Author Topic: Preparing for my ESA's first flight  (Read 460 times)

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Offline Cdhoover

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Preparing for my ESA's first flight
« on: July 09, 2017, 08:43:01 AM »
Hi everyone-

I'm new to the forum and have learned so much from reading through many posts. Thanks so much for this helpful community!

A little bit about me: I'm an American from Washington state who is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Senegal. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. The adoption of a local dog here in Senegal has helped my symptoms immeasurably, and my therapist agreed to have him certified as an ESA to simplify the process of bringing him home, as I will undoubtedly require his assistance during that often difficult transition.

I'm heading home in early November and have booked a flight through Delta. We fly first to JFK and then to SEATAC. The woman on the phone was very helpful and laid out all of their requirements (which we meet) very clearly. The airline knows that I will be traveling with an ESA and even helped me to choose the seats that would likely help us to be the most comfortable.

I have heard from expats who travel often with animals that the Delta employees at the Dakar airport in particular are less than accommodating when it comes to animals in the cabin. This is not entirely surprising considering the general Senegalese attitude toward dogs is quite negative. I've got a printed copy of my prescription as well as a printed copy of the PDF outlining Delta's policy for accommodating ESAs. I'm planning on documenting and printing out any email correspondence I might have with Delta before then, also. I'm planning on going in the day before to meet with a Delta employee and explain my situation in the hopes of avoiding a last minute conflict. Any advice on further preparing myself for pushback from the gate attendant, should that happen?

My ESA is a 30 lb mixed breed who is naturally calm, nonreactive and well trained. He is comfortable riding at my feet for 5-6 hours in cramped public transport (here in Senegal that means a station wagon filled with up to nine people) over bumpy dirt roads. He has been exposed to high-stress situations such as parades, city traffic, etc, and he accompanies me to work every day. Beyond the above listed things, I'm not sure how better to prepare him for flight. Does takeoff/landing affect their ear pressure the way it does ours, and does anyone have suggestions on how to prepare him for that? Is it common for dogs to want to vomit on airplanes? (He will of course have an empty belly). I'm not necessarily worried about his behavior, I'd just like for us both to be as comfortable and prepared as possible.

Any advice/ experience you might have in flying with your ESA is greatly appreciated, thank you all!

Offline polarmouse

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Re: Preparing for my ESA's first flight
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2017, 01:05:50 PM »
Hi,

I'm not an expert,  :biggrin:, but I have flown with my dog Zoee. At the time she was "just a dog" so we had her in a kennel under our seat. I took along a bit of kibble, she hadn't eaten breakfast, and gave her a few pieces as until we reached cruising altitude. She didn't seem bothered by it. She didn't get sick, which at the time I was kinda surprised as she would get car sick, so that wasn't a problem. I'd just be sure to bring some handi wipes. I also brought a chew toy, and the usual dog stuff. Since Zoee was in a kennel it wasn't an issue, but the floor was very warm so I'd suggest a blanket or mat.

My sister was in the Peace Corp in the Ukraine a few years back.

Have a safe trip!

Offline Cdhoover

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Re: Preparing for my ESA's first flight
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 01:46:10 PM »
Thanks for your response and well wishes! Glad to hear Zoee didn't get sick, and kibble for takeoff is a great idea. Noted, thanks so much!

Offline Ariel

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Re: Preparing for my ESA's first flight
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2017, 02:54:54 PM »
Hey there! Welcome to SDC!

My dad was in the Peace Corps in Togo many years back. He had a lot of fun and really enjoyed himself short of very nearly dying of Dengue Fever. Otherwise great though, as he says. What are the import requirements for getting a dog from Senegal into the US? Is there any quarantine period? Will the airline out of Senegal even recognize your dog as an ESA given that it's not a US state or territory? Does Senegal the country recognize ESAs? Some countries will not fly owner-trained service dogs much less untrained ESAs. Delta in the past few weeks had a PR nightmare with the ESA belonging to a passenger mauling the face of another passenger. Being 30 lbs your dog will not be able to crunch in an airline carrier to fit under the seat. Even if she could, that would be a duration of flight that would be potentially dangerous to her being crunched. If you don't already have the answers to those questions I'd look into them and potentially make back up plans to fly your dog in cargo.
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Offline Cdhoover

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Re: Preparing for my ESA's first flight
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2017, 07:23:48 PM »
Hi! These are all great questions, many of which I have already looked into. The import process for dogs from the US to Senegal is fairly simple, they just need a wellness check and to be current on rabies and screw worm free. As far as Senegal recognizing ESAs, even trained service dogs are not common so I think that's where the tension with Senegalese employees comes from. But the Delta representative I spoke to assured me that each flight would be able to accommodate my dog and I so long as our paperwork was in order. As far as I know they have not changed their policies in response to what sounds like a horrible incident.

Delta outlines their ESA policy in a PDF which lists countries/states with exceptions, and Senegal isn't one of them. So it sounds like their policies are on my side, just hoping not to have too much trouble boarding the first flight.

That's great that your Dad served, I'm sure Peace Corps is much easier now than when he went through! Bet he has some great stories though. Thanks for your guidance!!

Offline ccunnin3

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Re: Preparing for my ESA's first flight
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2017, 10:09:31 PM »
Those are long flights. Make sure you have appropriate bathroom plans for your dog. They will likely require restricting food and water as well as a break during your layover.
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