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Spanish Secrets: Paw Avion

Craig Briggs, his wife Melanie and their dog Jazz flew off to the island of Lanzarote for Christmas and the New Year.

Before our move to Spain, Melanie and I used the Christmas break to get away from it all. Our favourite destination was the Canary isle of Lanzarote. The island guarantees its visitors year-round warm and sunny weather - a bright contrast to a wet and cold English winter.

After moving to Northern Spain we spent our first Christmas in the house we were renting. This was a very different experience to Lanzarote but proved equally enjoyable. By the time of our second Christmas, we had moved into our new Spanish home. This was the first time we’d celebrated Christmas in our own home for ten years. The experience, like the house, was new to us.

After a second Christmas in our own home we were finding the allure of a Yule Tide break increasingly attractive. It was at this point, and purely by chance, that I read an advertisement in a Spanish newspaper.

The advert was for Iberia Airways (Spain’s national airline). Using my limited translation skills, I managed to decipher that, for a limited time period, the airline was offering discounted air fares. A more detailed investigation using their English language website confirmed my hesitant translation.

“How do you fancy spending Christmas and New Year in Lanzarote?'' I enquired of Melanie.

This was an opportunity too good to miss. But what of our dog, Jazz?

A quick telephone call to Iberia and the matter was settled.

Unlike the paranoid UK authorities, Spain and the rest of Europe have a much more sensible approached to the transportation of domestic pets. They understand that dearly loved and well-cared-for domestic animals, pose no threat whatsoever to human or animal health.

All we had to do was buy her a ticket, check her in and off she’d go. The only downside was she didn’t qualify for the ticket discounts.

Jazz would be priced as excess baggage; a less than complimentary description and a cost to us of six euros per kilo. Time for a diet! In addition to this fee was the cost of her case. That’s for her to travel in, not her wardrobe. Our discount travel was becoming not such a bargain after all.

To say it was her first air excursion, and our first time tackling the airport procedures, everything went fairly smoothly. That’s more than can be said for her first landing.

The decent was smooth and uneventful. In an attempt to make the landing equally so, the pilot left the actual touchdown rather late. Realising the aircraft was rapidly running out of runway, he quickly switched the engines into reverse thrust. With seat belts straining, bums slipping and people holding onto their seat-arms for dear life, the plane finally started to slow.

My immediate thoughts were for Jazz. I just hoped someone had securely fastened her in. I had visions of her and her case tumbling along the fuselage closely followed by 250 over-weight and bulging suitcases.

As it turned out, she and the baggage were adequately restrained and non-the-worse for their airborne experience – although getting her back into the case on the return trip, may prove slightly more difficult.

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