Airlines treat flying felines differently


September 17, 2006|By New York Times News Service

My wife and I fly each year with our cat to the South of France from Florida. Delta and Air France let us take the cat in the cabin. American, however, requires that it stay in the cargo bay for the trans-Atlantic leg.

Airlines have different requirements about transporting pets. Air France ( and its code-share partner Delta ( allow cats and dogs up to about 11 pounds to travel in the cabin. Larger animals are consigned to the hold.

American Airlines ( does not accept carry-on pets on Hawaii flights, trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flights or Central and South America flights. I would suggest that when making this trip you avoid American and fly Air France-Delta from Miami to Nice via Paris. This would allow you to keep your cat with you.

As for other airlines, United ( allows small dogs or cats to travel under the seat in a container; larger animals including guide dogs are consigned to the hold. British Airways (britishair requires pets other than guide dogs to be checked in as excess baggage, but they do get to travel in a heated or air-conditioned section of the hold and are taken to the plane by ground staff.

Virgin Atlantic (, which transports pets in a separate temperature-controlled part of the hold, collects pets individually at check-in and makes sure the animals are supplied with water during the trip.

One reader, Margot Homburg Park in Phuket, Thailand, recommends that pet owners try to fly KLM via Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, where animals will be taken to an animal hotel and fed, walked and watered, and their cages will be cleaned, before reboarding. KLM charges excess baggage rates for transporting a pet.

Despite stricter air-travel security measurers put in place this month, it's pretty much business as usual regarding flying with pets. Your pet and its container, however, may be required to pass through an X-ray machine in addition to a metal detector even though the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's guidelines say pets "will never be placed through an X-ray machine." Check with your carrier before arriving at the airport.

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