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Contact: Sarah Appleton

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Jet Set Pets™ are Grounded for the Summer

As Airlines Enforce Tough Travel Restrictions

Every day we receive questions from people who are frustrated by the airlines' restrictions on summer pet travel — regulations that have effectively curbed pet air travel until mid-September. We recently spoke with Bardi McLennon, an author of multiple dog breed and training books and an animal advocate. She told us that many pet professionals have been working for years to convince airlines to restrict summer air travel for pets. This is for very good reason.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, air travel and pets are not compatible. This is especially true for a pug-nosed pet that can experience breathing difficulties at altitude. Flying also puts unnecessary stress on any animal. We have always recommended flying as the option of last choice. It might be appropriate if you are traveling for a month, but not for a long weekend. Pets don't enjoy the change in routine and can experience stress when entering a new or unfamiliar environment.

We contacted a variety of professional pet transportation companies and the airlines to get the inside scoop on airline restrictions. There is a distinct possibility that the airlines might soon require traveling pets to be shipped through one of accredited pet transport companies. This is a very expensive proposition that up until now was used by corporations when transferring their employees. The company picks up the cost, which ranges between $700 and $1,200 each way. If professional transportation becomes the only option, it will effectively ground vacationing pets.

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Jet Set Pets are Grounded
Airlines Enforce Tough Summer Pet Travel Restrictions

The following question best exemplifies the concerns of the people who want to fly with their pet:

We want to fly this summer with our dog. We've noticed that airlines are restricting pets from traveling between June 15 and September 15. Why is this rule in place when they put them in a cargo area that is pressurized and cooled? Secondly, is there a way around this rule?

Airlines do have pressurized cabins for pets; however, it is their ground experience that is cause for concern during extreme hot and cold periods of the year.

Airlines do place restrictions on summer and winter travel, as they should. The restrictions are in place because pets do not go directly from one controlled environment to another. They often have to sit on the tarmac waiting to be loaded, or they must wait for the luggage to be removed before being taken to the terminal at their destination. The heat emanating from the cement surface, coupled with the heat from the engines of the planes, can easily kill an animal in just a short time.

A responsible airline will place this restriction on pet travel, and while there are exceptions, we wouldn't trust an airline that hasn't put some thought into the comfort and safety issues regarding pet transportation.

While these restrictions are in place, travelers can still call the airline and speak to a supervisor about the possibility of booking a night flight with an early morning arrival as this is often the coolest time to travel. The airline, at its discretion, can choose to make an exception to their rule, but I wouldn't count on it.

There are a number of agencies that control pet transportation:

USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Air Transport Association (ATA)

If you must ship your pet as cargo, contact the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International. They have a list of IPATA members. Keep in mind that they must comply with the summer restrictions; however, if there are exceptions to be made, a professional pet shipper may be your only choice.

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