Should You Let your Pet Fly?

An airline has reversed course; now Frontier will fly your pet – be it dog or cat or rabbit or guinea pig or hamster or bird – for a fee

  • $75 one-way in the cabin for small creatures
  • $150 one-way in cargo for the big boys

For you historians out there, Frontier Airlines quit flying animals on its planes two years ago because executives said they felt they needed to be “respectful” of those with allergies (or those who just didn’t like flying with non-humans, I guess). They went back to their pro-pet stance after getting “a lot of feedback” about it – presumably from doting pet lovers.

Most airlines now transport pets, but the question remains: should you let them transport yours?

Could Flying Kill Your Pet?

I ask because rarely does a month go by without a “cargo” pet being injured or even dying aboard a flight. The most recent figures from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) show that March of this year was relatively benign, with only one “pet incident” involving an animal that was injured aboard a flight.

However, three pets died in airline incidents in February, and four pets died in November.

Don’t Drug That Dog

Are the airlines to blame?

Maybe – but not necessarily. Some pet owners may put their dogs or cats in carriers that are not up to standards, or they may tranquilize their pets which the American Veterinary Medical Association specifically warns against, noting that sedating animals traveling on planes can “increase the risk of heart and respiratory problems”.

Another thought: consider paying more for the airline that caters specifically (and only) to animals – Pet Airways. Every creature gets a seat in the cabin, and though they wouldn’t be traveling with you, they will have human attendants.

Is Your Animal Simply Too Old to Fly?

But face it: some animals just aren’t good travelers. Or maybe your pet is too old to fly. Only you know if your buddy is up to the rigors of getting on an airplane and arriving safely. If in doubt, leave Sparky at home with a pet sitter. He really doesn’t care about flying in to visit the Statue of Liberty or touring the Grand Canyon, trust me.

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Published: May 17, 2010