Trouble at Düsseldorf Flughaven

Our trips are never always straightforward.  I think as Mummy pushes the boundaries, one day we might be caught in a situation where we get stuck.  That could easily have happened yesterday. I almost did not get on the plane to Malta.

We arrived at Düsseldorf Airport – tired from the night before but raring to go.  We even had time for a funny photo with Ronald McDonald.IMG_4331

We joined the queue to check in for our flight to Malta.IMG_4337It took forever before we got to the “bitte heir warren” sign.IMG_4338 And it still took so long, I was in all different positions before it was our turn.IMG_4345Everything seemed fine until the staff asked how much I weighed. She said I needed to be under 6 kg!

And I needed to be in a bag that could zip me in. Mummy told her that she was told Air Malta’s limit is under 10 kg. And the bag we were using had been used on several other flights without problems.

We were sent to the handling company for Air Malta – and there Mummy challenged them.
She told them she had spoken at length with the airline when booking our tickets and we were told in-cabin dogs need to be under 10 kg. And I weighed 9.5 kg.

When they did get around to checking the guidelines, I think they were surprised. They learnt something new.

They then insisted I needed to be totally zipped up in a bag. Mummy had to buy the largest one they had which took dogs up to 12 kg. I did fit and it was comfortable for me to sit inside of it. But they still said it was not possible because I could not stand up. So why do they sell bags for 12 kg dogs? A short-legged 12 kg dog doesn’t sound right. And why would I want to stand in the plane for two hours?

Mummy queried their “rules” – so they had to call two other authorities to discuss the matter. After what seemed like a long while, the more senior authority overruled the two desk staff and agreed that as long as I was fine in the zip-up bag, we were allowed to travel together in-cabin.IMG_4346We hurried back to the counter to gather our boarding pass before anyone changed their minds again. The check-in lady told Mummy that a few weeks ago, someone had travelled with their dog in a tote bag and the air crew had given her a hard time. She said she’s glad that it worked out for us and wished us a good journey.

To be honest, I’ve never been in a zipped-up bag before and wasn’t sure what was happening.
Mummy spoke to me quietly and told me I needed to be a good girl and stay in the bag.
Once zipped inside, I was fine. It was actually quite cosy and Mummy kept dropping in treats at the top. She better be careful or I might just weigh over 10 kgon our return flight.IMG_4352We’ve flown on several other airlines and have never encountered problems. Well, there’s always something new each time we travel together. Mummy said this time they were just misinformed sticklers.

Goodbye Düsseldorf – I don’t think we’ll be flying out of there again.IMG_4350

May’s comment:  We’ve flown out of Paris, Milan, Stockholm and Amsterdam without any problem like we encountered at Düsseldorf airport. They were real sticklers but they did not have all their facts right.

When a third-party attendant was called for consultation, she looked at me and the bag and said it was fine by her. The two sticklers then argued with her. Another more seemingly senior attendant arrived. He didn’t know about the weight limitations on Air Malta either but when he looked it up and realised maybe I knew more than they thought I did, he started to heed what I had to say and started to look for solutions rather than putting up barriers. The two sticklers kept repeating their “rules” but the senior attendant finally said – according to him, Darcy was good to go in cabin in the bag they sold me.

Then I was told I had to pay for Darcy to travel on board – which I had already done while making my flight reservations. It took them another 15 minutes to confirm what I told them.

It was rather annoying that they assume that one had not researched and prepared for our journey.

The thing about sticklers is when you’ve proven them wrong, they try to find other reasons to stick to their original decision. They are not solution orientated but rather look for barriers. And it took the senior attendant to make the final call even though the other two were still telling him that Darcy did not look like she could stand in the bag.

But once we left check-in the rest of our experience at the airport was really pleasant. The staff at security smiled at Darcy paid her lots of attention. Several other passengers asked me what breed she is. A man on the phone stopped me in mid-conversation to ask about Darcy and then told whoever he was speaking to that she’s a cockapoo.

I was told labradoodles are more commonly known in Germany. Maybe now there will be a surge of cockapoos in Deutschland.

I am relieved we managed to get on board. If we didn’t well, there was always something to do in Dusseldorf.IMG_4347As always, Darcy proved once again to be a very amenable dog. She had never been inside a zipped carrier and I had to coax her to get in. Once she did, she settled down, curled up and relaxed and not one whimper from her even though she was always a little unsure about the noise during take-off and landing. It was amazing how ell she took to the bag.

On the other flights (SAS and Air France) she stayed in the bag only for take-offs and landings. Once in the air, she was allowed to sit on my lap. But on this Air Malta flight – that was not an option. Their rationale is – other passengers may not be used to dogs. I had asked the lady who was sitting in our row if she minded – she actually told me she was hoping we would be sitting next to her as she loves dogs!

The air stewardess suggested that I sit alone in the back when I told her I think the neighbouring lady did not mind having Darcy next to her. She seemed surprise! Why do they underestimate their passengers? They could have just asked them first instead of assuming.

At the same time there was a passenger in the seat in front of us who could not get up nor sit down in his seat without assistance. He wasn’t a cripple – just overweight. In the case of an emergency, that passenger would be more of a liability than a dog.

Was it worth the hassle? Sometimes I think not. And yesterday I almost gave in except I could not fathom the alternative.

Well, this might just be the tipping point and George could be the next candidate to travel in cabin with me. I do think he will be a lot easier – and he is definitely within weight limits for all airlines that allow dogs. Of course not British Airways.

3 Comments

  1. Bonnie

    Bravo ! Darcy .
    Beautiful dog . Xo

  2. Laura cordovano

    Well done Darcy! I would write to the CEO about this. Those underlings should be fired.

  3. san

    Well done you guys!!

    May, you are a very brave woman.

    I was so nervous for both of you when reading your blog.
    Literally holding my breath!

    Enjoy your trip!! 🙂
    I am sure its all worthwhile.

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