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UPDATED: No pets allowed on Airbus planes in First or Row 3
If you’ve been following along with the Alaska/Virgin merger then you know that Virgin as a brand is, well, no more. However, their planes are still continuing to fly, Elites can now be upgraded on them ( wahoo!), and while I’ve been generally very positive about the integration, there is something to be aware of when traveling with a pet. The integration of their systems has caused some issues, mainly because they are operating two different airplane manufacturers, Airbus and Boeing, and Airbus doesn’t pressurize its cargo hold. I recently ran into the problems on a trip to D.C.
A couple of weeks prior to departure I had confirmed I’d be flying with a pet, added her to the reservation, and thought everything was fine. Then the night before, I’d called into to see if I could execute a same day flight change ( elites are allowed to do this at 10pm). While checking, the rep said he would have to ask because of my in-cabin pet. He then asked me if my pet was only supposed to fly one way. I said no, she should be on the itinerary in both directions. Unfortunately my same day change couldn’t be executed, but he did assure me that she was on both directions.
At check in I was given my boarding pass and upgrade. No mention of a pet. Great if for some reason I wasn’t being charged the $100 fee, not good if she had been removed.
The rep didn’t have my pet on the reservation, but when she dug into it, she found that she was in the notes. She phoned in to ask what to do. For some reason, although noted, it wasn’t prompting her to process it. Additionally, she said that the pet was confirmed in the opposite direction. Huh? So what’s going on?
2 days prior on Airbus aircraft to add a pet. Only in cabin.
She said that they had been having issues processing pets. Because of the different aircraft in operation, the system was having issues adding pets to itineraries. In fact, all the Alaska flights operated by Airbus aircraft now require that you add a pet two days in advance. Even if there is space available in cabin on the aircraft, it wouldn’t be possible at check-in. Whether in practice this is 100% the case, I’d be well aware of that and plan accordingly.
Also…be very aware that if you’re planning on putting your pet underneath, you need an all Boeing itinerary.
Flying on Airbus as an Elite:
I recently flew and was not only stripped from the upgrade list, but also bumped from Main Cabin Select ( row 3, which offers free food and drink) because pets can not be accommodated there. This is something that needs to be more clearly relayed to Alaska elites. I was never informed of either complication, not even at check-in. I was just merely bumped to row 25, a non reclining seat next to the bathroom.
If you can, call in well in advance, but make sure that your pet is 100% on the record if you’re flying an Airbus plane. If you’re worried, call in, or ask via Twitter, about your pet being noted on your record to double check. Also, realize that you are negating any chance of an upgrade if you fly on an Airbus, as well as sitting in Main Cabin Select if you have a pet on your itin.