Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Airlines Pooh Pooh Pets On Planes: Raising Fees & Banning Travel

/PRNewswire/ -- Airlines seem to be waging war on passengers who carry pets in the cabin, judging by a recent rash of fee hikes and new rules. And a recent airfarewatchdog.com poll reveals that 58 percent of respondents believe that pets should be allowed in the cabin, while 42 percent would ban them entirely. The founder of airfarewatchdog, George Hobica, wonders if the airlines are sending a message by raising both in-cabin and cargo fees, and in some cases by banning pet travel entirely.

Hobica notes that "an estimated 63 percent of American households own pets, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, and an even larger percentage fly commercially. So these higher fees and tougher rules will be a burden on pet owners who travel and wish to carry their pets in the cabin for safety and other reasons."

Airfarewatchdog points out some reasons why flying your pet may become not just more difficult, but also as expensive as flying an additional person:

-- Frontier Airlines banned pets from the cabin on June 9th this past
summer and now charges up to $400 to fly pets in the cargo hold.

-- Delta and American Airlines have recently raised their in-cabin pet
fee to $300 - up from $200 previously.

-- United has raised its in-cabin fee to an industry-leading $350, and
$500 for cargo.

-- For years, Southwest Airlines, one of the nation's largest, has banned
pets entirely except for fully trained assistance animals accompanying
a person with a disability or being delivered to one.

Quips Hobica, "At $350 a trip, we might be better off enrolling Browser, our canine mascot, in some hang gliding courses, or - if the fees keep going up - tie some helium balloons to the kennel, toss in a tracking device and hope for the best. His chances of an on-time arrival couldn't be any worse than on some airlines."

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