2. Flying to and from Italy

Delta bans pets from its Boeing 767 cargo holds

Delta Air Lines Boeing 767

ABOVE: When your Delta Air Lines 767 flight takes off, your pet may be left behind.

A reader called our attention to a new Delta Air Lines policy on pet travel: Effective June 9, 2012, Delta no longer accepts pets in the cargo hold--whether as cargo or as checked baggage--on its fleet of Boeing 767s. (See Delta's official statement.)

This is bad news for American pet owners who live or spend extensive periods overseas, including military families at the U.S. Army Garrison in Vicenza, which is served by the Delta route between New York's JFK International Airport and Marco Polo Airport in Venice.

To make matters worse, Delta is replacing Airbus A330s with Boeing 767s on some of its other internatinal routes, such as MSP-CDG, thereby making it even harder for military families, expats, and international travelers to fly to or from the Venice area with their pets.

Our reader tells us:

"I am just about sick with the red tape trying to figure out WHO will now fly our [dog] into Venice (at this point Delta, US Airways and Continental/United have said no).  Delta said their new policy is only non-stop flights and only to Rome. Continental/United said they only fly pets into Milan and as of May 6th if you are not military you must use a third party pet courier to take the animal to the plan even if you are on the same flight!  They won't accept pets from owners.  US Airways says no pets, period."

Note: Maggie is in the United States at the moment, and we're wondering how we can get her back to Venice without subjecting her--and us--to a roundabout, three-leg flight itinerary. (On our last transatlantic journey with Maggie, we were able to use a Delta flight into Paris Charles de Gaulle and connect to Venice on an Air France A320, but Delta's new 767 policy makes that routing impossible.)

Photo: Delta Air Lines.

Maggie flies home to see a new baby

Maggie at Paris CDG Airport

ABOVE: Maggie poses with her Kennel-Aire crate at Paris CDG Airport.

We flew back to the U.S. with Maggie on March 19, since our new granddaughter was expected to be born on April 1.

Azalea Dorothy Imboden As matters turned out, Azalea Dorothy Imboden arrived a few days early, on March 26, which gave us just enough time to recover from jet lag before seeing our new member of the family.

Although the new baby's arrival held no surprises, the same couldn't be said of our journey with Maggie: We missed two connections on what was supposed to be a one-connection flight, and Maggie arrived at our home airport before we did. Here's a chronology:

Saturday, 7 a.m.: After getting up at the crack of dawn to catch a water taxi from the Grand Canal to Venice Marco Polo Airport, we waited for our Air France flight to take off in an early-morning fog.

Maggie's crate at Paris CDG Airport Saturday, 11 a.m.: We arrived late at Charles de Gaulle Airport, where we were informed that it was too late to board our Delta flight with Maggie. A helpful ticket agent rebooked us on a two-leg flight via Atlanta, so we walked Maggie around and outside CDG Terminal 2E until it was time to deliver her to the baggage handlers.

Saturday, approximately 8 p.m. Atlanta time: For multiple reasons (the plane being overweight in Paris, and our gate being occupied when we arrived at Atlanta), our Delta CDG-ATL flight was nearly an hour and a half late. It was obvious that we weren't going to make our 8:05 p.m. connecting flight.

After an interminable wait at passport control, we were given meal and hotel vouchers and told to take Maggie and her crate to the baggage recheck belt, where she'd be sent to an animal hospital and delivered to our flight the next morning.

Sunday, 7:30 a.m.: Maggie wasn't delivered to the plane in time for our departure, so we flew home with the expectation that we'd have to wait for her to arrive on the next flight.

Sunday, approximately 10 a.m.: We arrived at the baggage-claim area at our destination airport, where we found Maggie waiting with our two sons.

It turned out that Delta's Atlanta ground crew had put Maggie on a 10 p.m. flight instead of sending her to the overnight vet, and the baggage-office staff at our home airport had fed, walked, and played with her during the night. We thanked our prescience in sticking a "Maggie loves people" label in three languages on her crate before the trip.

As the saying goes, "All's well that ends well," and we were relieved to be at home with Maggie waiting for us and Baby Azalea still waiting to make her entrance. 


Flying to Venice (with a ride in a water taxi)

Here's a three-minute video that shows highlights of Maggie's transatlantic flight from the United States, a change of planes at Paris CDG, her arrival at Venice's Marco Polo Airport, and a 20-minute ride by water taxi to the Fondamenta della Riva dell'Olio on the Grand Canal. (From there, it was about a five-minute walk to Maggie's new winter home in an apartment on the Campiello Albrizzi.)