Alaska Airlines, which received unwanted publicity for its high number of animal deaths and injuries over the last few years, recently changed its pet policy and—thank goodness—no longer accepts Brachycephalic or “short-nosed” animals in the cargo compartment. Effective Dec. 4, 2014, the Alaska Airlines pet policy will also require health certificates for animals traveling as baggage.
I know the ban on certain breeds is difficult for some of you pet parents, but, trust me, it’s better for you and your furry friend in the long run. According to the Seattle Times, since 2010, at least 62 animals died or were lost or hurt while traveling on Alaska Airlines, a tally that makes the Seattle-based company one of the nation’s leading carriers for reported pet mishaps in recent years.
In 2013, Alaska Airlines’ eight animal deaths were second to United Airlines’ nine while its 11 animal injuries accounted for the 15 total for all U.S. carriers. As I wrote in February when the statistics were released in the U.S. Department of Transportation Air Travel Consumer Report, several of the dogs that died on Alaska were bulldogs.
Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me that Alaska Airlines is finally getting with the program. After all, this is the airline that touts its Fur-st Class Care and partnered with Banfield Pet Hospital a few years ago to offer free office visits for pawsengers. The new Alaska Airlines pet policy bans from the cargo section the following breeds and mixed breeds thereof:
Dogs: American Pit Bull, American Staffordshire Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Bull Mastiff, Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Chow Chow, Dutch Pug, English Bulldog, English Toy Spaniel, French Bulldog, Japanese Boxer, Japanese Pug, Japanese Spaniel, Pekingese, Pug, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Cats: Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, Persian.
Alaska Airlines now includes on its website:
Brachycephalic or “short-nosed” dogs and cats are not accepted for travel in the cargo compartment on Alaska Airlines flights (including flights operated by Horizon, SkyWest, or PenAir). Veterinary experts say that short-nosed animals commonly have abnormalities that can compromise their breathing. Stress associated with flight can make those conditions worse.
Alaska Airlines pet policy flip flops
Originally, Alaska Airlines had gone overboard in changing its pet policy and was all set to begin requiring a health certificate not just for animals traveling as cargo but for in-cabin pets as well, beginning Dec. 4, 2014. This was how the Alaska Airlines pet policy recently read on its website:
However, the airlines quickly changed that and will not require in-cabin pets to have a health certificate. The new Alaska Airlines pet policy states:
Effective December 4, 2014: All pets traveling in the cargo compartment on Alaska Airlines, (including flights operated by Horizon, SkyWest and PenAir) will be required to have a health certificate dated within 10 days of outbound travel and 30 days of return travel. A health certificate will not be required for pets traveling in the cabin, however, many states have specific importation health and vaccination requirements. It is recommended to contact the State Veterinarian at your destination prior to travel to determine necessary documentation (such as health and cold weather acclimation certificates) and vaccination requirements.
I contacted Alaska Airlines to find out why the change with in-cabin pets and received the following email reply:
We removed that requirement for now and are reevaluating our policies on requiring a health certificate, so that it doesn’t inconvenience our passengers. A good rule of thumb would be to remind your viewers/readers to check alaskaair.com for updates prior to traveling with their pets on Alaska Airlines.
It’s a little bothersome that “for now” the requirement is removed. As of now, no U.S. airlines require a health certificate for pets traveling in cabin. Let’s hope that Alaska Airlines does not decide to do it again.