When the Fur Flies
Ok, last time we didn’t even get near an airplane. There is plenty of prep you can do to make travel easier for your pet before you ever get to the aircraft. After some fun work with lots of rewards, hopefully you now have a pet who is comfortable around strangers and with the restraint system that is going to keep him or her safe on board. As I mentioned, we work with pets flying in the cabin on private jets, so that is how these tips are written, but you can get some good ideas from these articles. If you have specific questions about commercial air travel or even car travel or camping, shoot me a note and I’ll try to help you out there too!
The first thing to keep in mind the day of your trip is to allow plenty of time so you don’t start rushing around. Getting everything packed up and in the car is stressful enough for your pet, you don’t need to ramp it up with rushing around and getting frustrated when they ask for a little reassurance that their world is ok. The second thing to keep in mind is that everything will take twice as long as you anticipate, so allow a little extra time. When you arrive at the FBO, have a walk-about and let your pet have one last relief break and stretch. We always meet our guests with dogs out on the tarmac. Some dogs get really excited meeting new people and jump around and show excitement in other ways that might damage the fine interior of a private jet. It’s best to have that excitement outside… If you are flying with a less “pet savvy” crew, invite them to meet you outside before entering the aircraft to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Once you enter the aircraft, have a quick look around to make sure there aren’t any bowls of candy or flowers at grazing level for your pet. We always “pet proof” our cabins, including using only cleaning products that are pet-safe, but usually when you enter your private jet there are pre-flight goodies set out for your enjoyment on the credenza (perfect for counter surfing!) along with flowers. It is amazing how fast a dog can zero in on that and make the rest of your flight unpleasant at the very least.
Next it is time to set up a safe place and home for your pet. Most cats like to remain in their carriers and may be strapped into a seat with the existing seat belt assembly. Most dogs prefer to have free reign of the cabin, but for their safety and the safety of the operation this needs some boundaries. We always set up a dog bed near their seat, or you can bring their favorite if you prefer. The harnesses we discussed in our last post attach easily to the seat belt while still allowing them to sit up or lay down at their seat. We also bring a longer tether for smooth in-flight use that allows them to roam a little more, but will prevent them from injury should we hit unexpected turbulence. This also keeps them from taking to heart the phrase “dog is my co-pilot!” The added bonus is that you may now relax without holding a leash or constantly watching to see where your dog might be during the entire flight. Pretty much everybody is happy! Add a favorite (or new and exciting) toy to the bed, and your dog has a comfy place to relax that feels like home.
On our flights we introduce pet parents to a Pet Safety Briefing Card which is just like the one you have seen for humans. It goes over what you are going to do to help your pet in the event of the emergency situations we brief you on at the beginning of each flight. If you are on a flight with a crew that does not cater to animals that way, think ahead about what you will do if any of the situations occur that they brief you on. Think through a plan. You won’t be able to do that suddenly and in a panic, so just give it some thought when there is no emergency. If you ever need to act, you will have a plan and be a much better guardian for your pet. Now you can all settle in knowing you are well prepared and enjoy your flight. We’ll give you tips on just how to do that next time. Until then… enjoy the ride!
Almost every day the phone rings here at Sit ‘n Stay Global and somebody asks a question starting with “what if?” or “why do?” and we try to describe flying from a pet’s point of view. We try to bridge that gap between the laws of physics and the rules and regulations to try to come up with a solution that will make air travel as safe and enjoyable as possible for your pet. For that reason, we draw upon our years of experience of traveling with pets and observing their reactions to different situations to help us figure out what they like and don’t like and what some of their “pet peeves” are, if you will. We want to share some of this information with you to help you better prepare for your next trip with your pet. We travel on private jets with pets, but a lot of these considerations will make sense when flying on a commercial aircraft or even by car.
First things first. Does your pet like to ride in any vehicle? If your pet freaks out in the car, then the car ride to the airport is going to send poor Bowser into a tizzy and it’s doubtful that riding on the plane will be much more enjoyable. Start a few months out and introduce Bowser to the car slowly. Get him the type of harness or crate you plan to use on the plane and go out to the car and just sit in the car in the driveway talking quietly until you can do so calmly. Allow your pet to wear the harness walking around the house. Slowly advance to backing the car out of the drive and then pulling back in. Move on to a drive around the block. Increase the length of trips only as your pet will allow. Reward your pet generously for learning this new skill. By the time you are ready to fly, your pet will be comfortable with his or her restraint system and traveling in a moving vehicle. If you are using a crate, have the crate open where you watch TV with a soft blanket and toy inside so it becomes a safe place to hang out with you when you are all together. Proceed to having your pet travel in the car in the crate which he or she now considers a “safe” place.
Be sure to bring that much loved blanket or toy with you on your trip that is a smell that your pet recognizes in a new environment. We always bring along a portable pet bed as well, and spray it with a relaxing pheromone spray that makes an inviting place for each pet to settle. You can find some great travel dog beds at Gooddogbeds.com, Ruffwear, and Kurgo. The Pheromone Spray we use is D.A.P. Pheromone Spray.
One other pre-flight stress that you can work on before you ever go to an airport is socializing your pet. If your pet is flying on a private jet like our clients do, this isn’t much of a problem, but if you will have to transit a large airport and security screenings and your pet is a bit shy, this could start a trip off badly. Gradually start taking your pet to places where there are more people present. Perhaps go sit on a park bench where you can watch people at a distance. Step it up to standing around in front of a store. Finally go somewhere really busy where people might bump into your pet and interact with him or her. Getting your pet used to being around people will not only make the trip easier, but will make your life easier and his or her life a lot more pleasant as well.
Now we have a pet who is ready to go out and get on a plane and travel! We’ll actually get on the plane next time…
Hey everypawdy, Maxx back at the helm here. I’m getting ready to head out on one of the most beloved adventures a pupper can head out on. You all know what that is, right? It’s the dog camping trip where you bring the humans along to carry the extra food and drive! I saw the camper arrive in the front yard this morning and I was so excited, I started carrying toys out there right away. I’ve got my floating frisbee, my floating Kong, 25 or 30 tennis balls, and a few squeeky toys that should wake the entire campground up around 0 dark 30. Perfect!
Mom, on the other hand, remembered our last trip where we seemed to run out of the house like it was an emergency and got where we were going without a few key items, so she had a checklist ready this time. Pfffffft. I think she overthinks it, but here’s what SHE thinks is a good idea when I come along, just to make sure the trip stays safe AND fun:
- Dog Tether (long enough so I can be out with the family while they set up camp but still secure): reads: long rope BOL
- Dog Tracking Collar with GPS (in case above malfunctions and you have a dog that is likely to run off)
- Double check Microchip registration information is correct
- Pet First Aid Kit (instructions to make a home-made one may be found online)
- Travel water bowl and mat (to make feeding area familiar)
- Dog containment area (screened-in porch area can be much friendlier option when enjoying the outdoors with pets together, also keeps bugs away)
- Dog life jacket
- Portable dog bed (ok, I use Mom’s bed in the camper, but this is good for outside)
- Travel dog bed for bottom of canoe (creates non-slip area where dog knows to go and is stable and comfortable)
- Dog food
- Drinking Water
- Waste bags (yes, you still pick up in the wilderness if in a camp area folks!)
- Waterproof blanket (LL Bean or Orvis): fleece blanket with waterproof backing you can put on your bed so a wet dog does not soak your down comforter or sleeping bag.
Well, so much for the simplicity of camping right? Actually, Mom just packed a dry-bag once with most of this stuff in it and grabs it when we go camping. I never notice a thing, hey… I’m a DOG! What I notice is that I go on long hikes with my peeps, swim in lakes and rivers, sail along in the canoe and bask in the sunshine and then fall asleep on the river bank all smelly and dirty. At the end of the day I usually score some melted marshymallow and some great camp food. Is this a dog’s life or what??? I highly recommend it, so get out there, be the dog and get your fur dirty a little folks. Enjoy the ride along the way, you might see me with my head out the window, so be sure to wave!
In August of 1988, I had an experience that forever changed me as a flight attendant. I flew the first leg of DL1141 from Shreveport to Dallas Ft. Worth and then handed the flight off to my colleagues as I did four mornings a week so they could continue on to Salt Lake City. We chatted about how much orange juice was on board and where the passengers with special needs were seated. I visited with many of my good flight attendant friends in the gate area who were headed to Salt Lake City for their annual recurrent emergency training and were waiting to board the flight as passengers.
By the time I was home, I learned the worst… “my” plane had gone down almost immediately after takeoff.
Many people survived that accident because they not only had the most senior crew in the base working the flight with vast experience, but they had 14 additional crew members scattered throughout the cabin on the way to their annual safety training. These were the best possible folks to have on board during an accident. They had just spent eight hours doing computer module training in aircraft safety and had to pass tests on that information before they could attend the “live” class. They were thinking about safety and little else at that point.
You often hear how important it is to have a well-trained professional flight attendant crew on your aircraft, or in general aviation, to have an egress trained cabin attendant. I thought it would be helpful to hear from one of the crewmembers on Delta #1141 who was on board that day deadheading. I asked Kay Magruder to describe what it was like in the cabin when things started to go wrong and if trained personnel made a difference. This is how she remembers the day’s events and how the crew impacted the outcome:
As a member of a 757 F/A crew Deadheading on the first leg of a turn-around, I was seated in 1A, which is the first row of FC, directly opposite the FC galley.
In addition to my crew, there were 7 F/A’s going to recurrent, and a crew of 2 pilots flying back to base.
We pushed back from the gate and taxied to take our place in line for takeoff. It was a clear, sunny day, however we were delayed by ATC by about 30 minutes. As we approached the active runway, I did my “silent” review, again being aware of the galley door directly across from me as my closest emergency exit. As we began the takeoff roll, I became immediately aware of how long it was taking the pilot to “rotate” the plane. As soon as we were airborne, we heard very loud “bangs” from the engines and realized that the pilot was struggling to keep the plane aloft. Realizing that we were about to crash, my first thoughts were “this can’t be happening,” then “thank goodness I’m close to an exit” to help assist in evacuating. After the initial impact, the plane skidded along the ground for what seemed like an eternity before coming to a stop. There was debris everywhere, and a very strong electrical smell. Dust filled the air, and smoke was already moving through the cabin up to FC. I realized that the F/A’s on the front jumpseat were too badly injured to evacuate, and at the same time saw that the galley door across the aisle was blocked with debris and not a usable exit. Turns out the entire right side of the plane was engulfed in fire, therefore making any evacuations to that side impossible. The deadheading crewmembers seated in FC were yelling commands to help guide passengers toward the front to evacuate out the closest possible way, which happened to be a crack in the ceiling. Miraculously, we were able to help many passengers escape this way.
Every crash/accident is different, and though we are trained to evacuate any plane under any circumstances, evacuating this airplane was far more challenging. The only usable exits were the 2 windows on the left side of the plane. There was much structural damage throughout the fuselage, and many of us actually used these huge gaping holes in the ceiling to escape the burning plane.
Once outside the plane, all of us F/A’s that were physically able, assisted in aiding injured passengers and directing them away from the plane and to triage areas where emergency crews were setting up. Of 107 total passengers (including crew), 14 perished. Eleven lost their lives to smoke inhalation in the very back galley of the plane, despite the heroic efforts of the F/A’s who tried to open the jammed doors before being overcome from smoke themselves.
Two other passengers were found at the front of coach were, though they left their seats, they obviously were unable to make their way through the smoke-filled cabin to escape. One passenger, who went back into the burning plane looking for his wife, passed away in the hospital days later from his severe burns.
As a F/A, of course this is your worst nightmare. But in truth, the intensive training that we receive initially and every year kicks in and you become that well-oiled machine that, though you hope you are never faced with such an event, are confident in and know that you can and do help save lives. Cokes and peanuts aside, this is what being a trained F/A is really all about!
It is obvious from Kay’s description that most of the options for evacuating that aircraft were never covered in any safety demonstration. Years of training on how to think in an emergency made all of the difference in this situation and being prepared to react instinctively made the difference when seconds counted.
The accident involving Asiana #214, as tragic as it was, was also an incredible demonstration of the detailed training that professional flight crews maintain to handle such situations. Chaos and panic could easily have prevailed when you look at that scene; instead that aircraft was emptied and passengers triaged. Few people realize the very specific training flight attendants maintain to handle this kind of emergency. A lot of people have been asking me what made this possible, so let’s take a look at what your flight attendant trains to do to help you in case of an emergency:
1. Can flight attendants really could get people out of an aircraft in 90 seconds and how is that done? Wouldn’t we need time to collect ourselves?
I thought this was a great question. I have been doing this so long it is second nature and I don’t think about it. Our goal is always to be able to empty an aircraft in less than 90 seconds. It is a benchmark. We just know you have to move fast. We are always prepared to begin immediately because during every takeoff and landing we do something called a “silent review” in our minds. When we sit down, we review the operation of our nearest exits, note alternates, scan the cabin once more for any unsecured items that might become projectiles, look for able-bodied assistants, note where those people are seated who might need extra help, review where the emergency equipment is in relation to our seat and then sit in a position that protects our body so we will have the best chance possible to successfully survive impact so we may immediately begin helping when the aircraft comes to a stop. Then we watch the progress of the takeoff or landing and listen to all sounds and notice any unusual smells while repeating the bracing commands in our mind so we are ready to start reacting immediately if something goes wrong. We may look like we’re thinking about our grocery list or ignoring you but we are mentally preparing for any sort of emergency.
2. The next question I received was specific to Asiana #214 and I was asked why they only used some of the exits.
Part of our training is to think through an emergency. When the aircraft comes to a stop, we go to our first choice of exit and assess conditions. If there is fire or water outside that exit or the exit is jammed by impact, that exit is not usable and we move on to an alternate exit. This is why we have been scanning the cabin for our alternates during our mental review so we aren’t stumped when this happens. We only open exits that will allow safe egress and direct passengers towards those exits.
3. Why do we have all of those bracing positions, how do they really help in that kind of accident?
By now probably everyone has watched the video and has a healthy respect for what kind of G-forces are involved when an aircraft lands badly. By assuming an appropriate bracing position, you accomplish two main objectives. The first objective; you get your head and torso below seat level so any flying debris in the cabin will not hit you. Secondly, when you wrap your arms around your legs, or brace them on a seat back you keep them from flailing about and injuring yourself or others seated near you. Remaining injury free is the first step in getting out of the aircraft.
4. That fire looked terrifying… what if a fire started while a plane was in the air?
Every year we do hands-on fire fighting training to give us the best chance possible to achieve our goal of getting an aircraft back on the ground quickly should we experience an in-flight fire. This training has become increasingly sophisticated and even includes modules on handling lithium battery fires. Often fires are in the walls of aircraft and unseen, so we are trained to detect them sooner by noticing odors, and then describing the color and texture of smoke to help determine the source. We fight fires smarter now with better equipment and get an aircraft on the ground a lot sooner where the true professionals can help us.
5. That scene on the ground looked so organized. Are flight attendants trained to help with the aftermath of an accident?
In addition to getting everyone off of the aircraft, and doing a sweep of the aircraft to ensure all are safely off, flight attendants have extensive first aid training. You may have had the opportunity to see a flight attendant respond to a heart attack or other medical emergency in flight, but this is just part of their knowledge. Each year, part of our annual emergency training is a first aid module that includes instruction on how to work with the first responders who come to the aid of a downed aircraft to set up an effective triage system. The very flight attendants who just endured the same horrific accident you did will help triage and then treat the injured passengers from their flight.
This is just a sample of the very specific training a flight attendant receives to make each flight safe. Add in how to handle a terrorist, a passenger with a psychotic break in-flight, and what to do if that plane lands in water or the wilderness and you get a more complete picture of what a flight attendant can handle. Fortunately, the average passenger never sees any of these skills and they tend to think the flight attendants might be extraneous. It took many years of repetitive training before I could react calmly and correctly to the crash scenarios or terrorist threats. You would probably appreciate having a well trained professional on your flight should things ever get sporty. Most folks will get that “deer in the headlights” look and not know what to do. It would probably make some people uneasy if they focused on what flight attendants are really trained to do. These are things nobody wants to think about when they fly. Your flight crew thinks about it every time they fly so you don’t have to. The crew of Asiana #214 demonstrated with pure precision how all of that training and professionalism comes together to save lives. I salute the crew of Asiana #214; they are indeed a tribute to our profession.
I thought I should share here at Sit ‘n Stay how this whole thing came about, since I recently shared this article over at Lean-In.org which was more than an honor. Seemed kind of silly I had never told the story of how we got started right here at home, so sit back, relax and enjoy the flight folks…
Truly successful people tell us that the way to be successful is to follow our passions.
I know, I started hearing it in business school and continued reading it in publications as a flight attendant for a commercial airline. Yes, you read that correctly. I never quite fit any precise mold, so after I graduated from college I decided to take a little time and enjoy myself as a flight attendant, much to my parents’ dismay. At any rate, I could never make the mental leap of how I could possibly just take that step and follow my passions and be really successful.
I flew for many years and searched a lot. I became a CPA, founded and ran an international non-profit, volunteered when I could and flew all around the world meeting thousands of people. All the while, my true passion was taking shape, and one day on the way to work from Kalispell, MT to Salt Lake City, I sat next to another flight attendant who told me about the world of private aviation. I leaned in…
Flying as a corporate flight attendant on private jets was perfect for me, and still is! It requires a level of independence, ingenuity, integrity and management skills that I had and yearned to use. I also loved fine culinary training and etiquette protocols and procedures. When I took my specialized safety training for private jets, the final piece fell in place. I learned about an accident where the humans survived but the dog on board did not. Now, I’m a huge animal lover and advocate, and this stopped me dead in my tracks. I had many years of safety training, but animals in the cabin was new to me and I could not handle the fact that there were no real safety provisions for them when I asked for specifics. I leaned in a little further…
I developed the first standardized Pet Safety Protocols for pets flying on private jets or in the cabin that cover everything from turbulence to bracing positions and evacuation. I also got trained in pet first aid and CPR. I knew the clients I had who traveled with their pets thought of them as family members, and they deserved the same safety considerations as their humans. I wasn’t sure if others would care as much as I did about this, but I knew I would feel better if anything happened, knowing that I could help all of my passengers.
Next I developed a brand that told my story and how it could satisfy a client’s unmet needs based on those safety protocols. I studied SEO and social media integration and worked to get the word out about what I was doing that was different. The best part was that I enjoyed every minute of it because I loved what I was doing! Here’s the key that anyone can take away from this. Start with what you know how to do well. Then think about what you love to do most. Finally examine where there is an unmet need in the work force combining your skills and your passions to satisfy that unmet need. Think in terms of how you can help others. Lots of folks are out there with his or her hand out these days and it gets exhausting for those doing the hiring. Plan to do plenty of giving for a while to show how you can help and why life will be easier with you around. Don’t wait for the perfect job to find you, leaning back in your chair… Lean in and get up and create the perfect job and take it to others! Just because you are settled in an established career doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it and follow your own dream. You don’t have to start all over and become an astronaut, start with what you know and use it.
So when I was interviewed by HGTV, and they said I had the “dream job,” all I could do was agree. I mean, when I was a commercial flight attendant if someone had asked me to combine my passions into one dream job I would have come up with:
“Flight Attendant on Private Jets, specializing in traveling with Animals!”
Then I would have laughed and said; but of course, that’s impossible…
A Fresh View Of The Ride on A GII
Since more pets began traveling on private jets, Sit ‘n Stay Global, LLC, the leading pet air travel safety consultants, wanted to get a canine perspective on how that ride measures up. Our SpokesDog, Surf Dog Ricochet, was more than happy to help us out with that assignment. Ricochet has agreed to help put a face on our campaign to promote standardized pet safety protocols on private jets.
For those of you unfamiliar with Surf Dog Ricochet, she was originally trained to be a Service Dog but had a little too much interest in chasing squirrels and such. She could also surf really well, so her Mom decided to focus on that strength instead and now Ricochet lives a life helping people focus on what they CAN do as a SURFice dog. She raises money for worthy causes and promotes kindness, charity, philanthropy and social responsibility. Stop by and see her story at: http://www.surfdogricochet.com/ and be sure to join her on Facebook!
It just made sense to her when she rode on a Gulfstream 200, that she should share her take on it with her fellow pawsengers who might be considering this kind of ride.
A Ride on Air FURce One
By Surf Dog Ricochet for Sit ‘n Stay Global, LLC
OK, so can I just paws for a moment here and say “Oh yeah baby!” This is the way a girl of my stature is meant to fly. There were just a few steps up into this nice vehicle, no jumping required. The carpeting was thick and soft and looked to be almost a butter cream Persian. I could stand and walk freely, no crouching which was nice of course. There was an attendant on board who appeared to be there simply for my comfort which is always a nice touch. I wonder why nobody has thought of that for the back seat of the car? You know sometimes I would like the air vent adjusted in the car or a sip of water… but I digress.
My own personal seat was thick and well cushioned and the leather was a rich, soft, buttery piece of heaven. My attendant made it even more luxurious by putting a soft blanket on it for me and propping pillows around me. These were supposed to be part of keeping me safe, but I gotta tell you I was in dog heaven. My Ruff Rider harness slid right onto the aircraft seat belt like they were made for each other and I was as secure as ever. It was really cool; the attendant took a few minutes to teach my Mom different bracing positions for us in case there was turbulence or an accident and we even practiced, which was fun at first but then got pretty boring. She even had a special pet oxygen mask on board for me in case we lost our usual air supply when cruising around way up high. I tell ya, I could relax and enjoy the cushy seat because she thought of everything! I got up and walked around a bit too, which is something you like to do on a long ride that you can’t do in a car. I found that to be a big advantage! I discovered a small kitchen where you could counter surf if nobody was looking, a definite plus over a car. Then on my way back to my seat I discovered a couch!! The fancy airplane people call it a “divan” but it was just like my couch at home and it was sweet! You could really stretch out on it, but it wasn’t quite as worn or quite as squishy as my sofa. It is the only thing I think they might want to work on over there at Gulfstream. You could sprawl there and watch the nice flat screen TV without straining at all. We even got Animal Planet… BOL!
Did I mention how easy it is to eat while in one of these vehicles? They have beautiful burled wood tables that make it simple to enjoy a nice meal served by the aforementioned personal attendant. It is so much more civilized than rooting old Snausages out of the cracks in the back seat… seriously!
FURst Class Service
As we left I noticed the GII has two drivers. Maybe one was just learning?? Anyway, they were nice and they did a good job and one gave me a cookie so that was just icing on a perfect day. This was a beautiful way to travel and if you can talk your people into this mode of transportation you should definitely go for it!! I hear that, just like cars, they make many models. I hope to try them all soon. A girl could get used to this, BOL!
G200 As Tested:
Long Range Cruise: Mach 0.75
Range at Long Range Cruise: 3,400 nm
Basic Operating Weight: 19,500 lbs
Engine Type: PWC PW306A
Thrust Rating: 6,040 lbs
Typical Passenger Payload: 4 passengers
Cabin Length: 24 ft 5 in
Cabin Height: 6 ft 3 in
Cabin Width: 7 ft 2 in
Wingspan: 58 ft 1 in
New Base Price: $ 21.5 M
- Sleek and Luxurious from every angle
- Soft, Cushy and furbulously comfortable
- Can stand up and walk around
- Counter Surfing and Couch
- Smooth, quiet ride with quiet soothing hum in background
Ricochet’s Less Likes (what’s to dislike?):
- Couch could be sloppier and squishier
- Can’t open windows and stick head out
- Can’t see out front window when driving
Overall rating: 4 Paws UP!!!!!!!
Ricochet’s “personal attendant” was provided by Sit ‘n Stay Global, LLC. Sit ‘n Stay Global provides pet sitters who will spoil your pet wherever you may roam as flight attendants and pet nannies. We are all trained commercial and corporate flight attendants and have developed standardized Pet Safety Protocols for pets flying on private jets. Learn more about us at our website: http://www.sitnstayglobal.com/ or cruise with us on Facebook or Twitter and keep up with us there!
Each of our crew members travels with a pet seat restraint, a pet flotation device and a Pet Oxygen Mask and is certified in Pet First Aid and CPR. We are also available to train flight crews in Pet Safety on private jets.
Pet Safety is important however you travel, so give it some thought no matter how you and your pet get around. BOL, buckle up and enjoy the ride!!