Thursday, January 28, 2016

Airlines WANT You to Fake a Service Dog!

In early January, I attempted to book a flight on American from Phoenix to Reno for an agility seminar.  V is too large to be an in-cabin pet, so I need to check a dog.  American has direct flights, so MAJOR score, right?


American inherited USAirways crappy Airbus fleet, and this fleets does not have temperature control.  There are some configurations/variation of Airbus for which this is true.  It appears that American has some Airbus fleet that are pet-friendly.

When you research flights, you only get "A321", and not the "S" or "H".  So... you're supposed to call reservations?

Seeing as how USAirways was headquartered in Phoenix, the majority of the fleet are these crappy Airbus.  Thus, with Delta and United only accepting pets as cargo, Southwest only accepts in-cabin pets, and American not having appropriate aircraft... honest folk are stuck driving or hoping that a smaller airline accepts checked pets. Or, you can do what is popular among the agility crowd...


When I flew Bug to USDAA Nationals for several years, I witnessed it all at the airport.  "Service" dogs panting and freaking out.  A competitor fighting with Southwest Airlines over her TWO "service" dogs.  "Service" dogs playing in the terminal.  "Service" dogs wandering around at baggage claim.  Other travelers at the airport in disbelief over the number of black-and-white service dogs in the airport.  There must be a service dog convention!

With Delta no longer offering checked pets, that leaves American as the last major airline accepting checked pets.  However... they have an Airbus issue.

I wrote American when I was attempting to book a flight, and asked why they weren't upgrading the USAirways fleet.

They took 21 days to respond with a copy-and-paste from their website.  Thanks!  Shockingly, I do know how to read.

Here's my response:

You didn't answer my question about the aircraft. By not retrofitting the USair fleet, you are encouraging fake service dogs.

Thanks for the "copy and paste" response from information I found verbatim on your website.

When I was researching flights to Reno, I couldn't tell WHAT Airbus variation was used. Just A321. That doesn't help someone flying with a checked pet.

So you lost my business to Alaska Airlines.
 Okay, wow, I got a quick response to that.  Not sure why all of a sudden American is interested in my business after taking 21 days to initially respond.
Thank you for contacting us again and giving us another opportunity to take a look at this situation.
As you mentioned, our USAir Airbus fleet is not pressurized for checked pets. For the safety of pets, we do not allow customers to check pets on these flights.
As a pet owner, I certainly understand your frustration and apologize for the inconvenience this is causing you and others when trying to travel with your pet.
Our Reservations team will be happy to assist you with any additional information. They can be reached at 800-433-7300 and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Be sure to have your flight details ready when you call. Calling from outside the United States or Canada? Click here for contact information.
If you have questions or concerns after your trip is completed, we'd be happy to hear from you in Customer Relations.
We appreciate your business and look forward to welcoming you onboard.

Actually, when you call reservations to make your reservation, you pay hefty fees for talking to someone.  They also cannot identify which Airbus variation it is.  Just ask someone who flew to AKC/Eukanuba in December with his German Pinscher.  He called, told his flights were friendly, and then American re-booked him on an earlier, friendly flight WITHOUT TELLING HIM.  So sure, that phone call will go over real well...
I talked to someone last night who had issues getting from Phoenix to Orlando despite calling customer service. Almost every flight was airbus, just like the flights I looked at from Phoenix to Reno or Sacramento. I could get one way on appropriate aircraft, but not both ways, or had to change planes in LAX and still not get to Reno. 
You need to do something about the airbus. Period. 
I'll buy a service dog vest for my dog in the future since it's impossible to get a checked dog out of Phoenix. No Delta. No United. No Southwest. No American. No choices. 
I booked a most inconvenient flight on Alaska because that was my only option. In order to go east. .. I'll be stuck driving or joining the masses faking a service dog since airlines encourage this behavior. By not upgrading the airbus, this loss of revenue must be American's business strategy. You'd rather let me fly a large dog in cabin for free than provide appropriate aircraft in Phoenix.
 I bet you are not surprised that American did not respond.