Pet Travel: Stupid Airline Pet Travel Policies

A study in airline greed and lack of logic


I am a gypsy and I travel around the world. My immediate family consists of myself and my cat, so my cat has seen more of the world than most humans. It is quite difficult to travel the world with a cat, for sure, but as I am not one to just discard family when it is inconvenient, I have learned quite a bit about travelling with animals. It makes it quite difficult to find air tickets with airlines that are pet friendly, what should be a simple process is delayed by much web searching, emailing and phone calls trying to understand the often ridiculous pet policies that airlines have in place and then adding in all the ridiculous fees. Some policies are stupid to the point of embarassing, and after seeing enough of these, I decided to start collecting them here. It will take time to recollect all this info, feel free to send me airlines with outrageous animal policies.

Note that I am talking about taking my pet in the cabin. This requires no cost/work/intervention by the airlines - I have flown many thousands upon thousands of miles with my cat and the airline doesn't need to do anything and often don't even know that she's with me.

The point of an airline is to take money to bring you from point A to point B. While they have every *legal* right to charge based on whatever scheme they want (as a ridiculous example, passengers whose first name starts with "D" must pay a 50EU surcharge), that doesn't make it ethically correct. Here are a list of airlines that are abusing the fact that there are people in the world who need to transport pets and do not have much choice in the matter.

Airlines take note - you may think you're getting an extra 50EU here and there from us pet owners, but you are ignoring the fact that pet owners become very knowledgeable about these charges and many of them, like me, will completely avoid the worst offenders on this list even if we aren't travelling with a pet.

Note: "PETC" is the airline industry code for "Pet in Cabin" (as opposed to in the cargo hold)

The Worst

I won't even list all the airlines that don't even allow pets, as there are too many too count. Sometimes they come around, like Southwest Airlines, who I didn't fly for years because of their no pets policy, and who finally smartened up and are in my rotation now.

The Bad

Airline Rule
Belavia (Belarusa)
  1. Only allows PETC for animals and carriers under 5kg. With a 1 kg carrier, that means your cat must weight under 9 pounds? How many healthy adult cats are that small, and why the requirement??
    A small Maine Coon will weight about 11 pounds, which means their carrier must be made of Helium.
  2. Requires a pet passport listing vaccinations, a vet certificate listing vaccinations, and a Minsk vet certificate listing vaccinations.

Oddly enough, I can't figure out what their fees are. Could they possibly be free??
Norwegian Air PETC only allowed in Nordic countries. Why???
Turkish Airlines Evidently regularly cancels pet reservations. The head of the airline's ground service left this comment in an online discussion: "We give priority to humans. Animals are ENEMY to Turks"
Egypt Air
Saudi Arabia Air
Korean Air
More airlines with 5kg pet+carrier limits. What's with these airlines and their dreams of anorexic pets?
Air France Limit of 4 kg for pet + carrier. You might want to get diet pills for your pet now.
Royal Jordanian 2 animals allowed in the cabin. Unless it's a falcon. Then it's a limit of 10. No, seriously.
Also, charges for the pet in cabin are according to weight, because that makes loads of sense.
Qatar Airlines You thought Royal Jordanian was silly, but Qatar only allows falcons in the cabin.

The Difficult

Airline Rule
Air Baltic Hoping to be the next RyanAir they severely limit the weight of your carry-on even if you're putting it under the seat in front of you (just to make revenue for checked bags), and they weigh your carryon as you try to get on the plane, so there's no way to get on without a PETC reservation (for those of you who have, like me, quiet animals that can often just be brought on planes without anyone ever knowing). Furthermore they require (for what reason?) 48 hours notice that you are bringing a pet. I was stopped because of this, and then they threw my ticket away. Thanks guys!
SAS Scandinavian Airlines This was hard to figure out because their website info on pets is currently broken (2012/06), but there's this delightful gem:
"The pet and container are considered as your hand baggage, no other hand baggage is allowed."
Justification? Pets are required to go under the seat, so why are you not allowed to bring other hand luggage?
Virgin Atlantic Needs a one week advance notice for PETC. Why?
United Airlines As much as I love United and even though they are generally pet friendly, they no longer allow animals in first class or business. Reason?

Furthermore, their charges are some of the higher ones found at $250 for a round trip domestic, often more for international.

Previously Retarded

Airline Rule
Air Berlin Used to only allow pets + carrier under 6kg. Now up to a more reasonable 8kg.
Lufthansa Lufthansa used to charge for PETC animals by the kilogram. That's right, the heavier your pet, the more (substantially) you had to pay. I can't think of a single possible justification for this. Fuel costs? Then if I have to pay 20EU/kg for my cat, then the fat person sitting next to me should be paying at least 10000EU more for their ticket.

Back to my zoo