Pets-on-plane policy ruffles feathers
The Denver Post
Southwest Airline’s new pets-in-the-cabin policy has brought howls of protest from people concerned about allergies, onboard barking and smelly conditions.
The low-cost carrier began taking reservations Monday for travel with small dogs and cats on or after June 17. The cost is $75 each way.
“I have a granddaughter who has a big problem with asthma, and she can’t even breathe around a dog,” said Marlene Sanders of Golden.
Pat Anderson of Littleton agreed, saying she is allergic to cats. “They are catering to the Paris Hiltons of the world,” Anderson said. “When do we start paying attention to people and not the bottom line?”
Southwest, the No. 3 carrier at Denver International Airport, has heard the same comments, which spokesman Chris Mainz said “were not something we had heard prior to rolling out” the policy.
“We will quickly make accommodations if a pet is causing any disruption in flight,” Mainz said. “This is similar to the peanut allergy, and we do have experience in accommodating customers.”
Mainz said he was surprised by the reactions, noting Southwest is one of the last airlines to offer the in-cabin option.
American, United, Delta and JetBlue are among those charging $100 to $150 for Fido or Fluffy to fly.
Like Southwest, United allows small pets in containers that are stowed under the seat in front of the passenger.
Problems “don’t seem to come up often,” said United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski. If a passenger objects to sitting near a pet, the person is re-seated, and the number of pets is limited depending on the plane’s size.
American Airlines, which flies about 100,000 dogs and cats annually, also tries to accommodate everyone.
“We don’t guarantee our flights are allergy-free, or fragrance-free or there hasn’t been an animal there,” said American spokesman Tim Smith. “We work with people, or move them, but it really has not been a big, big problem.”
Denver-based Frontier Airlines booked pets on board before changing the policy last year.
“We wanted to be respectful of people who didn’t have pets or may have allergies,” said spokesman Steve Snyder. “We still are able to offer the option of shipping them” in the pressurized cargo hold.
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