I believe pets should not travel in aircraft cabins, but I swear it’s not because I’m bitter about the time Delta gave my seat to a dog.
In fact, the dog that displaced me was not a pet but a service dog traveling with its trainer. And while I remain indignant that Delta moved me back a row instead of bumping me into first class, I have to admit that it was reasonable to give the dog and trainer the bulkhead.
The dog was very well-behaved, too, and proved it by not reclining its seat on me. Or, rather, my seat on me.
It didn’t make me sneeze, either, because I’m not particularly allergic to furry critters. But lots of people are, and that’s why I think pets should be carried in cargo holds, away from human passengers.
Of course, service animals are another matter, and airlines recognize that. In the balance between a handicapped person’s need for a service animal and the suffering caused to an allergic passenger, it’s reasonable for the handicapped person’s needs to prevail. Besides, it’s not a conflict that’s likely to happen often because there are not, per capita, all that many service animals in this world.
But there are a whole lot of pets.
Years ago I brought a friend to Bradley to catch a flight to attend her father’s funeral. She was, of course, overwhelmed with grief. As I waited with her at the gate (that was in the old days), I spotted a woman with a cat in a carrier.
After some negotiation with the gate agent, I got my friend’s seat moved as far as possible from the cat owner’s seat. It was a short flight, the cat was contained and my friend did not have a severe reaction. But I came away convinced that she shouldn’t have had to deal with that added stress.
I share my opinion on this with some trepidation. Every journalist, columnist and blogger knows that hell hath no fury like an angry pet owner. So before you flame me for Fluffy’s sake, please let me state for the record that I like cats and dogs well enough. Actually, I love cats and at least one dog.
I just think the comfort of human passengers should come first.
And if you want to fly with your cat or dog, allow me to mollify you with some links explaining how to do it. (Yes, I’m trying to appease you because I fear you. And your little dog, too.)
Airline rules on flying with pets run the gamut, from Air Canada, which recently banned pets even as checked luggage, to Midwest Airlines, which awards frequent flier benefits to pets. Many airlines fall in between, with some animals allowed in the cabin and others only in the cargo hold.
[I have no idea what happened on the flight that prompted Delta to make the passenger cabin off-limits to sugar gliders (Wikipedia: small, gliding possum native to Australia) but I’m sure glad I wasn’t on it.]
Anyway, TRIPSwithPETS.com has a handy set of links to the pet policies of all the major domestic airlines. And PetFlight keeps an eye on safety with reports of animals injuries and deaths on domestic airlines.
And please remember. I like pets. Look how well I’ve fed mine:
(As for taking her on a flight, I don’t think I could afford the overweight baggage charge.)