Well it’s time for me to leave Korea. It’s been a great 3 years but I have got to get out of here. I’ve paid down my bills quite a lot. I’m nowhere near done but I’ve taken them down a great 1/3rd at least, paying $1000 or more each month towards them. I’ve traveled around. I’m pretty much done with Korea. Time to take my bird and head to Japan. I just booked my plane ticket to go straight to Narita in a few months. No problems getting the bird there at all.
Oh who am I kidding? IT HAS BEEN HELL. I’m still not done arranging all the details and paperwork, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about researching plane flights alone.
Airlines – you really do have terrible pet policies that end up harming pets more than they help anyone. I’m not sure what the problem is, but EVERY AIRLINE except TWO has such restrictive bull on pet birds traveling that it has become impossible to do unless you use one of the two options! And one option isn’t the cheapest by any means. So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty here and explain.
My intention is to fly to these places, in as straight and cheap way as possible. Seoul Incheon (ICN) to St. Louis MO (STL). Then, a month later, from STL to Tokyo Narita (NRT). Why not go straight from ICN to NRT and why the month long wait? Bird import laws of Japan. I won’t go into more detail than that till later. For now, let’s just focus on the Airlines.
What airlines service this basic route, within the SAME company? Not many. St. Louis is a smaller airport. International yes, but routes more towards the South American cities. Southwest Airlines is based there in large part. So, basically, my options are American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta. Those are pretty much the only ones that fly (same company) to Seoul and St. Louis. And yes, all three allow pets in some way! However, household birds are small and I don’t trust cargo at all. I’ve heard horror stories about frozen pets when the heating didn’t work. Also, there are restrictions for when the bird can fly in cargo, winter and summer are generally out. I’m flying in winter. So, in-cabin is the ONLY way I can go home with my bird.
American Airlines Domestic/International pet policy – Cats and dogs only, and only some of them in cabin. WHY? Are birds toxic to AA people?
Delta Domestic pet policy – Dogs, cats, and birds allowed in cabin (as long as their crate will fit under the seat. Yay! International in-cabin okay? ::buzzer:: Sorry, only small dogs and cats. What. the. hell.
United Airlines – We have a winner! It’s allowed, birds in cabin, international and domestic. And the cost is the cheapest! ($125 each way)
So, how did I get my bird here? Asiana. That airline is wonderful, but expensive. They allow birds in cabin. Fee is $200 each way. Ticket cost? $1800. That’s just for me flying from Seoul to Chicago, the only route serviced. Then add $200 each way for the bird. That’s…$2200. YIKES. I do have to say though, Asiana was EXTRAORDINARILY wonderful with me and my bird. They even allowed her out to fly around a bit in the “back room”! The hostesses had a great time taking pics with my bird on their shoulders. I’d recommend them any day, save for their high prices.
Japan airlines? NOPE. No pets in cabin at all.
Korean airlines? Doesn’t fly to the USA at all.
Other airlines? Not even gonna try routing through Hong Kong or whatever, who knows what bird paperwork problems that will cause.
I’m frustrated, my cell phone bill this month will be out of this world since I’ve had to call America so many times (I don’t use skype phone. I can’t use daesung skype.) (Edit: Not as bad as I thought it would be and I discovered an awesome app – Magicjack app – lets me call the usa free. Wish I had discovered it a day or two before.)
Still, what is the big damned problem about allowing birds in cabin? They are under the seat, covered, and probably sleeping the whole flight like mine was when I came here! She didn’t suffer at all! In fact she was just annoyed being in such a small crate the whole time! Pets do better being closer to their people anyway. Some people may have allergies but again, my bird has a thick, warm cover on her crate. Bird dander is just not really a factor at all and it wouldn’t be enough to set off a huge attack – and if someone has that big of an allergy to animals, well they know animals are on flights and probably have an epi-pen with them. Even more, a person can alert the carrier to let them know and then they will let animal carriers know to rebook another flight. It’s so rare it’s not even a factor for so many problems.
There is just no good reason for the restrictions, airlines. Give me one damned good reason, seriously.
United Airlines, I just need to say this. I don’t give a shit how good your service is, meals, niceness of employees, I don’t care. The fact that you allow birds in cabin for a hell of a good price – $1080 – has made me a customer for life. I signed up with MileagePlus as well. Don’t ever change your pet in-cabin policy.