The combination of a slow travel season and a down economy have led to some incredible fares. For example, with United flying for the weekend between San Francisco and Los Angeles costs about $139 with two weeks notice. Want to travel from San Francisco to New York? There are round-trip fares under $300.
But want to bring your cat or small dog along? Add another $350 round-trip. Yes, $350! That’s $175 each way. Across the country or across the state. And that’s for a small animal in a case that fits under the seat in front of you. If your pet needs to go in cargo it’s $250 each way.
It’s not that other airlines are much better. Delta charges $150 each way. American, JetBlue and US Airways (as of now) charge the relatively bargain price of $100 for in-cabin pets. And cargo rates are higher, although US Airways, which has hubs in the hot-weather cities of Las Vegas and Phoenix, will not accept checked pets. (Southwest sidesteps the whole issue by not allowing pets at all.)
I understand that airlines need to make a profit. But charging more for a 10-pound cat than a 200-pound human does seem more than a bit ridiculous. And pets don’t drink sodas or wait in line for the limited lavatories. Nor do they throw tantrums or get drunk. Or for that matter, hog the armrests!
And yes, I know some travelers are allergic to animals. But some people are allergic to perfume, and that’s not banned on planes. In the same vein, traveling next to someone whose clothes and hair reek of cigarette smoke can be a problem. Ditto sitting next to a passenger with a bad cold or other illness who didn’t change their flight because of the change fees involved.
Besides, the rules state that animals must remain in their under-seat kennels for the duration of the flight, although I have heard of that rule being broken.
In any case, it seems like a fair solution might be to say that an in-cabin pet pays no more than their human owner.
Fair? Yes. Likely? Probably not.