You can pick up the July edition of the Baja Citizen now on the streets of La Paz! The August edition of your community newspaper will be out August 7th, 2012.
Archive for July 13th, 2012
What do you do when you have been traveling with your beloved Spot or Fluffy and, after you have purchased your tickets, or in some cases arrived at the airport, you are told that your furry friend is not welcome on the plane?
Oh we know there is always the option of relegating your tiny teacup poodle or aged cat to the cold and lonely hold, but would you? Could you? It just isn’t safe for little guys and aged gals, and it ain’t the Ritz for large dogs or healthy cats either.
You can do what some of our readers did:
- One man left his two cats in an air-conditioned room in their house and asked the housekeeper to feed, water, and potty them. Hardly a good solution, but the only one he could find.
- More than one couple split up their travel, with the husband driving the dogs north and the wife flying home.
- Or in one case, the husband flew back to Oregon, drove the 2,000 miles back to La Paz to collect his wife and pets.
In case you missed the initial howl of anger from pet owners across Mexico, here is background:
Two months ago, a letter went out from the Mexican Director General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) to all US and Canadian airlines, reminding them of a 2007 Directive which, among other things, prohibits transporting pets in the cabin on all flights to, from, and within Mexico. There was no grace period or warning.
One by one, the airlines began to implement the policies set out by the DGAC, and the internet immediately exploded with rumors, speculation, and petitions from angry travelers. Snowbirds who normally travel with their small pets were left stranded at airports, many were compelled to drive home rather than fly, some have even been forced to leave their beloved pets in the care of housekeepers or friends for months at a time. The blogosphere was inundated with letters from rescue groups and a host of Canadians and Americans threatening to sell their homes in Mexico or to vacation elsewhere.
According to local developer and Untied Airlines pilot, Rick Byers, a plane is a plane. They all have climate controlled holds, once the plane is in the air.
Alaska Air for one brags about its climate controlled cargo hold for pets.
Rick pointed out that while any plane sits on the tarmac, the cargo bay doors are open and your precious Siamese or Chihuahua is subject to the climactic conditions outside the plane. Non pet lovers, it is important that you understand why owners will not put their small pets in the hold.
The La Paz group of pet lovers was advised that the Secretary of Transportation (SCT) takes direction directly from the president and would not be influenced by their efforts. And with an election looming, it would be difficult to get any decision from anyone for weeks or maybe months. So they decided to attack the various departments of tourism. Many expats who had recently been in Mexico City for a forum and met Gloria Guevara Manzo, Federal Secretary of Tourism, knew she is on Twitter, and the tweets flew out to her all day, every day. The claws came out, teeth were bared, and the fight was on.
A concerted online effort soon began all over North America to get the ruling reversed, in large part by illustrating how devastating it would be on the Mexican economy, especially the tourism sector. In a matter of days, hundreds of people had called and emailed the Mexican Tourism Office in Monterrey to register their concerns and complaints.
Calls flooded into the Ministry of Tourism in Monterrey. These poor fellows were inundated, and on top of that, misinformed. One caller was told by the service rep answering the phone that the law only applied to domestic airlines. As the days passed and the volume of calls mounted, the Monterrey office started taking names and promised to take the complaint higher and keep the callers informed. The Mexican Tourist Office in Los Angeles had voicemail only and soon the system was unable to take any more calls.
Thanks to social media and the raised dander of pet lovers everywhere, the effort paid off. On June 25th, a Revised Circular went out to the airlines, stating that pets and service animals would be allowed in the cabin, effective immediately. The new Circular (CO AV-07.8/07 R2) is an interim, temporary measure that will remain in effect while the DGAC works on revising article 107 of the law of Civil Aviation. The official revisions are expected to be in place in September of this year. One of our translators indicated that there are some restrictions: no snakes, Barbie the Boa must remain at home, so sorry.
According to our translators, the new circular also means that domestic Mexican airlines will now have the option to allow pets in the cabin. This change was swift, all-encompassing, and nearly miraculous for any bureaucracy.
But as we already know, there was an election on July 1st. Things change after an election. Pet lovers: You must remain vigilant and cannot let up on the pressure. Send emails and tweets and make phone calls thanking the various tourism ministers for understanding the issues and taking swift action. And remind them that travelers are still watching, and they will vote with their feet and their wallets by visiting more pet-friendly skies.
To contact the Mexico Tourism Board in Monterrey:
From outside Mexico: 1 800 446 3942
From inside Mexico: 001 880 446 3942
As of this writing, people are reporting that they have boarded planes with their pets and encountered no issues. There was a problem with Alaska Airlines in La Paz on July 2nd, the first day of the change in the law, but that appears to have been cleared up.
Keep checking this Facebook page for more info:
We have provided some important information within the paper with travel rules, airline fees, and a chart showing what airlines will allow what pets in the hold and at what times of the year.