I would like to take a moment to sing the praises of a wonderful airline company. I know that’s likely shocking because rarely do any of us feel like doing that, but it’s deserved and necessary for me to do so.
Alaska Airlines…we never want to fly anywhere if you aren’t taking us.
My father-in-law came to stay with us recently and he was going to be with us for nearly an entire month, which was too long to have to kennel his dog. We didn’t have anyone willing to watch his dog for that length of time so we convinced him to fly here with his dog. He loves this dog like crazy. So we advised him of the type of crate to buy and he purchased one. He checked his dog in at the ticket counter and after my father-in-law boarded the flight, right before take off, he was brought a card “from the dog” that said “Don’t worry, I’m on board.” Alaska Airlines has a special area next to baggage claim for over sized luggage so the giant crate was wheeled out and we took the dog home. Flash forward three and a half weeks later when my father-in-law is leaving…things didn’t go so smoothly.
My husband helped his dad get the dog checked in and then he leaves and is half way home when he dad calls and asks him to come back. His father got all the way to his gate (which is quite a distance from the ticket counters) and is called to the counter by the gate crew and asked to return to the ticket counter. It turns out the crate won’t fit on the plane and it’s looking like neither the man or his dog is making this flight. There was a lot of back and forth and phone calls: my husband calling me, me calling Alaska and my father-in-law calling my husband. None of us seemed to have all of the information until my husband gets to the airport to talk to figure out the situation.
My husband was initially furious but the Alaska Airlines manager calmed him down and explained everything and apologized and assured him they were going to work it out. The crate my father-in-law purchased was too big. The crew that loaded the crate in Dallas broke the door of the plane but no one reported that information to us because we would have had time to purchase a new crate. It was later explained that it was a contract ground crew there so this wasn’t handled by actual Alaska Airline employees. The crew working the check-in counter in Seattle was also new so when the dog was checked in they didn’t realize the crate was too large. They tried to get a new crate for the dog, they offer a service at the airport that sells pet crates, but they were out of the size he needed. (He’s a very large dog.)
We were assured they were getting the dog and his dad on the flight. So they hatched a plan…the crate was too big to load on the plane with the dog in it but if they removed the dog then they could turn it sideways to get it on the plane and put the dog in it. The only problem is that none of the airline employees are authorized to handle the dog. The manager got a security pass for my husband and they wheeled the dog to the plane. My husband walked to the gate with his dad and then he walked down the stairs from the jet bridge onto the tarmac. The dog’s crate had already been sealed by TSA, something required prior to boarding. So they cut the crate open and my husband got the dog out, they loaded the crate sideways to get it on the plane then turned it upright. My husband got the dog to walk the ramp and jump the gap and walk into his crate. My husband assured his very worried father that the dog was ok and he personally loaded him on the flight and then his dad cried.
We were amazed at all of the trouble this airline went through to get this man and his dog on their flight. It likely would have been easier to just make us reschedule his flight in a few days after the proper size crate was purchased. The airline also refunded the money my father-in-law spent to fly his dog…for all of the trouble he went through. We were speechless.
Thank you Alaska Airlines, thank you to every single one of your employees involved in ensuring that the needs of the single passenger and his pet were met. My family stands thankful and amazed and you’ve made us even more committed to only fly on your airline whenever possible.