I phoned NWA this morning and this is what they told me (figured I would post it here rather than just PMing MCAT b/c so that we can all see it). Some of this info will be specific to Finn, so you may want to phone yourself: 1-800-692-2746 (opt. 7)
There are two ways to ship a pet -- VIP and general cargo.
If there isn't a direct flight, then any pet going to be shipped using the general shipping method MUST go through either Detroit or Minneapolis/St. Paul as these are the only two airports with kenneling facilities. Or maybe if that is only if there is a longer than 4-hour layover between flights. (I knew I should have had more coffee before I called!)
General shipping is only available on weekdays because the kennelling facilities are closed Sat/Sun.
Cost for general shipping of a dog our puppies' size is $225-230 (incl. taxes), plus $60 kennelling fee. These costs have in fact gone up since I first phoned and was quoted $170 (plus tax) for shipping and $50 for kennelling.
If you are using the VIP shipping method, it can be done pretty much anytime, including weekends. In Finn's case, he will also arrive in Great Falls at 1:06pm instead of 10:45pm so there is no kennelling involved.
The cost for VIP shipping is $260 plus tax, so right around $290. Which makes it essentially the same price as general cargo would be (with kennelling).
The airline must have 24 hours to 10 days' notice of the animal being shipped. You can't pay a head of time with a credit card, payment for the animal must be made at the time of shipping (obviously b/c it's based on weight, etc.) They do not need a credit card to "reserve" a spot in the cargo hold for the dog.
What else... oh! Temps -- she said that b/c Finn's flight is leaving TN so early in the morning (8:40am), the temperature should be under the 85F cut off and not a concern. Even in MSP (flight leaves at 11-something) it shouldn't be a problem. I asked her what would happen if the weather was above 85F in MSP and she said they would just hold Finn until the evening flight when temps were lower (but she assured me repeatedly that it would be extremely rare for it to be that warm in MSP that early in the day).
MCat, I know you've had some really frustrating calls w/ unhelpful jerks
: but my experiences have been awesome. Today we were laughing and joking around, she told me to have a fabulous weekend, couldn't believe it when I said I'd never been in a Target store, recommended certain menu items when I told her we were going to hit an Applebee's for dinner in Great Falls...
I think that was everything.