U.S. Airlines And Animal Travelers

Originally published

by Cheshire Kitten on 6 August 2010

in the Special World News section of The Anipal Times

Last summer, the New York Times was asking whether or not airlines should allow pets in the cabins. Unfortunately, this summer the news tells us why our humans should think twice about letting us animals fly in the cargo compartment of an airplane.

Although airlines have guidelines that animals can’t be accepted for travel in the hold on days that the temperature will exceed 85˚ F (29˚ C), American Airlines transported 14 dogs on a flight from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Chicago, Illinois. The temperature in Tulsa exceeded 85˚ before 8 o’clock in the morning, and to top it off, the plane experienced a delay, according to USA Today, and LOTS of other news teams.

Seven of the dogs died, according to news reports. The authorities are examining the dogs’ bodies to find out the exact causes of death.

The U.S. Department of Transportation keeps track of deaths and injuries among animal passengers traveling by air in the United States. In the past five years, 122 dogs have died while in the custody of airlines. (The breeds with the highest risk of death are those with pug noses.) The latest deaths make that at least 129.

A moment of silence in memory of those dogs is in order.

Some deep thinking about how to travel with pets is also in order. Many of us anipals like to travel. We even have a travel section in The Anipal Times. The AT would like to share some travel options with our humans that may help to keep us safe while traveling.

The first tip is to avoid flying with pets when possible. Many humans prefer to drive to vacation destinations or new homes when they are taking anipals along. Some experts recommend leaving us at home with a reliable pet sitter when it’s vacation time.

Puppy on a plane was originally published by Paul Shultz on flickr.com
Puppy on a plane was originally published by Paul Shultz on flickr.com

When anipals must fly, we should insist that our humans take an airline that flies us in the cabin along with the people. While humans are not united on this positions (just take a look at that discussion in the New York Times!), we anipals should be, but how do we know which airline to pick for our humans?

In the United States, first choice is Pet Airways the airline just for pets. Pet Airways flies to nine major metropolitan areas, including New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles.  Pet Airways staff calls us pawsengers and checks on travelers every 15 minutes. The flight attendants will give medicine, but no sedation is allowed. Tickets are booked based on the size of carrier a pet needs to stand and turn around in. Ticket prices are based on size of carrier and distance. The company calculates that an average price is $250. Humans are NOT allowed to fly on Pet Airways.

PetFinder.com helps anipals and their humans choose an airline in the U.S..  According to PetFinder, JetBlue has the best amenities for pets and their humans, AirTran offers the cheapest airfares for animals and Frontier will take the most different species of anipals in the cabin (dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small birds).

The most important qualification is safety, and PetFinder says the safest airline for pets is JetBlue. JetBlue simply won’t put animals in the cargo hold.

Other airlines have some tolerance for animals in the passenger cabin, so make sure to tell your humans to ask about it before booking. They might have to pay more, but we are worth it!

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