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Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

Dallas, Texas
posts: 1
reviews: 39
Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

So, I've been flying 2 - 3 times a week to the West Coast and thought I'd start racking up miles with Virgin rather than American for a change; try converting to a West Coast airline. I always book First Class or Main Cabin Select (like business class), despite it being about double the price. I book the more expensive fare because it gives you more space to work, and it tends to not have children or other distractions -- which allows me to continue being productive while traveling. I'm a mom and love children and pets, but these trips are business and I need to get work done during the substantial travel time. I was floored on my most recent trip to find out that my expensive seat got me . . . seated next to a man and his dog. And the dog apparently had something for me, so I spent much of the flight pushing him off of me and wiping his slobber (he was a licker). I tried to get some work done as planned, but finally conceded. Especially since the man and his dog had to get up several times. The kicker -- he told me they upgraded him for free. There was also another very large dog in First Class (not a service animal), with a 20-something year old female. Same thing. She was sat next to an unsuspecting stranger. I am a dog lover. But I don't expect to share my seat with a dog when I fly, particularly in First Class or Main Cabin Select. There's simply no good way to confine a dog in your neighbors' lap for 4 plus hours. My daughter is allergic to some animals, and what if it had been her?! When I called Virgin to talk to them about it, they shrugged and asked what they were supposed to do about it; yes, they allow dogs, not in carriers. Here's a suggestion for Virgin: if you want to cater to pet lovers without isolating other travelers, it just takes a little thought. Pets should be isolated to certain rows (perhaps the last two on the plane) with prior notice to passengers on those rows that they may be seated next to an animal so that people who don't wish to sit next to an animal or can't for health reasons can select other seating. Alternatively, people bringing pets on board should be required to buy them a seat, separating them from the person next to them. I have had to fly with my dog, but kept him in a carrier and under the seat. No passenger, much less someone paying full fare for First or preferred classes, should be required to sit next to an animal unless they've chosen to do so. I'm so disappointed, I was hoping to spend all my frequent flights on Virgin, but this has been a huge lick in the face.

35 replies to this topic
Italy
Destination Expert
for Livigno, Lombardy
posts: 39,140
reviews: 127
1. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

I simpathise with you and can understand you being annoyed with a dog bothering you all the time, and can't understand Virgin upgrading someone with an animal in tow maybe he knew someone at the check in desk or someone who works for Virgin. i'm also an animal lover and think that your idea of isolating them to certain rows is a very good idea but the only thing that might not work with that could be dogs fighting with other dogs or cat owners finding themselves sat next to dog owners etc I suppose they could make the owners be responsible for the behaviour of their pet but it might be a bit difficult to impose this.

rural West Aussie
Destination Expert
for Perth
posts: 15,040
reviews: 52
2. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

As someone who loves my pets very dearly, I can't understand why they are allowed in the cabins at all. As the OP points out, what if another passenger is very allergic to pets- especially cats?

London, UK
posts: 1,114
reviews: 112
3. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

I agree with you 100% and can't get over the fact they allow pets loose in the cabin in the first place. I've seen the occasional cat in a carrier, but that's all. Loose pets seems a ridiculous idea to me, so the fact that Virgin America allows it suggests they must think they would lose business if they didn't. And would they guarantee to move passengers with severe animal hair allergies? My brother was so allergic as a young child, he would have had an attack if seated anywhere near a dog or cat, even one several rows away. And can they always seat pets away from each other, or could other PAX have to live with two dogs growling at each other throughout the flight? And what do they do if the frequent flyer in the premium seat is really scared of dogs? Really, the mind boggles, especially on a long-ish flight like yours.

I'd be inclined to write to Virgin America's head of customer services, explaining your concerns. But I'm guessing allowing loose pets on flights must be something US travellers demand, or a Virgin America USP, as otherwise they're setting themselves up for all sorts of complications.

Edited: 10:34 am, June 19, 2013
New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,731
reviews: 53
4. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

Emotional Support Animals. The "human rights" loophole of allowing any bugger and their brother to bring an animal onto an aircraft. Pathetic if you ask me.

Vancouver...
posts: 1
reviews: 1
5. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

What you are saying about your experience with Virgin America seems to be false. Here is their pet policy:

Virgin America is a pet-friendly airline that accepts cats and dogs in the Main Cabin of the aircraft. Pets checked as baggage are not accepted. Guests with pets cannot be seated in the Main Cabin Select seats (either exit row or row 3) or the First Class cabin. Also on connections with Interline partners, pets are not allowed.

Each animal should be carried in its own kennel (provided by the guest). We allow one pet carrier for each purchased seat, and one pet per kennel. Puppies and kittens must be at least 8 weeks old and weaned. The total weight of the animals and kennel cannot be above 20 pounds. If traveling between the United States and Mexico, click here for additional requirements for International Pet Travel.

Agenda much?

Darwin, Australia
Destination Expert
for Darwin, Kakadu National Park
posts: 2,098
reviews: 156
6. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

Emotional Support Animals was one I had never heard of until now but Mr. Google did find a lot of postings on it, I liked this one matadornetwork.com/change/… especially where " the D.O.T specifically states that the “inconvenience of other passengers is not sufficient grounds to deny a service animal carriage in the cabin.”

Now there have been some long debates on this forum about nut allergies and the like but some people do have an allergy to dogs hair and if you have dogs you know their hair takes a lot of effort to remove from material and it can turn up in some unusual places.

New York City, New...
posts: 2
reviews: 13
7. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

Pathetic for someone like a veteran with PTSD or severe anxiety disorder to have an emotional support animal with them?

New York City, New...
posts: 2
reviews: 13
8. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

Virgin America is a pet-friendly airline that accepts cats and dogs in the Main Cabin of the aircraft. Pets checked as baggage are not accepted. Guests with pets cannot be seated in the Main Cabin Select seats (either exit row or row 3) or the First Class cabin. Also on connections with Interline partners, pets are not allowed.

Each animal should be carried in its own kennel (provided by the guest). We allow one pet carrier for each purchased seat, and one pet per kennel.

airline-pet-policies.com/virgin-america-pet-…

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 7,731
reviews: 53
9. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

Pathetic for someone like a veteran with PTSD or severe anxiety disorder to have an emotional support animal with them?

________________

Yes.

Fortaleza, CE
posts: 6,879
reviews: 348
10. Re: Has Virgin America gone to the dogs? In a bad way?

If you don't like an airline's policies, fly another airline. There are many. If you have a strong allergy, inform the airline before you book. People with allergies so strong that, for example, they say they can't be anywhere around even other people eating certain foods (e.g., peanuts) have to do that. Not sure the gratuitous snide remark about "human rights" (by another poster, not OP) had anything to do with the topic.

I transported my pets from the U.S. to overseas working assignments in Mozambique and Brazil. I never saw an animal run loose in a cabin except once when a certified service dog was allowed outside of a carrier (but certainly did not run "loose"). My cats were in the cargo hold, in carriers, since those allowed in the cabin of airlines I flew with (American, United, Lufthansa, South African, TAM) had to be of a particular small size (including carrier) and there was a limit to the number of animals allowed in a cabin (usually 2 or 3, I believe). Some airlines stopped transporting animals in baggage holds during the summer, or entirely, due to a number of high-profile lawsuits.

Those with such strong negative feelings on VA's policies can have the biggest impact by patronizing other airlines. If there is a route where only VA flies, I'm not aware of it. I doubt any official of VA will read these posts or, if they did, give a rip.

Edited: 2:26 pm, August 22, 2013
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