Author Topic: first time to fly with very large ESA  (Read 334 times)

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Offline Jen1959

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first time to fly with very large ESA
« on: November 14, 2017, 09:24:10 AM »
Hello, it’s been a long time since I️ posted. My beloved SD had to be put down a year ago due to inoperable brain tumor. He was a PSA. I️ have gotten better mentally since except I️ still cannot fly alone. I️ have been working with one of my remaining dogs, a 4year old Great Pyr mix. She has a wonderful temperment, very calm. She doesn’t react to anything. I️ have taken her to pet friendly places, stores, restaurants, etc. I️ am due to fly alone in a couple of weeks and am going to take her as my ESA. I have first class front row booked on both legs( my other PSA was taller but would curl up small but I️ still always had first seat in first class when available)) this gal is very long and wide, and really spreads out.
I️ plan on taking her to the airport a few times to familiarize her with it.
Needless to say, I️ am a tad anxious just because it will be her first time. I️ have all my letters I️ need.
The thing I️ a, most nervous about is that it seems like every time someone sits next to be with such a large dog, they always want to engage me in conversation about my dog, which I️ hate. Is it rude to say I️ prefer not to talk, thank you?

Offline ccunnin3

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2017, 09:44:32 AM »
Is it rude to say "I prefer not to talk right now" or "I'm sorry, I'm trying to read/listen to music/ relax"? Some people will probably take it that way. But I honestly wouldn't worry too much about it. You will likely never encounter that person again in your life. Besides, most people are used to the concept that seatmates on planes just want to be left alone quietly. If it will benefit your mental health not to talk to a stranger on a plane then please don't talk to them.
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Offline Kirsten

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2017, 12:34:32 PM »
I agree it's fine to not wish to be social or to entertain the passenger next to you on a flight.  You can just bluntly say it, that you don't want to chat and that's fine though some may take offense at it.  Alternatively you can arrange to give off signals that say the same thing such as plugging in your ear pods or opening a book and expressing through your actions and focus that this is very important to you.

I'd pack the ear pods and book as a backup plan.  And if the person next to you chooses to be annoyed that you don't want to entertain them, you need to practice letting that go.  They can choose to be annoyed, but you don't have to choose to feel bad about it.  It's not your responsibility to entertain them.  They should have brought a book.

Stray thought:  you might print out one of our "curious about my service dog" type cards to hand them.  We created that one to help with dealing with people who are curious at a time when engaging with them to address their questions isn't going to work for the PWD.  It includes a link to the front end of this site so that anyone who is truly curious about service dogs and not just looking for in flight entertainment can access the information they seek pretty easily and find someone willing to answer their questions.
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Offline SandyStern

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2017, 01:52:52 PM »
I do not like chatting with strangers about my dog (unless said stranger is under the age of :cool:, but I also realize that it would be serious chutzpah to get cranky with people who notice my 82 pound GSD. Kind of like expecting people not to look at your chest if you're wearing a T-shirt with an interesting picture and a caption. And on planes, my dog may intrude a bit into the space of a neighbor, making it doubly important to be extra courteous. I always ask if I can buy them a drink, but you won't need to do that in first-class.

So I smile politely, do not make eye contact, answer briefly, and return to what I was doing.  Speak in a subdued tone, and only answer questions, do not comment or explain. If a person says, "I had a dog just like that as a kid," I smile, nod briefly, and go right back to my book. If he asks what my dog does, I say "he helps me walk."  If you're trapped in a waiting area, you can always grab your phone, and say, "Oh no!" an then start madly typing into it, murmuring "excuse me" to the other person.

For your own peace of mind, I suggest you have your dog professionally groomed 2-3 days before the flight, and take a blanket to put down on the plane. The flight attendants will appreciate your courtesy.

Offline RedSonia29

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 02:13:04 PM »
For your own peace of mind, I suggest you have your dog professionally groomed 2-3 days before the flight, and take a blanket to put down on the plane. The flight attendants will appreciate your courtesy.
Two thumbs up on this recommendation. The flight attendants AND the person next to you will definitely thank you, especially with such a big dog.

Bowie always gets a bath and a groom before our flights (even if I have to give it to him at a hotel) and we always bring his little bath mat for him to lay on. It keeps him focused on what area he is allowed to take up and keeps him warm. Airplane floors can get very cold (not that your Pyrenees will mind the cold).
In loving memory of Clive (CLASS, CGC, Diabetic Alert Dog). You saved my life countless times just by using your heart, nose, and your fat pit bull head. Our time together was too short and I miss you every day. 12/21/11 - 11/19/2016

Bowie's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BowietheDAD/

Offline SandyStern

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 02:29:40 PM »
Why did the numeral eight turn into an emoticon?

Offline OlgatheGSD

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 02:38:34 PM »
Why did the numeral eight turn into an emoticon?

I'm assuming it was next to the parentheses without a space.

Testing :cool:
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Offline Jen1959

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2017, 02:58:41 PM »
As far as the talking to seat mate, it always seems like their curiousity( especially with Roma being 110 lbs) , even tho they don’t come right out and ask, is a way to say”what’s wrong with you” which is what makes me most uncomfortable  I can handle  “beautifu dog” if they leave it at that, which is my cue to put my ear phones in or pick up a book. She is stunning to look at, and has beautiful light green gold eyes.I️ always have my dogs groomed before a flight. However , all my vests are Service Dog vests, since that’s what my last dog was. ESD is self explanatory  ( need to get one)so maybe I️ won’t have to deal with so many questions if she wears that.
Because she spreads out to her full length( almost 6feet) I️ am sure if I️ have a seat mate, she will encroach on their space so I️ feel I️ need to be nice.
 

Offline RedSonia29

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2017, 03:16:12 PM »
Because she spreads out to her full length( almost 6feet) I️ am sure if I️ have a seat mate, she will encroach on their space so I️ feel I️ need to be nice.

I've always been under the impression that neither an ESA nor a SD could encroach on another passengers space. That's asking for trouble, especially if you don't want to talk to your seatmate about the dog. I can understand why your ESA would need to do that given its size, but a premium seat is pricey and your seatmate could be upset with that.

Is there a way to call your airline's disability services number and request that the seat next to you be left empty (unsold)? Explain to them that the dog is quite large (XXX lbs) and may make a seatmate uncomfortable. I know that puts pressure on the airline to "lose" some money, but consider their position. Personally, I'd be pretty upset if I paid for a premium, first class seat and there was a huge dog taking up most of my foot space.
In loving memory of Clive (CLASS, CGC, Diabetic Alert Dog). You saved my life countless times just by using your heart, nose, and your fat pit bull head. Our time together was too short and I miss you every day. 12/21/11 - 11/19/2016

Bowie's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BowietheDAD/

Offline SandyStern

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 03:25:19 PM »
Thanks to Kirsten, I saw the itty bitty section of the comment to the regs under the ACAA that addresses this.  Yes, if necessary, the airline should try to leave an empty seat next to you.  It isn't always possible. That has happened to me.  When the gate agent tells me the flight is full, I indicate that I understand it might be necessary for me to be rebooked, but maybe there's a passenger who won't mind?  In both instances, a nearby person has piped up saying please let me sit next to the dog!  I buy drinks for those people.  But this is why places like the Seeing Eye try to breed the smallest dogs that can do the job.  I understand that with emotional support dogs, sometimes the pet precedes the ESD designation, so the handler can't choose, but from my perspective, smaller is better.

Offline Kirsten

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2017, 03:59:05 PM »
Yes, there are limits to how much your dog is allowed to spread out.  He's supposed to remain inside your own foot space.  If the person next to you agrees to share their foot space, that's fine, of course.  But they did pay for their seat, the same as you paid for yours and your dog shouldn't impinge on their space.

Yes, you can request the airline block the seat next to you so that that seat is sold last.  They will not guarantee an empty seat next to you unless you purchase both seats yourself.  So all it means, if they agree to block it (which they don't have to and don't always agree to do) is that IF that class of service is not sold out you have a decent chance of having an empty seat next to you.  They will not turn away a paying customer to give you extra room unless you pay for the extra seat.

Some reservation systems allow for the blocking of seats, and others do not.  That's why some airlines will do it on request and others will not.  Just be clear on what you are asking for, that "blocking" does not mean no one can sit there, but that they hold that seat until all others are sold before releasing it to be sold as well.  Similarly, if you do not request the seat next to you be blocked, the airline staff may offer to move you to another seat in the same class of service that is next to an empty seat, or offer to move the passenger next to you to an empty seat in the same class of service.

Yeah, stretching out six feet on a commercial aircraft...I don't see that working out.  I'd work hard on training the dog to curl up in small spaces.  I managed with my 85 pound dog in economy and first class is a lot roomier.  I figure I could fit a pyr in first class with adequate training and determination and not impact a person seated next to me if it came down to that.  So that's what I recommend, being prepared for that possibility, asking for the blocked seat if possible, hoping for the best and then dealing with whichever way it goes down in the end.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline Ariel

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2017, 06:47:37 PM »
I've flown cross country to Seattle with two service dog friends. The first time I flew we had an economy row, and in the foot space we fit a 55 lb Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a 55 lb Siberian Husky, and an 80 lb German Shepherd. It was a crunch, but it was doable. With a bit of training it shouldn't be difficult to get a 110 lb dog to fit more or less into a single foot space with minimal spilling over. I can't say it will be the most comfortable curl for a dog of that size, but stretching out isn't really a luxury most service dogs or ESAs have on airplanes unless they are under 20 lbs or so.
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Offline Greymuzzle

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2017, 07:51:54 PM »
 While I've not yet flown with a SD, I do have a problem with constant talkers (grumpy old man syndrome).
 Earbuds were already mentioned but those are a bit too subtle for me.  When I fly I wear a large pair of bright  red headphones that cover the entire ear.  They are pretty hard to miss and drop the background noise level quite well, even without music playing.   
 The best part is that they stop almost all conversation even though half of the time the cord just runs into an empty pocket.    :tongue2:
 
 
Disclaimer: I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.

Offline RedSonia29

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2017, 09:57:02 PM »
Bowie and I were recently on a flight from Lewiston, ID to SLC, UT. There was an empty seat next to me (because I requested one and they had plenty of empty seats/rows on the plane) and an older lady left her husband in the row behind me because she wanted to sit next to me specifically so she could pet Bowie during the flight.

I told her "no, don't pet him. He's working" and she proceeded to lecture me on why she should be able to pet my service dog. I tried to read a book, but have you ever tried to ignore an opinionated grandmother? Yeah....no. It was a very long 1 hour flight.... (and she still tried to sneak in pets.)
In loving memory of Clive (CLASS, CGC, Diabetic Alert Dog). You saved my life countless times just by using your heart, nose, and your fat pit bull head. Our time together was too short and I miss you every day. 12/21/11 - 11/19/2016

Bowie's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BowietheDAD/

Offline SandyStern

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Re: first time to fly with very large ESA
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2017, 07:37:41 AM »
That is a rare instance where I would have asked an attendant to step in.  I would not have complained about the passenger; I would have asked for a change in my seat because this passenger seems unable to comply with my request that she leave my dog alone.

I've been berated for the no-petting rule, and in one instance I figured out that for some people "don't pet" means "he'll bite." A man asked to pet in a restaurant and I said, "thanks for asking, but no, he's working," and the guy said, "well then you shouldn't bring him out in public." I was genuinely puzzled and I asked what he meant.  The response was that if a dog is going to bite people, he shouldn't be in a restaurant.  I was glad to be able to straighten out that misconception.