Why Do Airlines Hate Pets So Much?

Travel News — By Candice Walsh on March 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

Your beloved pet is probably worth more than $50, right? Tell that to Delta Airlines who’s only paying that amount for unintentionally killing someone’s hairless kitten.

The cause of death was a door latch malfunction in 10-degree weather, preventing workers from reaching the kitten before it froze to death. The kitten’s owner, Heather Lombardi, was also refunded her flight…but only after she had already been promised $2900 for the cat, reimbursement of vet bills and even the expense of storing the body in a freezer until the ground thaws out enough for burial. A Delta representative said talks about cargo reimbursement are still ongoing.

Alright, so it’s not a human being, but it seems a little cold (no pun intended) to hand over $50 to a woman to take care of her dead cat. Nice flying with you too, Delta.

This sounds an awfully lot like the mysterious deaths of seven out of 14 puppies traveling on an American Airlines flight in August 2010. While it’s been determined that the most likely cause of death was long flight delays and the puppies being overheated, there’s little or no information about how American Airlines handled the ordeal. They did, however, release a long list of suggestions for putting your pets on flights, like “book animals during moderate weather” and “avoid holidays and weekends.” Yes, because that’s convenient.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 133 animals have died via air over the last 5 years, the highest numbers going to Continental Airlines, American Airlines and Delta.

Image: flickr/Tomi Tapio

The best solution? Fork over the extra cash to let your pet fly with you in the cabin. It’s safer in the long run, and your pet will probably be less stressed from being alone in a cargo hold of a noisy aircraft. Unfortunately, this is only available for small to medium-sized pets. Your hefty 200-lb Dane will have to travel some other way.

A positive spin on the whole ordeal is that some airlines are looking for alternative ways to prevent this from ever happening again. In fact, Companion Air is set to start operating soon, and no dog will be turned away. They’ll travel in cabin, with you, but inside a kennel at the back of the plane. Great compromise, right? Down with animal discrimination!


Tags: airlines and pets, Companion Air, Delta kills hairless cat, flying pets, transporting pets

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