Tag Archives: airlines

Flying first class

Last week, United Airlines made news for all the wrong reasons…  Did you know that American Airlines has a service on select flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco to New York for passengers traveling first class with their small pet?

If the pet fits into a carrier no larger than 19 inches by 13 inches by 9 inches, then by booking in advance and paying the $125 carry-on fee, the pet can ride in a special pet cabin adjacent to their owner’s seat.

Dog in American Airlines first class

The service is available only on the A321T planes offered on these routes.

For those that can afford first class (and the corresponding reduced risk of ejection if the flight is overbooked, I may add, check the small print on most conditions of carriage in the major airlines), it would be lovely to have your small-breed pet travel with you in comfort.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Virgin Australia’s pet program

It’s fairly common in the USA to have frequent flyer programs for pets.  But did you know that earlier this year Virgin Australia launched that country’s first pet frequent flyer program?

Photo courtesy of Virgin Australi

Photo courtesy of Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia’s pet program adds bonus points to the air miles that passengers receive when they are members of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program.

Red members (the entry level) earn an extra 300 points each time they fly with one pet carrier. Silver, Gold and Platinum members earn more points per flight.  Platinum members earn 600 points per flight per pet carrier, for example.

Well done to Virgin Australia for recognising travelers who need to travel with their dog!

Protecting pets on US flights

The US Department of Transportation has proposed a strengthening of regulations involving the transport of animals on airplanes.

The proposal would require 36 airlines to report companion animal incidents that happen in the cargo holds of their planes.  Currently, only 15 airlines are required to submit annual reports.  Carriers also would have to report the number of animal losses, injuries and deaths and the total number of animals transported each year.

The Humane Society of the United States has endorsed the proposal.  The Society regularly receives complaints about animals who are injured in cargo holds or – worse – die.  Animals transported as cargo are exposed to excessive temperatures (hot and cold) and rough handling.  There have been reports of poor ventilation and lack of oxygen, too.

Another significant change is that the regulations also would apply to dogs and cats being shipped for commercial sale. With an upsurge in online sales, particularly of dogs,  many operators of inhumane commercial breeding facilities (puppy mills) transport dogs to pet stores and to new owners via airplanes.

Inga Fricke, the Director of Sheltering and Pet Care Issues for the Humane Society says  “We applaud the Department of Transportation for proposing to expand this rule because it will keep dogs and cats safer on planesRequiring stronger reporting requirements of airline carriers will force carriers to better handle animals during transport, providing the oversight needed. It would also give consumers clarity when choosing an animal friendly airline, and travelers would be able to compare carriers’ rates of animal deaths and injuries.”

Dog friendly shopping in Colorado

****This is a re-print of my column that appeared in the December 2010 issue of NZ Dog World magazine.  Since that magazine is currently available to NZ Kennel Club members only, I’m re-publishing it here because it is a topic I’m passionate about.****

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I thought I’d share my experience of dog-friendly shopping in the state of Colorado, where I recently traveled for my business.

Colorado is a state that clearly values the companionship of dogs.  They were everywhere:  in trucks, cars and – unlike New Zealand – they were welcomed in many shops and public shopping areas.   On my flight from San Francisco to Denver, there was even a passenger who had a small dog in a carrier.  (Many U.S. airlines now allow small dogs into the cabin as carry-on luggage.)[1]

I wished my Daisy could have traveled with me to enjoy the sites (but she wouldn’t have appreciated the long flight or the required three-month quarantine on our return to New Zealand).

Dogs welcome

Dog owners could easily identify shops where their dog would be allowed to enter.  These shops displayed a Dogs Welcome logo in their window.  Interestingly, these shops sold clothing and footwear for people and were not just pet stores.  An outdoor mall in Castle Rock went a step further by providing grassed park areas and dispensers of plastic bags for dogs to have a ‘comfort stop.’

Other shops made up their own signs, such as one retailer whose sign proclaimed, “Four Legged Friends Welcome.”

I asked a shop attendant if they get many shoppers accompanied by their dogs.  She replied, “Yes.  Lots.  Particularly on weekends when people who work all week want to be out with their pet.”

Dog rest stops

I noticed that many communities welcomed dogs in their shopping areas by providing bowls of water for passing dogs to drink from.  I quickly became accustomed to seeing these ‘dog rest stops’ in virtually every town that we visited.

Rest stops varied in style and offerings.  Some were simply a single water bowl or raised water bowls.   Pet shops would often include extras, such as a bench for owners to sit in.  In Manitou Springs, a popular tourist destination at the foot of Pike’s Peak (elevation 4,800 m), a sweet shop provided vending machines with dog treats.  For 25 cents, a passing dog owner could purchase a handful of treats.

Good behaviour required

In all of the communities I visited, dogs and owners acted responsibly.  There was never a pile of poo left on the footpath and dogs didn’t jump on passers-by.  Responsible dog ownership is clearly essential for communities to embrace dog-friendly shopping.

And so, I leave you with good wishes for the summer holiday season and encourage you to think:  Is dog-friendly shopping appropriate for New Zealand and, if so, what will it take to get dog-friendly shopping established here?


[1] The dog carrier is considered the single piece of carry-on luggage for the owner; the dog must have current vaccinations and is not allowed out of the carrier during the flight.

Additional photos of my trip can be found in this blog post.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

North America’s most pet-friendly airlines

As most of you know, I’m a big supporter of traveling with your dog when on holiday/vacation and I encourage you to support pet-friendly shops and accommodation providers in your area.

Petfinder.com recently released its findings for 2011’s most pet-friendly airlines.  This year, the site extended its coverage to Canada so it is now ranking airlines that service North America.

Petfinder reviewed airlines in the following categories:

  • what airline is most pet-friendly overall

Winner:  Pet Airways – a dedicated airline for transporting pets

  • offers the best amenities for pets and their parents

Winner:  JetBlue – for the 2nd year in a row.  JetBlue provides travelers with a pet carrier baggage tag, a travel “petiquette” guide, 300 TrueBlue points each way, and a comprehensive e-booklet with pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks and animal hospitals in some of JetBlue’s major cities.

  • best in offering transport to a variety of pets

Winner:   Frontier Airlines because they allow dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small birds in the cabin

  • best for flying multiple pets in the cabin

Winner:  Frontier Airlines, which allows up to 10 pet containers on each flight. Only one pet container is allowed per person, but the limit per flight means that multiple friends/relatives can travel with animals so the entire family arrives at its destination together

  • best service for large sized pets

Winner:  Pet Airways, the maximum height for a pet carried by the airline is 34 inches.  This allows for large sized breeds like Newfoundlands and Great Danes to fly.

All pet-friendly airlines which made the ranking were required to have zero pet deaths in the past reported year according to official government reports.