Lost pets and deaths have moved some airlines to change their policies
By Vjosa Isai
Do you travel with your pet?
The festive transformation of storefront windows and winter drink menus are already in motion, signaling this year’s holiday season is upon us once again. While it may be too soon for Christmas shopping, anyone thinking of a holiday getaway would benefit from an early start to planning, especially if you’re bringing along a furry friend.
Airlines have pet policies in place to designate which animals are permitted in the cabin versus cargo hold, a vital consideration for pet owners. These guidelines are often based on the pet’s weight, age, carrier size, and whether the flight is international or domestic.
Breed is also a major consideration. Some airlines, including WestJet, recommend that travelers with snub-nose (or brachycephalic) pets consult with a veterinarian before flying. According to WestJet’s pet policies, “These types of pets suffer from respiratory problems that increase with stress and heat, and may not be suitable for travel in checked baggage.”
Credit: Shutterstock.com / @jax10289
Unfortunately, the whole experience of traveling with your pet can be rendered much more stressful with airlines that don’t allow pets in the cabin (British Airways, Emirates, Air Asia, Air New Zealand, or Qantas to name a few, although some make exceptions for service animals). This restriction can force a pet owner’s hand at making a decision that may leave them ill-at-ease during the flight, knowing their pet is in a pressurized and cooler-temperature part of the plane, with no access to them for the duration of the flight.
But is this fear warranted?
“Traveling in cargo isn’t necessarily unsafe,” said Get Leashed Magazine’s veterinarian-in-residence, Dr. Sheldon. “If it’s a onetime thing, and you’re flying internationally and this is the only way, flying your pet in cargo is most likely going to be safe.”
However, Dr. Sheldon strongly suggests avoiding having your pet in the cargo hold for for more frequent trips, saying it could increase health risks to your pet.
“If it’s constant type of travel, I would never suggest you bringing your pet back and forth in cargo. You’re increasing the risk and your pet would be much better off left in someone’s care instead.”