead; there’s no sugar coating that.
So Cathay Pacific was off the table.
My only two other options were Lufthansa and United. Why? They did direct flights from Chicago to Germany. They also have good reputations with flying with pets.
First I tried Lufthansa. I flew with them on my last trip to Germany and I liked them a lot. They are on the more expensive end of airlines but after flying others I would say you definitely get what you pay for. I called them while I was en route to Baltimore.
When flying with a pet, the best thing to do is to just call the airline and talk with someone directly, it makes it easier for both parties and questions can be answered quickly.
Another thing I learned: always buy round trip tickets. For both Lufthansa and United, a round trip ticket costs about half the price as a one-way to the same destination. Also, you have a guaranteed return flight home. That’s right, folks, I will be using that ticket to come home – can’t waste the ticket!
Anyway, I called Lufthansa and I could get the flight I wanted, roundtrip, dog included for a decent price. But there was a catch: Lufthansa has a very strict weight limit for in-cabin pets: 8kg (which translates to about 17.637lbs). Abner weighs quite a bit more than that…..about 23 pounds. So he would have to go into cargo.
Lufthansa does take comfort very seriously. They have a special cargo hold for pets that is climate controlled. So even if he had to go into cargo, he would not be suffering.
I was still not a fan.
So I tried United. They are actually partners with Lufthansa so the price was the same and I still got the dates I wanted AND they actually do not have a weight limit for in-cabin pets. Yay! All they care about is that the crate can fit under the seat (and that the dog can stand and turn around while inside). Great! I had done my research! I know for a fact that mine fits!
They did ask about the weight……I told them he was about 20 lbs. The woman grew a little concerned because she felt he was a little too heavy. I told her that I had done my research and that plenty of people have been able to take their pugs on flights (again, I did my research). I purposefully picked out the crate because it has been used often by successful travelers and I know that my pug will be fine (again, research!) Also I reiterated that United doesn’t have a weight limit (not even for normal carry-on) so that shouldn’t be used against me.
So there you have it! Abner and I have round trip tickets to and from Germany! It’s a huge load off my chest knowing that we will be able to travel together.
So now we just need to keep practicing with the crate!