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Virgin America: On-line in-cabin pet booking

Virgin America now allows you to add your pet to your on-line reservation, “either during booking or by clicking ‘Anything Else?’ when viewing your itinerary.” That’s rare — of the major U.S. airlines, only Continental has a similar system in place (Northwest used to).

I hope more airlines will follow suit, since it makes all kinds of sense. Otherwise, you have to either make your own reservation on line, and then call quickly to add your dog (gambling that there will be room on the plane for her); or you have to make your entire reservation over the phone, which is time-consuming and may entail a service charge (unless you can convince the service representative to waive the fee, on the grounds that you were forced to call because you’re traveling with a pet).

Here’s what you do: Tell the site when you want to fly, where you want to go, and choose the flights that work best for you. Choose the seats you want. Give Virgin America the contact information and personal data they require. When you reach the “Enter Payment Information” screen, you’ll see a list of extra charges, starting with travel insurance. The second item is “Traveling with a Pet?” Click on the “Expand” button, check the box under each flight segment (indicating that you agree to VA’s rules and fee), and click “Apply Pet.” The pet fees appear in the resulting invoice under “Extras.” I suggest printing the receipt they offer you and adding it to your travel documents, so that you have proof in hand that your pet’s reservation has been made and paid for.

4 comments

  • pet carriers for airplanes

    Well, this sounds nice. At least now we have more options when we want to bring our dogs. It’s so great to know that aside from the usual call we have to do to make a reservation we can do that online as well. It is more convenient I guess since most of us now have access to the internet.

  • Jojo

    Hi! Your website is SO helpful. Louis (also a King Charles) and I will be flying next week on Virgin. He’s a tad larger than other Cavaliers, he’s about 20lbs, and I understand Virgin has a policy that your dog and carrier have to be within 20lbs. I am ordering the Sturdi Large bag as you suggested but that brings the weight up to about 23lbs. I called Virgin today and they said that they weigh your pet and pet carrier during check-in and if it exceeds by even 1 pound, they will not accept my pet. Do you have any experience with this or advice? Thank you!

  • Hi, Jojo — We fly a bit on Virgin America — say, five or six times a year — and to date, haven’t been weighed. We have been weighed, once, by JetBlue, so it does happen, but it’s probably a risk I’d take if I were you. I would not volunteer any info about his weight. I would, as calmly as possible, mention during the luggage weighing and tagging process that you have an in-cabin dog with you that you’ve already paid for (or need to pay for — can’t remember offhand if VA pays at the desk or ahead of time). I’d keep his carrier on the ground and out of sight as much as possible. If you’re asked to bring the carrier forward so it can be tagged, I’d do it matter-of-factly, again saying nothing about his weight (and in fact trying to make lifting him seem as easy as possible). The more of an impression you can convey that you do this all the time, and he and his carrier are totally fine, and this is all just routine, the better. If the worst happens, and they weigh him, consider crying. You’ll want to anyway. Say you’re just so sorry, and you’ll totally do the right thing the next time, etc., and see if that gets you through. And next time, you might want to try another airline that doesn’t have an upper weight limit — there are a bunch of them — check the handy Dog Jaunt guide to US airline policies. Fingers crossed for you!

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