Flying With Pets: Which Airlines are Best?

Last week’s American Airlines puppy disaster has prompted an evaluation of how airlines treat and handle pets. The airline has been blamed for the death of seven puppies, all of which were stored in the aircraft’s pressurized and temperature regulated cargo hold. It’s raised some serious questions for those of us that prefer to travel with pets, most obviously – which airline treats animals safely?

American Airlines has spoken directly to several media outlets, claiming that it recommends owners of short-nosed animals such as puppies or young kittens avoid flying with their pets. Due to changes in pressure and temperature while at air, many animals can develop breathing problems while in the storage area of a commercial airliner, leading to discomfort and occasional death.

Surprisingly, it was low-cost airline JetBlue that topped recent polls of satisfaction amongst travel gurus and pet owners. The survey, carried out by online pet website, covered major commercial airlines throughout the United States. JetBlue was ranked highly due to its treatment of animals and limited fees for small household pets, particularly cats and dogs.

Taking a slightly less convenient first place was PetAirways, a speciality airline built for pet owners and animal breeders. The airline does not offer travel to humans, instead housing only animals in its fleet of specially designed and furnished planes. Animals travelling on the airline are granted toilet breaks and individual caged areas inside the plane’s primary cabin.

While the levels of comfort on offer inside a PetAirways cabin are unparalleled, they do come at a significantly higher price to that offered on standard commercial airlines. Animal organisations are treating JetBlue as the airline of choice for household pets and smaller animals, giving the airline a recommendation for its humane treatment and spotless animal safety record.