Limit Set for Pets on Planes
ATLANTA (AP) _ Vicky Jenks’ two dogs whined from inside a cage Wednesday as an airport skycap checked them as baggage for a flight to Honolulu.
Had she waited another day, Jenks would have been forced to choose between her dachshunds, Peaches and Jake, and her new job in Hawaii.
``I probably wouldn’t have gone,″ she said. ``I don’t think I could have separated myself from them.″
With new federal rules requiring airlines to report the number of animals killed or injured on flights, several major carriers are refusing to allow pets to be checked as baggage this summer because of dangerous heat in cramped cargo holds.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which carried Jenks and her dogs to Honolulu, will not allow animals to be checked as baggage in June, July and August. United and American have announced similar bans through September.
The carriers said they had the safety of the animals in mind, even if it meant inconveniencing passengers.
``It’s not like you can decide you want to go down to Miami with Fido, and you want to travel in the middle of the day, when the temperature is 100,″ Delta spokesman John Kennedy said. ``That puts the animal at risk.″
The airlines will continue to allow small pets as carry-on luggage, although some charge up to $50. Many airlines also charge a fee, typically about $75, to check animals in cargo holds.
For passengers whose pets are too large to fit under an airplane seat, that leaves one option: paying a professional shipper. That can cost hundreds of dollars, and shippers demand broad flexibility, complicating vacation plans for families that can’t bear to leave pets at home.
In March, Congress approved new rules requiring U.S. airlines to disclose how many traveling pets are killed or injured. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hailed ``a stunning win for animals that must travel by air.″
The Department of Agriculture reported in 1998 that it had documented more than 2,500 cases of dogs and cats ``severely affected″ by extreme temperatures in cargo holds over a five-year span, with 108 deaths. Airlines handle about 500,000 dogs and cats each year.
Northwest Airlines said Wednesday it would continue to allow pets to be checked as baggage this summer unless the temperature exceeds 85 degrees. TWA said it would announce its summer pet policy on Thursday.
Even though she had made Delta’s deadline by a day, Jenks said she was worried about checking the dachshunds in Atlanta, where temperatures crept into the 80s Wednesday.
``I’m still nervous about the flight,″ she said. ``That’s a long time for them to be in the cage.″
On the Net:
Northwest Airlines: http://www.nwa.com
United Airlines: http://www.ual.com
Delta Air Lines: http://www.delta-air.com
American Airlines: http://www.aa.com