Flying with your fur-babies? So much for pet-friendly skies
Ever flown with creatures in tow? Did you stress over the cargo hold’s temp, scheduling evening flights only? Or were you lucky enough to bring him aboard, “under the seat in front of you”? Did you have to brave the dirty looks from the middle-seater? Endure vet visits for inter-state transport health certificates? Submit to an extra $100 to $275 for her “ticket”?
So you know, it’s not easy to travel with your pets. Forget trains––they won’t take ‘em. Rental cars? Some specifically exclude pets. Flying or driving your own car is often the only viable option. And, unless you’ve got a four-pound frequent flier, you’ll likely have a stressful, expensive experience.
Next month I’ll be flying with my Sophie Sue to San Francisco. She’s been so not-quite-right lately that I can’t bear to leave her behind. But I worry about the tighter restrictions on air travel, her weight-limit issue (she’s 18 pounds so, depending on the airline’s restrictions, I have to “smuggle” her aboard), the nearby-passenger factor and the potential discomfort of it all (for her, not for me) during a four-and-a-half-hour, cross-country flight.
It’s almost enough to consider skipping it altogether, leaving her with loved ones and hoping no crisis befalls her. That’s the most common scenario for most pet people. Yet many of my own clients report that they fail to travel at all because their pet can’t travel with them. I don’t blame them. But it doesn’t seem fair, either.
Luckily, airline safety for pets seems to be improving. Careful restrictions on flight times and temperatures and the preponderance of information on how to travel safely with your pets now means only a “handful” of deaths every year in US carriers (according to an AP piece in Sunday’s Miami Herald). Sure, the soft stat may not inspire confidence for the extremely risk averse but it helps most of us to know that someone’s keeping track.
In any case, it’s clear our airlines have a long way to go before they begin to treat our pets in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed––as family members, that is. At least one carrier, however, is looking to change that.
As of July, Pet Airways out of Delray Beach, FL ("no humans please") will offer $250 one-way tickets for flying your pet between several major cities (New York, DC, Chicago, Denver and LA), with a $150 introductory rate to pique your interest. Not sure yet what that entails, but its arrival on the scene seems to bode well for the safer transport of pets. After all, if it’s their bread and butter you’d think it would translate into more personal care than the gorillas in cargo can muster.
Still, if we can’t travel with our pets what help is that? Unless I’m moving, I don’t expect an airline like this would appeal to me.
Remember the smoking sections of years past? Well how about a pet section? What if one flight a day between major cities was “pet-friendly”? I don’t know the answer, I’m just musing. But I do know there has to be a better way...