June 9, 2005

mile-high pets

From next Wednesday on, airlines must report the tally of deaths, losses, and injuries of household pets on board.

Is it really that dangerous to fly your pet? I decided to take a look at the pet travel options on the big international carriers Northwest, Delta, and United.

All three let you bring animals in the cabin with you for domestic flights, but usually there is a one animal per person, and a two animal per flight rule.

As far as international travel goes, Northwest will allow carry-on to most destinations, with the exception of the U.K., Hong Kong, and Hawaii. Delta only allows carry-on pets in the general North America region, and will not fly any animals in any way (carry-on, checked luggage, or cargo) to the U.K. United Airlines will only fly pets to the U.K. as cargo.

Everyone thinks that you can't bring pets into the U.K. without having to quarantine them, but you can. It just requires completing a long and tedious list of pre-travel tasks, part of the Pet Travel Scheme, such as blood tests, microchip implantations, a series of vaccinations, and the proper passport documentation for the animal. Basically, it's a huge pain in the ass and can take several months to get done. Six months is probably the bare minimum one should allow to get everything done. The blood tests have to be carried out at EU-approved laboratories, of which there are only two in the United States.

I've read a lot about flying your pet as checked baggage and it's not as bad as it seems. It is not at all advised to sedate your pet prior to flight. Most deaths during flight are a result of the animal being put under. It will be scary for animals to be up during the whole thing, but they will make it out okay. Animals do occassionally die during flight, but it is rare, and probably had more to do with the owners than the airline.

There are strict guidelines that airlines must follow, such as not flying any animal as checked baggage or cargo when the temperature anywhere along the flight is above 85 degrees, or above 75 degrees for snub-nosed animals. Certain areas of the world and country are completely banned from flying animals through during the summer months.

Basically, airlines are a lot more concerned than one would think.

Pet travel information:
Northwest Airlines Priority Pet
Delta Airlines Pet Travel Information
United Airlines Pets

Posted by ause0007 at June 9, 2005 1:56 PM