One of two dogs traveling together in a kennel died during an American Airlines flight. During a Horizon Air flight, luggage fell on a kennel containing a cat, bloodying the feline in the cargo hold. A dog traveling in Alaska Airlines’ baggage compartment escaped from its kennel, was discovered loose in a baggage cart then ran for over an hour before being caught. These are just some of the risks that occur when checking pets as baggage, which is one reason Frontier Airlines changed its pet policy last month and no longer accepts live animals as cargo or checked baggage.
The three unfortunate incidents on American, Horizon Air and Alaska airlines occurred in October, according to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report released today. They serve as a reminder that safety remains a huge concern when transporting pets anywhere except in the cabin. Checking pets as baggage is dangerous and shouldn’t be done unless absolutely necessary, recommends The Humane Society of the United States. For alternatives, read the post “How to avoid the pain of Maggie Rizer” and subscribe to The Jet Set Pets newsletter to keep abreast of the latest options such as Jumpjet.
Airlines are required to file monthly reports regarding incidents involving the loss, injury or death of animals during air transportation to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The reports are available online and we think anyone considering checking pets as baggage should examine several months of reports before booking their pet.
The airlines aren’t always at fault. Sometimes unhealthy pets are transported and can’t survive the flight. And sometimes a cause of death isn’t stated, despite a necropsy (animal autopsy) being performed. And sometimes the reports state when an airline errs.
In the case of the Horizon Air flight, the incident was described as follows:
Upon arrival into Bellingham, WA on flight 2490 from SEA, the ground service agents opened up the cargo pit and when they were offloading they noticed that all the bags had fallen forward onto the kennel and the top corner of the kennel had broke. The agents brought the kennel inside to the cargo customer picking up the cat and she said that there was blood all over the cat and kennel. The agents immediately called over the radio for a Supervisor who took pictures of the broken kennel and the cat’s paws.
The report shows the cause was:
We take preventative measures by training all ground service employees of proper and safe handling of animals. The airline has researched this incident have found the loading of the cargo kennel was done correctly. The cause of the damage may have been caused by turbulence which caused the shifting of the kennel.
We understand turbulence can shift items. It is time airlines make a shift and find a way to transport pets safer if they continue to allow passengers to check pets as baggage.
Frontier takes pet safety seriously
The Jet Set Pets applauds Frontier Airlines for its decision to stop accepting live animals (including live tropical fish) for transport as cargo and checked baggage, effective Nov. 1, 2012.
“Frontier goes to great lengths to protect live animals,” spokesperson Kate Simpson wrote in an email to The Jet Set Pets. “Temperature extremes and animal injuries are two things with which we need to be concerned. The Company has decided that the liability of having even one injured animal on Frontier’s watch is too great. Pets will still be allowed to fly inside the cabin, provided their travel kennel can fit underneath the aircraft seat.”
Frontier joins JetBlue, Southwest, Virgin America and several other airlines as only allowing in-cabin pets to travel. We know this makes it harder on pet parents wanting to bring their medium and large furry friends on trips since the pet-only airlines Pet Airways ceased operations, but pet safety should be the number one priority.