Folks across the United States are getting ready to travel with their pet. As families begin to gear up for the most wonderful time of the year, they may want to take into consideration their pet's safety while flying. Although uncommon, a small number of airline-related pet deaths have been reported over the past ten years. Airlines are required to report these cases to the Department of Transportation (DOT). According to the DOT, there were a total of 19 cases, 11 of which were pet deaths. The following year, the number decreased to a total of ten cases, six being pet deaths. Although these numbers are low, this statistic does not reflect the entire story. Six families lost a loved one on an everyday flight. Six pet passengers boarded a flight and never landed.
Here are some things to take into consideration when flying with your pet:
Anxiety and Stress
Most pets don’t understand what is going on while in the cargo container or carrier on board. They are in an unfamiliar setting with new sounds. Pets who find themselves in cargo don’t have the comfort of having their human companion nearby. Loud noises of a jet plane engine or even suitcases and other miscellaneous goods shifting can trigger an anxiety or panic attack. A pet’s heart rate will elevate during this mode. This can go on for hours depending on the length of a flight. Pets can then experience further complications from the attack once they are reunited with their family on the ground.
The woman who created the Facebook group, United Airlines Almost Killed My Greyhound, reported abuse while her family pet was in their care. Her greyhound, Sedona, was not allowed time to use the bathroom and was not given food or water. She claims Sedona almost died on the flight. She is not alone. Other folks have come forward with stories of pet mistreatment aboard various airlines. Do your research and see the recent reports of the airline you and your family would be flying.
The Humane Society recommends reconsideration of bringing your brachycephalic pet along. These pets already have difficulty breathing due to their short nasal passages. They are vulnerable to heatstroke and oxygen deprivation. Check with your veterinarian before booking your pet’s flight.
Taking all these things into consideration, we advise folks to travel with their pet in a carrier onboard a plane when possible. This way of travel, however, does not guarantee a pet’s safety. Back in 2018, United made headlines when a pet bulldog was placed in an overhead bin and died during the flight. Always stay vigilant and keep an eye on your pet. Ensure the carrier will fit underneath the seat of the plane to avoid any complications. Research any information about the airline you will be traveling with and double-check the carrier dimensions. If possible, we recommend either boarding your pet or traveling by car or train.