Economics Personal

Pets and Airlines : Not So Friendly Skies

Pet owners, according to most American airlines, have deep pockets. How else to explain the exorbitant fees they charge so that you can substitute your one carry-on bag for a bag that contains your small dog or cat? And the oligopolistic nature of the business comes through loud and clear when you examine the variance (or lack thereof) in the in-cabin pet fees.

It was not that long ago (say a couple of years) that pet fees were $50 to $75. Now they are almost universally $125. Each way. Notable exceptions: regional airlines AirTran, Frontier and Southwest. And in-cabin pets get no frequent flier points!

Read on for pet and baggage fees (domestic flights) for the major U.S. airlines: AA, AirTran, Alaska, Continental, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, United and US Air.

Airline In-Cabin Pet Fees Checked Pet Fees Baggage Fees
AA $125 each way $175 each way $25, $30, $100
AirTran $69 each way  n/a $20, $25 (2 only?)
Alaska $100 each way $100 each way $20/bag, 1st three
Continental $125 each way call for info $25, $35, $100
Delta $125 each way $200 each way $25, $35 (2 only?)
Frontier $75 each way n/a $20, $30, $50
JetBlue $100 each way n/a 1st free, $35 for 2nd
Southwest $75 each way n/a 1st two free, then $50
United $125 each way $250 each way $25, $35 (2 only?)
US Air $100 each way n/a $25, $35, $125, $200

Keep this chart handy the next time you are price-shopping for airline tickets, especially if you are flying with a pet.. Had I had it in hand last month, I would have flown AirTran to Georgia instead of Delta. (AirTran makes the flight seasonally and I tend to forget about them. Even at this late date, we could fly for $100 less — even before the pet fees — if we were on AirTran.)

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By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

2 replies on “Pets and Airlines : Not So Friendly Skies”

I sympathize with people with allergies – my husband is severely allergic to shellfish – however if you are asking me to check my pet (whom I consider a family member) like he is baggage and vulnerable to unsafe weather conditions, sorry, I cannot and will not do that. Flying is a privilege, not a “right,” therefore anyone choosing to fly is taking a risk and exposing him or herself to all kinds of allergens – not just pets, so you should take all the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe. That is not everyone else’s responsibility. Incidentally, we are all at much greater risk sitting next to a child (or adult) who has some type of virus or infection.

Better yet, be considerate of people with allergies (many of whose are much more severe than mine) and don’t take your pets into the passenger cabin. People with animal allergies cannot escape that toxic environment the way they could leave a home they hadn’t known contained a pet. An allergic person can have a reaction in their airways even without coming into contact with the pet or even being very close to it. For more information on pet allergies, please see the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – (horrid URL, isn’t it? :).

Thank you!

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