Tuesday, March 8, 2016

If you want to fly with your dog or cat, you'll have to meet stricter requirements than ever before, thanks to Delta's new rules. Read on.

On March 1, Delta quietly changed its policies about pet travel. For the first time, the airline has decided to stop accepting animals in the cargo hold, where temperatures can be erratic and dangerous. Instead, anyone looking to travel with their dog, cat, or turkey will need to bring their pet aboard the main cabin in an approved carrier.

The dimensions and approved weight for a carry-on pet vary depending on the plane and flight, but the rule of thumb across the industry stands at 20 pounds—that's your average female French Bulldog or Scottish Terrier, at most.

This past year alone, Delta reported 18 animal-related incidents, most of them deaths, and a few severe injuries. According to the Department of Transportation, American had 7 such incidents, and United had 23; add in regional airlines like SkyWest, Hawaiian, Alaskan, and ExpressJet, and the total climbs to 63. It's for that reason that PETA is celebrating Delta's decision.

Most dog and cat owners will celebrate this decision along with Delta and PETA. But for some, this could signal an end for doggie travel dreams.

Should the industry adopt this standard, taking your Bernese Mountain Dog on an ancestral pilgrimage to the Swiss Alps will go from being a pipe dream to a sheer impossibility; far more importantly, dog and cat owners who are considering moving overseas would have to consider leaving their pets in someone else's permanent care.

Rather than shut down the cargo hold to pet travel, we'd like to challenge airlines to create healthy, sustainable travel conditions for animals so that pets of all shapes and sizes can take adventures alongside their owners—or follow them to new homes wherever their lives might lead.

Not only would it reopen the door for dream trips and practicalities alike, it would also create economic opportunity for fee-loving airlines. After all, a recent study from market research company Ipsos found that 65 percent of dog owners think of their dogs as an ideal travel companion—regardless of whether they fit in a carrier or not.

If you want to fly with your dog or cat, you'll have to meet stricter requirements than ever before, thanks to Delta's new rules. Read on.

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