Eyes of a Friend

Life with companion animals

More airlines embracing furry travelers

on July 10, 2009

Story Highlights

Most airlines allow small pets to ride in crates in the cabin for a fee
Pet Airlines will fly to five cities, transporting pets only
Continental moved 270,000 pets in 2008 as part of its pet program
Allergist say pets flying in cabin is dangerous for some patients

This month, Pet Airways, the nation’s first pet-only airline, will begin flying in five major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, California. It’s an alternative to shipping larger pets in the cargo area of a plane, where there have been pet injuries and even deaths.

Southwest Airlines was the latest airline to join the pet-loving bandwagon in May, when it permitted small dogs and cats to travel in the cabin area. The pets must sit in an approved kennel that fits under the seat.

The Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t have restrictions on whether animals can be in the cabin area, but airlines must allow service dogs for the disabled on board.

One airline is catering to allergy-ridden customers who don’t want pets in the cabin. Last year, Frontier Airlines banned pets from the cabin area because officials said pet allergies are common among their customers.

Not every traveler has had smooth experiences with pets on board. Terry Trippler, a travel expert, recalls an unpleasant incident years ago when a dog had diarrhea three rows in front of him. “You could certainly smell it,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The only real way to solve the problem is no pets in the cabin.”

Fee chart comparison – by airline

By Stephanie Chen CNN (CNN) — A few weeks ago, Tony Hoard, a 57-year-old manufacturing worker in Indiana, boarded a flight on Midwest Airlines to Las Vegas, Nevada, with his Australian Shepherd. The flight attendant smiled at the two and said, “Welcome aboard.” Hoard has flown with Rory, his furry 40-pound companion, in coach more than 15 times on Midwest, the Wisconsin-based airline that boasts “The Best Care in the Air.” Each time they fly, Rory wears a harness and sits strapped into a seat. “Rory gets the window seat,” said Hoard, whose dog has won a series of Frisbee competitions. “He likes to look out the window when the plane takes off and naps the rest of the way.”

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Note from CJ: I’ve never taken an animal on a plane, but I’ve read too many stories about some poor dog dying here at Sky Harbor Airport after flying in the cargo hold or left on the tarmac in the heat. I remember seeing movies/TV scenes with actresses (usually the Gabors) taking their little dogs in the cabin with them on their flight, and always thought that was the best way, at least for a small/medium pet. I would have to figure out the solution to the diarrhea potential, but that would be less stressful than the potential of heat stroke when left on the tarmac “for a few minutes”.


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