I realize I'm VERY late in coming back to this topic, but I just wanted to report back on how things went with the trip.
What I did before travel was bring the kennel into my nearest WJ counter and have them take a look at it-they said it was fine. They recommended the ties as well, so that's what I used.
The outbound flight was a bit of a nightmare due to kenneling (as in boarder) issues. They were supposed to (and paid much extra) give her the gravol and drop her off at the airport, both of which they royally screwed up. They neglected to tell me that if my flight was delayed, so would the dog, so I was in limbo at the airport in near hysterics not knowing where my dog was (whoever was answering the phones there couldn't tell me anything and then they shut off the phones for the evening at around 6pm
). When my unsedated and highly stressed dog finally showed up at the airport, I was also pretty upset. Quite the ordeal trying to then get a pill into her, scan the kennel etc, but eventually managed. Airport staff were awesome (although they probably thought I was a little nuts). Boarding staff never bothered to return my phone call after. Person who dropped her off just stood around looking bewildered at my upset.
But lesson learned-NEVER AGAIN with that boarder, and likely never again in general. It was the first time in years I had flown with her, and she's a senior dog...needless to say I was cursing myself for leaving her in the "care" of this kennel for a good while after.
A note on the pull ties - the kennel door had to be secured shut with one of these prior to her going on her way, making it difficult to free her upon landing/pick up. On my return trip I stuck a little safety scissors into an easily accessed pocket of my checked baggage.
A note on the flight timing. Early morning for me at least, was the more ideal time to travel. As an older dog, she's usually loads more relaxed and kind of sleepy in the am, and it helped the gravol do it's thing.
I had one of those collapsible water bowls on hand too, but didn't need it.
The flight back was much smoother, pleased to say