All Airlines Are Not United When It Comes To Pets; Maybe Flying “Pet Airways” Is A Better Option?

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Last week was turbulent for United Airlines.

Last Monday – As reported by WAN, was the day that a French bulldog named Kokito, tragically and senselessly lost his life inside an overhead bin on a United flight from Houston to New York.

Kokito’s owner was reportedly forced to place him inside the bin by a flight attendant who, according to the airlines, “did not hear or understand her” when told there was a dog inside the carrier.”

Catalina Robledo, Facebook

This despite reports that the 10-month-old puppy barked for two of the three-and-a-half-hour flight.

Barking is a universal language. How was this able to not only happen in the first place but continue ultimately ending with the dog’s death?

Tuesday – Irgo, a 10-year-old German Shepherd landed in Japan instead of Kansas while a Great Dane en route to Japan ended up in Kansas. United issued an apology for this mix up as well. At least no lives were lost this time and the dogs were returned to their proper destinations.

 Joseph Swindle, Facebook

Friday –  United Airlines third animal related mishap of the week took place when a flight from Newark, New Jersey, to St. Louis, Missouri had to be re-routed to Akron, Ohio, upon realizing that yet another dog was loaded onto the wrong flight.

In May of last year, as previously reported by WAN, United Airlines also made headlines after a giant rabbit died after flying from London to Chicago.

“We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care. We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets. To achieve this outcome, we will partner with independent experts in pet safety, comfort, and travel,” United Airlines said today in a statement. “While we are doing this review effective immediately, we will not accept any new reservations for pets that travel in the cargo compartment.”

“This suspension does not affect pets that travel with us in the aircraft’s cabin.”

United must review its procedures and come up with a comprehensive plan that ensures pets safety in the cabin as well, or stop transporting pets period; it must be more than bright colored bag tags that United claims will “help better identify pets who are traveling in-cabin.”

No more excuses United!

These tragic incidents and others raise so many questions. WHY United? Especially when time and time again, their once “friendly skies” have proven to be extremely unfriendly to pets on board, as well as their families.

As per federal government reports, over the past three years alone, the rate of dogs, cats, and other pets dying or being injured has been significantly higher when they are traveling with United compared to any other major domestic carrier.

WHAT other airlines have pet traveling policies in place? Most. While some may vary in criteria and conditions, most have similar and basic rules and instructions for traveling with pets.

Here is an example.

Alaska Airlines permits passengers to travel with small pets in the cabin of its aircraft for a fee of $100.00 each way. Pets allowed in the passenger cabin include dogs, cats, rabbits, household birds, and tropical fish.

American Airlines accepts small cats and dogs in the cabin of the aircraft as long as they are in a carrier in which the animal is “able to stand up, turn around, and lie down in a natural position.” The fee for pets traveling in the cabin is $125.00 per carrier, each way, and the pets need to remain in the carrier with the door closed and under the seat during the flight.

For a $100.00 fee each way, JetBlue allows small cats and dogs in the cabin of the aircraft on both domestic and international flights. The combined weight of the pet and carrier may not exceed 20 pounds. Pets must remain completely in the carrier with the door closed and under the seat during the entire time that the pet is in the aircraft.

Southwest Airlines also allows customers to carry cats and dogs in pet carriers on board all domestic flights. The pet fee is $95.00 each way per pet carrier. The carrier may contain up to two cats or dogs of the same species.

Additional options also exist such as booking four-legged family members on Pet Airways, the first pet-only airline specifically designed for the safe and comfortable transportation of pets. This is also a fantastic alternative for larger pets who may otherwise be confined to cargo.

As per its website, Pet Airways’ “Pawsengers” travel in the specially equipped main cabin of the plane where they are constantly monitored by an On-Board Pet Attendant.

There is also an option to charter a private flight through the company for families wanting to travel on the same flight as their pets.

In addition to flights for family pets, Pet Airways is committed to “helping solve the disdainful practice of euthanasia of pets in shelters” by providing flights, through its Shelter-Pet Relocation Program.

While there are never any guarantees, WAN suggests researching each airline for specific pet policies, as well as their known track-records of flying furry family members.

For those keeping track, this morning it was announced that an 8-month-old puppy traveling to Idaho on a Delta Air Lines flight from Richmond, VA, was also misrouted over the weekend.

Perhaps we should all drive next time we are traveling with our beloved pets.

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