Friday, October 16, 2015

Pet Friendly Airlines 2015

Major Airline Cargo Hold
Years ago, people who wanted to fly with their pets had to put them in a travel safe crate and then stick them in the cargo hold of the plane.  

Would you want to travel that way? 

Cargo Hold For Pets In Crates
If you think flying is stressful, just imagine how the experience must impact an innocent, unknowing dog or cat when packed away in the cargo hold of a commercial jet.  Air travel, in fact, is not just stressful for animals.  It can be dangerous, no matter how smooth the landing, timely the departure or friendly the flight attendants. Conditions in the cargo hold of commercial jets are not always friendly; temperatures can fluctuate wildly, noise can be tremendous and air pressure can drop significantly, and pets that are checked into this dark space beneath the passenger cabin sometimes die.  In 2011, thirty-five pets died while (or shortly before or after) traveling on commercial flights with U.S. airline companies.  Nine animals were injured and two lost entirely.  And in 2012, 29 pets died, 26 were injured and one was lost. These numbers should be considered in context; the U.S. Department of Transportation says that two million animals travel on commercial flights each year.

In other words, just that an airline accepts your animal as checked baggage does not mean that conditions will be comfortable or safe for an animal checked as baggage. Unforeseen hazards can arise once a plane is loaded and prepped for takeoff.  On airplanes that have been delayed after leaving the terminal and parked on the blazing tarmac, temperatures can escalate dangerously.  Pets have also died due to low temperatures.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has rules (14 CFR part 382) that require airlines to allow passengers to fly with their service animals in the cabin on all U.S. airlines.  Service animals are not pets.  They are working animals that assist persons with disabilities. There is no limit to the number of service animals that can be on any flight.  Service animals do not need any health certificates to travel and they do not need to be confined in a container or cage.

What are the FAA rules regarding traveling with pets in the passenger cabin?
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows each airline to decide if they will allow you to travel with your pet in the passenger cabin.  If an airline does allow you to bring your pet into the cabin, we consider your pet container to be carry-on baggage and you must follow all carry-on baggage rules (14 CFR part 121, section 121.589):
  • Your pet container must be small enough to fit underneath the seat without blocking any person's path to the main aisle of the airplane.
  • Your pet container must be stowed properly before the last passenger entry door to the airplane is closed in order for the airplane to leave the gate.
  • Your pet container must remain properly stowed the entire time the airplane is moving on the airport surface, and for take-off and landing.
  • You must follow flight attendant instructions regarding the proper stowage of your pet container.

What kind of general procedures do most airlines have in place?
If an airline allows you to travel with your pet in the cabin, you must follow all FAA regulations.  Usually, most airlines have additional policies and procedures for you to follow to make sure that the flight is comfortable for all passengers on the airplane.  These additional procedures may include:
  • A limited list of the types of pets that you can bring into the cabin
  • A limit on the number of pets in the cabin
  • A limit on the number of pets that may accompany you on the airplane
  • A requirement that your pet be harmless, inoffensive and odorless
  • A requirement that your pet remain in the container for the entire flight
  • A requirement that you be able to produce a recently issued health certificate for your pet
  • Where can I go to get more information about traveling with pets in the passenger cabin?

You can get more information about traveling with your pet from the following:
  • Department of Transportation
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • National Center for Infectious Diseases
  • AC 121-36: Management of Passengers who may be Sensitive to Allergens

At a preferred expert travel agent, knowing my clients who have pets and being a pet owner myself, it is not only important to keep a list of all the airline’s pet travel policies to make sure that clients are fully aware of these issues when traveling with their pets but to keep clients informed.  That’s the difference between your travel agent and online agencies!

Remember, there are many other ways of traveling besides airlines.  There is the auto train, car, buses, and boat/cruise, amongst many others.  Make sure you contact us or your travel agent for more details on pet travel so that your pet stays safe!

Do you have pictures of your pets traveling with you?  Please share your pictures and experiences with us!  We would love to hear all about it!


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