Friday, June 29, 2012

My First Moving Rant

Well, maybe this isn't my first moving rant.  Ben says my first moving rant was along the lines of, "What the %#$*& do you mean our orders have been changed to Illinois?!?!?"

But this is a bigger rant against a big company and I usually don't do this, but darn it, it has to be said.

When we moved to Hawaii, getting the dogs here was our biggest stress.  Dogs can not be flown when the temperature is too high or too low because they are shipped as cargo in the hold where the pressure and the temperature are not regulated the way they are in the passenger cabin.  I was paranoid that we would get to the airport and they would tell us that it was too cold to board the dogs.  As it was, we were only a few degrees away from being told no.  There was still snow on the ground when we left Kansas although the temperature in Hawaii was fabulous.

So in moving from Hawaii, we knew we might have to ship the dogs in April or May in order to get them off the island while the temperature was good.  While it normally doesn't get hot here, you also have to take your destination into consideration and Georgia in July is well above the temperature limit of 85 degrees.

Imagine my delight then to discover that Delta now has temperature controlled, pressure controlled compartments for pet travel in the summer.  I was thrilled, but I knew that Rigger's size could still be an issue.  Not everyone can handle a 160 pound dog.  So I called on March 15th to inquire about the specifics.  I talked to a lovely woman who assured me that yes, they would fly an English Mastiff, even if he was 160 pounds.  She advised me that we would need to get a health certificate from the vet within 10 days of flying, asked me for the dimensions of both kennels, and covered all the basics with me.  I remember telling Kerry, "That is such a load off my mind!  Transporting the dogs was my biggest stress with this move!"

Now, I am also not an idiot.  I've dealt with customer service enough times (and worked in CS enough times) to know that you might be speaking with someone who really has no idea what they are talking about.  So I called again on April 16th and was advised again that there would be no problem shipping a 160 pound English Mastiff in July.  I was informed on this occasion that there actually is not a weight restriction.  Yay!

Then I called again on April 23rd to triple check.  I spoke with Jo, a lovely woman who was very friendly and helpful who took all the info on both dogs - English Mastiff, 160 pounds, no problem.  Yay, again!

I called again in early May.  May 15th is the last day to ship them before the summer temperature rules go into effect and it would be our last chance to send the dogs early.  I neglected to note what day I called or who I spoke with because I was fairly confident at this point that I had the correct info.  Again, all systems were go.

When we got our first set of orders, we were scheduled to fly out in early July.  Kerry called this time to make the reservations for the dogs.  They checked the date we were scheduled to fly, assured us that there was still room on the flight for the dogs, got the measurements of both kennels, and laughingly told Kerry that Rigger's kennel just barely made the cut.  Three inches larger, and he couldn't have gone.  The gentleman was very friendly and helpful.  He told us it would be around $200 per dog.  That's less than what we paid to get them here, so we were happy.

Then our orders got changed.  And we had to cancel our plane tickets and the dogs plane tickets.  When we finally got our tickets a few days ago, we were scheduled to fly in late July.  We specifically requested that we fly with Delta so that we would be on the same flight as the dogs.  Yesterday, Kerry called to make the reservations for the dogs.  Again, no problem for an English Mastiff or a smaller mix breed dog, the kennel dimensions were fine, but Kerry was given a price of $2,109.70.  WHAT?!?!?!?  He told the customer service rep that he would have to think about that and would call back.

I was livid.  "If we had known that the price was going to increase that much, we could have shipped them back in May!  In the five freakin' phone calls we've made to them, not one person could mention that the price would be significantly higher?!?!  What are they doing, waiting until you have no other option but to cough up the money or abandon your pets?"  I said a lot of things along those lines, including the fact that just three weeks earlier the quoted price had been much lower.

I decided to call again and see if I could find out what was going on.  Maybe we could get a military rate, maybe the representative Kerry had spoken with was off her meds, who knows what could have happened.  So I called and spoke with Alex who as soon as I spoke the words "English Mastiff" promptly informed me that they can't fly an English Mastiff anyway if the temperature is over 75 degrees at either the origination or departure points.  Again, WHAT?!?!?!?  I informed him that this was my sixth phone call and not one person had said that there was an issue with his breed.  Alex told me it's listed on their web site that snub-nosed breeds can not fly if the temperature is over 75 degrees.  Really?  So I could have sent my dogs in April or May but since I was assured repeatedly that there was no issue with an English Mastiff flying in the summer I was now between a rock and a hard place as far as getting them off the island.  It's not like we can just decide to not move until fall.  I can see us telling the Army that we need to back up Kerry's report date because of our dogs.

(And to be fair, yes their web site does list Mastiffs as being a snub nosed breed, but when you look at the list to find English Mastiff, you see only "English Bulldog" and "English Toy Spaniel" which immediately makes you think "Oh, good.  English Mastiff is not on the list."  But when you look under "M" you see "Mastiff (all breeds)".  I can only assume their employees made the same mistake I did and looked under "E".   But if their own trained employees don't know the rules, they certainly can't expect me to know it. Plus, their website doesn't even have the current info about summer flights and temperature controlled compartments and bizarrely it says they don't accept snub nosed breeds at all as of December 2011 although Alex said the current rule is temperature based, so how do I know what to believe anyway?  Are your employees right, is the web site right, am I right?  I am right.  I know I am.)

Anyway, after this frustrating experience, we had the transportation office switch us to a different airline which was far more helpful and made reservations for our dogs and charged us less than half what Delta wanted.

Do you hear that, Delta?  You lost our business.  We have a choice about which airline to use and we will not use you again.  And we will tell everyone we can about this experience.  And by the way Delta, I still haven't forgotten the time you lost my suitcase when we moved to Alaska.  It never turned up.  We wore the same clothes for three days waiting for it and ended up buying all new clothes and you didn't reimburse me nearly enough to replace everything I lost in that suitcase.  I was finally willing to give you a second chance and you blew it.

As we say in Hawaii, "PAU!"


  1. Update: Just had some friends from Hawaii email us to let us know they are moving off the island and they asked for tips about moving their dog. I told them of our troubles with Delta and advised them to use United/Continental who, by the way, actually charged us LESS than they had quoted us on the phone.

  2. My husband and I are here in Italy, came down on orders a month ago. Our vet gave us false information on what they needed in order to fly. So we had to leave them behind. We are flying back to get them at christmas. We have a bandogge Mastiff, and I am very concerned with getting them here! I was just looking at Delta flights and came across your blog. What airline did you end up using? I need help!

    1. We went with Continental/United. They quoted us a price that was about half what Delta wanted and then when we were checking in, they actually charged us LESS than what they had quoted on the phone!!

    2. What airlines did you end up using for your Bandogge Mastiff? Did you fly him in a regular plastic crate or an aluminium crate (IATA 82)? What time of year did you fly? I am concerned about flying my Italian Mastiff in June with temperatures getting up to 80F... Thanks!

  3. Hi! I am moving from Ohio to St.Kitts this month for school and am really hoping to fly my 2 year old English Mastiff, Sophie, down on my first break in the end of April/beginning of May. The ONLY airline that I can find to ship Mastiffs is Continental/United. How was your experience with them? I, of course, am worried about flying her and just want to make sure that she is safe and will be well taken care of. Thank you so much for any information! -Kayla

    1. We were very happy with Continental/United. My strongest recommendation is to freeze her water bowl full of water so that it will melt throughout the trip and provide her with water and won't slosh out. I forgot to do that on this trip and he was VERY thirsty when we picked him up! Otherwise, it was fine. Make sure you read through all the rules and regulations. We had to have zip ties with us to close his cage securely, and all shots and paperwork. You don't want to show up and be missing something important!

  4. Hello. I know this is years after your post, but I am trying to ship my English Mastiff to Hawaii and running into some difficulties. Where did you find a large enough airline approved crate?

    1. We ordered ours through a pet store. We had to special order it for the size, but it was similar to this one:

  5. Hi, I am looking at shipping my 95lb Italian Mastiff to Japan. I have gotten mixed views on whether it is safe to ship him in June with the weather being at a high of around 80F in both departing and arrival locations. United looks to be the only airline that offers climate controlled baggage/dog hold prior to loading and even climate controlled vehicles to get the dogs to the plane. That being said they are quoting a very high cost for shipping my Mastiff and require that he fly in a special metal IATA 82 compliant crate (another $1k). Apparently certain breed they will not fly in regular rigid plastic crates. Does any one else have experience with this?