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Top U.S. Airlines List Airline Pet Policies

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(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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Atlanta (WAOK/USA Today)– Traveling with pets can be a hassle for every party. The owner, the airline, and the other passengers must all deal with the issues that come with customers bringing their pets on vacation or flight trips with them. Airlines have even taken concessions to let pets ride in the cabin with their owner instead of in the cargo hold as in the past.

Tamara Hall, a frequent business traveler, is allergic to cats and doesn’t understand why pets are allowed in the passenger cabins of airplanes. Hall told the USA Today, “With the dander blowing throughout, we were all sneezing and itching by landing” she states as she recollects a time when she had to travel on a 16-passenger flight while two cats rested under their owners seats. “My eyes were almost swollen shut.”

Many airlines have stopped serving peanuts due to customers having allergies, but they have not taken steps to prevent the flight of pets. This may be in part to the fact that snack and drink are given freely to passengers, yet passengers must pay for their pets to fly. Basically the airlines are making it known that if you pay then you can play. The largest operating airlines in the U.S. all allow pets to be brought into the cabin by passengers for a fee, ranging from $75 on Southwest Airlines to $200 on Delta Air Lines foreign flights. Some only allow cats and dogs while others allow birds, and rodents such as rabbits and hamsters. Pets must be inside of their carriers and the carrier must be able to fit underneath the seat in front of the passenger that is bringing the pet on-board.

Each airline has procedures and policies on pet travel, but the Federal Aviation Administration explains that you can call ahead to your airline about its pet policies. General travel regulations set forth by the FAA allow for a limited number of pets in the cabin, but require that the pet is clean and not hostile, remains in a travel-safe container throughout the duration of the flight and that you have a current health certificate to show proof of vaccinations.

Below is a listing of the top U.S. airlines and their policy and/or procedure for bringing pets on flights.

Southwest Airlines: Allows a maximum of six pets per flight, but may make exceptions. They sell pet carriers for $48 at airport ticket counters. Passengers that may be severely affected by an animal allergy should notify a Southwest Airlines airport employee. “We will work to ensure that the customer is seated on the opposite end of the aircraft, as far away from the animal as possible” says Michelle Agnew, airline spokeswoman.

Alaska Airlines:
a one-pet maximum in the first-class cabin and five in the main cabin according to spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey. She stated that Alaska Airlines receives very few complaints from passengers objecting to animals on aircraft.

JetBlue:
Limits number of pets to four per flight. “If a customer has a pet allergy, we ask that they inform an in-flight crew member upon boarding the aircraft. Upon request, an in-flight crew member will try to create a buffer zone and place the customer as far away as possible from any animal on board.” says spokeswoman Tamara Young. “JetBlue will offer a full refund to customers for whom these conditions make it impossible to travel.”

United Airlines:
Three pet per flight maximum. Spokeswoman Christen David states that “All pets must remain in their kennel throughout the duration of the flight, which mitigates most concerns customers would have about allergies. United will relocate or rebook the passenger on another flight.

U.S. Airways:
Allows dogs, cats, and birds on domestic flights, but they are prohibited on flights to and from Europe, South America, the Middle East and various Caribbean destinations.

Spirit Airlines: Spokeswoman Misty Pinson says that they allow dogs, cats and birds on domestic flights but prohibits birds on flights to and from Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The airline only allows “service of comfort” animals on foreign flights.

Hawaiian Airlines: The airline allows a cat or dog in the passenger cabin for $35 on a flight between the Hawaiian Islands or $175 for a North American flight that doesn’t land in Hawaii. It does not allow pets on flights from outside the state that land in Hawaii because of animal quarantine laws states spokeswoman Ann Botticelli.

Written by Sherman Smith (WAOK/Intern)

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