Can I take my pooch to Paris?

Our expert answers questions on the dog's life in France, frequent flyer miles as wedding gifts and Las Vegas hotel deals.


Donald D. Groff
May 13, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

I'm going to Paris in the fall and would like to take my small dog. I
know that dogs are generally welcome in hotels and restaurants there, but
what about shops, the metro, etc.? Also, will the dog be able to travel in
the cabin on an international flight?

Your pet will be universally accepted in Paris, much to the amusement and
occasional chagrin of foreigners. An expatriate friend of mine goes berserk
every time a waiter starts coo-coo-ca-chooing some diner's pooch while
ignoring the other customers. And the animal tolerance extends beyond dogs.
A recent story in the Boston Globe told of a couple who toured France for
months with their cat, and even in grocery stores the shoppers barely
blinked except for those who asked to stroke the cat.

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An excellent guidebook is "Paris Inside Out," by David Applefield (Houghton
Mifflin, 3rd edition 1994); its section on pets notes: "Dogs are allowed
in restaurants and most public places, although they must be leashed in
parks and bagged on the metro and on trains. For an assortment of dog
bags, go to Samaritaine."

You may well be able to carry your dog aboard your flight to Paris, but it
depends on the airline and your timing. On domestic flights, small pets are
routinely allowed in passenger compartments providing they're in a carrier
that fits beneath the seat. For international flights you'll have to check
on your airline's policy; if you call the reservation number, a ticketing
agent will be able to tell you. Not all airlines allow carry-on pets, and
even those that do have limitations.

Whether in the cabin or the cargo hold, each pet must have inoculation
documents and a recent health certificate from your vet saying the dog's
in good shape.

I'm getting married in September, and my fianci and I are both travel
buffs. We'd love to be able to "register" to get frequent flyer miles as
gifts. Is such a thing possible?

Great idea! It would work spectacularly for newlyweds and
gift-givers, especially those frequent flyers with zillions of points
piling up in the mileage bank. The only hitch is the airlines, whose
program rules would probably interfere with this union of gifter and
giftee.

Each airline has its own frequent-flyer program rules, and as a rule the
airlines do allow transferring of mileage awards. But when transferring,
they usually require that you transfer an entire award, such as a domestic
round-trip for 25,000 miles or so.

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Some airlines do let frequent flyers donate mileage in smaller increments
when they're applied to charity programs devised by the airlines. So it's
technically possible, but I don't think you'll find many airlines, if any,
that would allow the incremental donations for your purposes. At best,
make sure your mileage-heavy friends and relatives know your desires -- and hope to hit a jackpot.

The other catch in the concept is this: Even if an airline allowed
such a bridal registry of mileage, it's hard to believe it would ever
guarantee when you could cash in the award. This would be a major sticking
point for honeymoons, which most couples like to time rather precisely.

One of the biggest complaints about frequent-flyer programs is that members can't take
their free trips when they desire because of seating limits and blackout
dates.

The most authoritative Web site on the topic of frequent flyer programs is
WebFlyer, which constantly fields questions such as yours. It has a good
searchable database of questions and Randy Petersen is constantly
accepting new ones, too.

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A good wedding site that also takes questions is Weddingpages.

For a family reunion in Las Vegas in June, where can I get the best hotel
bargain prices? I have looked at Hotel Reservation Network and Priceline.com and have called
various hotels. What is promised is not always available. We'd really like
"package deals," but no one seems to be offering them. What do you suggest?

Like winning at the slots, getting the best hotel deals in Vegas depends on
timing. Even though the city has well over 100,000 rooms, it's such a
popular destination that the rooms everyone wants -- those in the newer,
glitzier properties -- often fill up early. When occupancy is up, there's no
incentive for the properties to cut prices. If you were arriving in
January instead of June, you'd have better luck.

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Your job is made harder because family members are coming from different
directions. Those coming from big cities might be able to get air/hotel
package deals offered by tour companies that advertise in the Sunday
travel sections. You'll probably have to do what you're already doing --
shopping around -- unless you can find a local travel agent who's willing
to undertake the task for you. If you tell an agent right off how many
people you'll be booking for, you might get a warm reception.

You might also try the vacation departments of the airlines that fly into
Vegas -- they may have blocked space available for packages.

Touch base with the Las Vegas Convention
& Tourist Authority.
You can call the Reservations Department at (702) 386-0770 or
(800) 332-5333. Hours are Monday-Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday
from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. PDT.

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Sites with Vegas hotel information include Visiting Vegas, Accommodations
Express,

Hotel Reservations Network and
1-800-USA-HOTELS.

I really need to ask specific travel questions. Elsewhere I get
generalizations. Where do I go to ask veteran travelers?

Regardless of where you plan to travel, there are more ways to get
firsthand information today than ever. And it's a good thing, because
travel agents are in no mood to research and dispense background
information unless you're a steady paying customer.

The Internet offers great info for many destinations -- the Wanderlust area of Salon's own Table Talk, for example, is an excellent place to swap questions and tips with far-flung residents and fellow travelers. Many similar
resources are available, such as the member exchanges on AOL's travel site.

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The Web sites of many guidebook publishers have expanded well beyond simple
excerpts from their books to include sections by readers and travelers to
post supplemental information from recent travels. Among them are Lonely
Planet Publications
and Rough Guides.

Besides online sources, there are many low-tech ways to get up-to-date
info, partly because people who travel have a penchant for sharing what
they know, even if they're not getting paid for it. Adventure travel and tour companies that operate in your destination know
the ins and outs very well; if you call and get an employee who's been
there, they'll often chat at least briefly about the destination. You can also contact ethnic organizations linked to your destination, like an
Italian-American group if you're headed for Italy. These groups may have Web sites, too.

Youth hostels, especially those in gateway cities, are hotbeds of good
information, both from current travelers and from the people who run the
hostels. For locations, contact the American Youth
Hostels.
Increasingly, embassies and consulates also have their own sites that provide
current news and local information. Some are mentioned in the consular
information sheets provided by the U.S. State
Department.
And a number of foreign tourist offices include visitor reports on their Web
sites. To locate them, go to a site such as Tourism Offices Worldwide
Directory.


Donald D. Groff

Donald D. Groff has been dispensing travel advice for a decade for such publications as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Kansas City Star.

MORE FROM Donald D. Groff

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