The Best Pet Friendly Airlines

Quite recently Petfinder.com did a survey on the best pet friendly airlines in the USA for 2009. Here are their results:

1. Continental - Safety First

The best rated airline was Continental for its PetSafe program. This program has a 24hour Live Animal Desk (1-800-575-3335) that will track your pet from its departing city to its arrival city. Although Continental’s pet program does cost a bit more than other airlines, it is climate controlled and has extra room for carriers as well as designated cargo staff. Pet owners who have their pets travel via the PetSafe program are eligible to earn flight miles. Small cats, dogs, pet rabbits and household birds and parrots are also allowed to fly in the cabin for most domestic flights for approximately $125 each way.

Pets allowed in cabin: Small dogs, cats, rabbits and birds
Pets allowed as checked baggage: No
Pets allowed in cargo: Yes, all pets that are checked travel in climate controlled cargo, not as checked baggage.

2. JetBlue Airways – Full-Service Pet Love

Last year JetBlue launched its new pet service called JetPaws, and it has been a hit ever since. JetBlue will provide your pet with his or her own carrier bag tag, two TrueBlue points for each leg of the flight, a welcome e-mail and a free pet travel guide – all for no extra cost! The only down side is that, just like other airlines, JetBlue increased their in-cabin pet charge to cost approximately $75 – $100 each way.

Pets allowed in cabin: Small cats and dogs
Pets allowed as checked baggage: No
Pets allowed in cargo: No

3. AirTran – Budget Friendly

If you have a small pet, then flying them in the cabin with you under the seat is your best option. Pet’s who fly in airline approved carriers that fit under the seat will cost just $69 each way.

Pets allowed in cabin: Small dogs, cats and birds
Pets allowed as checked baggage: No
Pets allowed in cargo: No

4. American Airlines – Zoo-Trusted

The staff at American Airlines who deal with animals and pets in flight are all animal-trained. They have assisted in transporting animals from some of the country’s most popular zoos in the cargo hold of some of their planes. American Airlines only allows a limited number of pets to fly in the cabin and reservations are made on a first come first served basis.

Pets allowed in cabin: Small dogs and cats
Pets allowed as checked baggage: Yes, large dogs and cats
Pets allowed in cargo: Yes

5. United Airlines – Non-Discriminating

If you have a small, unusual pet that you wish to fly with, then United Airlines will be your best bet as they do not discriminate against small pets. In fact, United Airlines will generally accept small cats, dogs and birds in the cabin, and rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs as checked baggage. Other pets and animals such as birds, parrots, and ferrets are allowed to fly in United Cargo.

Pets allowed in cabin: Small cats, dogs and birds
Pets allowed as checked baggage: Depends on the aircraft
Pets allowed in cargo: Yes; however, the type of animal allowed depends on destination and arrival locations

Another airline that is not on the above list is Southwest Airlines. From 17 June 2009, Southwest will be launching a new pet program called P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Welcome on Southwest).

Each flight will allow 5 pets to fly in the cabin with their owners for a fee of $75 each way. There are a few restrictions though! There will be a limit of one pet carrier per person and the carrier will actually count towards a carry-on bag or other carry-on personal item. The carrier will also need to fit under the seat in front of you. Each carrier can contain a maximum of two cats or two dogs but not one of each.

Health certificates and other travel documents are not required for most of pets flying with their owners.

Your pet’s carrier can either be soft sided or hard sided, just as long as it is well ventilated and leak proof. Your pet will also need to be able to stand up and turn around easily inside the carrier.

Remember that each airline will have different restrictions that you will need to abide too prior to your pet flying. When reserving your seat, it is best to reserve a middle seat as they usually have more space underneath them, so your pet’s carrier will have more room as well.

Almost all airlines will have weather and temperature restrictions as well; meaning that they will not allow your pet to fly if the weather is too hot or too cold.

Photo Credit: alexbrn

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