I’ve Got Three Tickets to Paradise

October 22, 2016 Lynne 1 comment

“I’ve got three tickets to paradise”…I can’t get the lyrics to this Eddie MONEY! song out of my head! Probably because Delta Air lines requires a pet shipper to fly Bella to Rome at an added cost of at least $2500! $$$ Wow! Nick and I are using points and cash to book this flight at half of that price.


This is Bella’s second flight. She was just 10 weeks old for her first airline flight. I cashed in a ridiculous amount of Delta SkyMiles to fly to Atlanta early on a Saturday morning to pick up my sweet pup. We returned home on a Delta flight to Albany, NY the same day, with Bella in a pet carrier under the seat as carry-on. She was an awesome traveler from the start and never made a peep.

Waiting patiently for departure time on a hot Atlanta day
Waiting patiently for departure time on a hot Atlanta day


This time, full-grown 44 pound Bella will be flying as “excess baggage” on an 8 plus hour flight in the belly of the plane. You don’t have to look very hard on the internet to find horror stories about dogs flying as cargo or baggage. Needless to say, I am more than a little anxious about it. Add to that the paperwork, rules and regulations to “import” a dog to Italy, and it’s enough to make you crazy.

Bella win't fit in a carry-on bag any more.
Bella won’t fit in a carry-on bag any more.


Nick and I have been squirreling away frequent flier miles for both United and Delta Airlines. However, both of these airlines require you to use a pet shipper for international travel, which is super expensive. In addition, they won’t book your dog on a flight more than two weeks in advance, and there is no guarantee that your dog will be on the same flight with you. Ugh. Thousands of dollars to ship our dog and we won’t even arrive at the same time? Oh no, this is just a terrible option.


Then on an Instagram account I follow I saw a post where a pet owner had flown with her two Australian Cattle Dogs from Panama to Oman on KLM. In a private message, I asked her which pet shipper she had used. She replied that KLM did not require her to use a pet shipper, and she had made all of the arrangements for the 21 hour trip herself, and saved about $8,000.

We've crate trained Bella to prepare her for travel
We’ve crate trained Bella to prepare her for travel


We could easily fly KLM to Rome from New York City, but it requires a layover and we are determined to fly non-stop for Bella’s sake. So I called Alitalia and guess what? I found that they don’t require a pet shipper! We could get a round trip ticket to Rome for $846 each for Nick and I, plus $200 each way for Bella. Alitalia is a Delta partner, so we were able to purchase one ticket through Delta with our Skymiles for Nick, and I booked through Alitalia with Bella in tow, and amazingly on the same Delta-Alitalia flight. We are flying together with 3 Tickets to Paradise!!


If I thought paying for a pet shipper would be significantly better for Bella or for us, I would do it in a heartbeat. Call me a control freak, but I prefer to do it myself.


We are going to ask one lucky family member to drive us down to JFK airport in NYC for our direct flight to Rome. We’ll be able to check Bella in, escort her through security and load her in her travel crate ourselves. It will be our responsibility to confirm that she is loaded on our flight and to advocate for her health and safety in case of delays or problems. We’ll ask the flight crew to check the temperature and air pressure in the pet area of the baggage compartment periodically throughout the flight. It is nice to know that we’ll all arrive in Rome at the same time.


There’s still a lot of planning to do, but for now I’m going to channel Eddie Money and sing:


I’ve got three tickets to paradise
Won’t you pack your bags and we’ll leave tonight
I’ve got three tickets to paradise
I’ve got three tickets to paradise



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