To the animal lover, a pet is very much another member of the family. So, it’s no surprise then that vacations are a source of great stress when deciding how to handle the care of the family pet. Most pets are left at home under the care of a friend, a dog sitter, or are put in a kennel until the owners return. But in cases where leaving an animal home is not an option, or the family can’t bear to part with their pet while away, the only solution may be to get an extra ticket for their furry friend. So what are the best airlines to travel with your pets? We’re about to find out!
Flying with your pet in-cabin
By far, the most reassuring option for animal owners is to keep their pets in-cabin with them. Many airlines offer the ability for you to travel with your precious animal stowed safety in the space in front of you. Most major U.S. airlines allows small domestic cats and dogs to travel with their owners next to them.
In addition, flying with in-cabin pets is often the cheapest way to travel. Many airlines charge as little as $100 for in-cabin pets, with some of the best including Alaska Airlines, Jet Blue, and Virgin America. Interested in lower prices still? Air Canada flies their small furry passengers for just $50, Delta starts at $75, and South West Airlines at $95.
While all the airlines mentioned provide great service, two have gone the extra mile to make sure their passenger’s pets are cared for. American Airlines has first class cabins for small cats and dogs, a program they call the “Cuddle Class.” If you’re traveling from LA and San Francisco to NYC, pets can enjoy a special compartment next to their owner’s seats that cost just the same as the standard $125 pet fee. Alaska Airlines has also implemented a Fur-st™ Class Care promise to all of their pet owners that insists upon the safe transport of their four-legged passengers.
© Matt Chan
Flying with you pet below cabin
In recent years, many airlines no longer are accepting pets as checked baggage, in an attempt to prevent pet deaths on flights. However for owners of larger or restricted animals, finding an airline that still allows the best care possible to their animals below cabin is most likely the only option. When it comes to below cabin travel, even more caution must be taken to ensure a safe arrival of the animals.
Often, below cabin and cargo options for pets are more expensive due to the size and weight of the animals required to stay below. Once again Alaska Airlines offers the most competitive prices, starting at $100. They also update pet owners once the animals are safely onboard. Alaska Airlines also have the ability to offer their customers a $10 discount on their pet health certificate that is required before pets can take flight.
United Airlines also has a great way of reassuring their pet owners that their animals are safe in the hold. They have a feature called PetSafe®, a pet tracking solution that lets owners check up on their animals as they travel. Delta’s Variation Live® program also utilized GPS on-demand services to measure temperatures, see light levels, and mark the exact location of animals in real time in the event you and your pet must travel separately.
© KOMU News
The Bottom Line
In the end, it’s up to you as the owner, your pet, and your destination to decide what the best airline is for you and your friend. Have a little domestic furry friend? One of the airlines that allows on-board pet travel is going to be your best bet. And if you’re traveling from California to NYC, take advantage of American Airlines’ Cuddle Class so your pet gets the same great treatment as their wonderful owner. Is your friend a little larger, or one of the restricted animals? Alaska Airlines takes extra caution to take great care of their animals traveling below in the cargo, so you can be sure your pet will make it to their destination safely and in good health. And if you and your pet are traveling separately, definitely utilize United Airlines’ GPS tracking service so you and your extended family member can be together in spirit as you reach your destination.
© David Gorla