Alaska Airlines vs Avianca Pets As Checked Luggage In Cargo
Meet beautiful Lily!! We were privileged at PRI to chaperone Lily from the US to Ecuador. Lily is a rescue dog all the way from Thailand. She is a very nervous dog and suffers from anxiety, ensuring Lilly had the best travel experience was our top priority.
Lily travelled on both Alaska Airlines and Avianca. The flight Itinerary was complex. We had to take 3 flights with Alaska Airlines an overnight hotel stay to break Lily's journey and then 2 flights with Avianca Airlines. Here is our experience and opinion on both carriers.
Alaska Airlines will transport pets across most of their flight routes. They will accept pet crates up to a 500 series crate (40"x27"x30"). They have certain date embargos and aircraft embargos. You can check out what these are on their website pet page https://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/policies/pets-traveling-with-pets
To make a pet reservation with Alaska, you must firstly make a passenger flight booking. You then call Alaska Airlines to add your pet to the booking. The cost to add your pet is $100. Alaska airlines are one of my most favourite airlines to call. They have bounced back well from the pandemic, the call wait times are short and the staff are incredibly knowledgeable, attentive and friendly on the phone. The process to add Lily to the flight booking took no longer than 5 minutes. Payment was required at the check in desk on the day of the flight.
We arrived at the airport with Lily and checked her in at the Alaska desk. The agent was diligent in reviewing all the required paperwork for travel. The crate was weighed as was Lily. The check in process including payment was seamless and took a maximum of 15 minutes. The agent was incredibly helpful and kind and allowed us to keep hold of Lily until an hour before flight departure.This meant Lily was able to stay out of her crate and have extra exercise and cuddle time, which helped hugly to manage her anxieties.
Lily had special detachable stickers that were placed on her crate. These were taken off on each leg of the flights before departure and handed to us whilst seated on the aircraft, This meant we knew Lily had been loaded onto the plane and was ready to fly with us. This is such a great system as you know your pet has made it onto the aircraft.
We had a 4 hour layover on one of the flights legs, If the layover is over 3 hours Alaska airlines ask for you to collect your dog and hold them until the next flight. Lily was ready for collection at the oversize luggage area within 20 minutes of the flight landing. PRI were able to walk, feed and water Lily before her last leg of the journey on Alaska.
Lily arrived safely at our midpoint destination happy and healthy.
Avianca Airlines will transport pets as cargo up to a 700 series crate 48″x 32″x 35″ however they do have weight limit and maximum flight time restrictions which can be found on the website pet page https://help.avianca.com/hc/en-us/articles/4402526159643-How-do-I-fly-with-my-pet-in-the-hold- The cost to add a pet also differs depending on location, you can find the fees on the same weblink.
Avianca require a passenger flight reservation before adding the pet to the booking. You must call the airline to add the pet. Avianca reservation center are horrendous. The wait time for an agent is usually around 10 minutes, but the time it takes to add a pet can take upto an hour!!! The reservations also outsource their customer service to other companies around the world. The first agent I spoke with tried to charge me $580 to add Lily when I knew the actual cost was only $220. The second agent I spoke with kept me on hold for over half an hour whilst attempting to add Lily to the reservation and then the line went dead and the call was terminated. The third phone call resulted in an agent adding Lily but the online payment system would not accept my card payments. I tried three different credit cards all with ample funds in them and non were accepted. An email link was then sent and payment made.
I arrived to the Avianca check in desk to be told by a very grumpy member of staff that there was no pet reservation on my booking and no payment had been made for the dog. Luckily I had ample time before flight departure to check in Lily. The check in staff added her to the flight booking and the process took around 45 minutes. The staff were diligent in checking all of Lily's documents but there was nothing pleasant about the check in process whatsoever. They were abrupt and negative throughout the whole process.
Lily was taken away immediately after check in. I did not hear from the cabin staff to advise if she had been loaded onto the aircraft. I made sure to make them aware that there was a dog on board and to advise the pilot to make sure the temperature was controlled for pet travel.
Lily did arrive safely in Ecuador with a stop over in Colombia and she had been well taken care of throughout her journey on Avianca.
Our experience with Alaska Airlines was by far a more professional and positive experience in comparison to Avianca Airlines. As far as communication goes, Alaska were outstanding, As far as safety of transporting Lily, both Alaska airlines and Avianca do have a very good reputation when it comes to pet safety and Lily arrived happy and calm after travelling on both airlines.