Alerting all pet owners: If you have to fly somewhere with your pet this summer, you'd better check with the airlines first.
are putting the clamps
down on Fido
By Rosemarie Bernardo
Most U.S. airlines have banned pets as check-in baggage during the summer to protect them from the heat.
In the past, animals have died on airplanes, said Joe Hopkins, spokesman for United Airlines.
The travel ban of pets in baggage varies for each airline, ranging from several months to year-round. In most cases, airlines will allow pets to fly in the passenger cabins, but in limited numbers and only if they are small animals (usually about 15 pounds and under).
Hopkins said the pet embargo for the airlines was initiated in June 2000 to ensure the safety of animals.
Last month, Dan Garton, executive vice president of customer services of American Airlines, said, "Due to high temperatures throughout our system, this restriction on pets is put into effect to protect their health and welfare."
However, exceptions are made for pet owners in the military and government personnel who are ordered to fly nationally or to and from Hawaii, said Hopkins. Also, blind persons accompanied by seeing-eye dogs are exempted from the embargo.
Veterinarian Roger Kondo of the Honolulu Pet Clinic recommends pets should be taken to a vet to check if they have any heart or respiratory problems before traveling. Animals susceptible to heat should not be given tranquilizers because it can create respiratory problems, said Kondo.
"It can affect their breathing," he said. "They can't dissipate their heat because dogs don't sweat."
"It's like you're in a sauna and you fall asleep," Kondo said. Pug-nose dogs such as bulldogs and Pekingese are more susceptible to heat. Moreover, obese animals are heat-sensitive, he added.
Flight delays could cause serious harm for animals kept in the baggage area, he added. "People who are going to travel with big dogs should have second thoughts," said Kondo.
For those who are transporting a pet during the summer months, Kondo said to make sure there is no delay in meeting their pet in the baggage area.
Airlines with a pet embargo through check-in baggage:
>> American Airlines has stopped pet travel for all mainland flights until Sept. 15. However, pets may travel through cargo if the temperature does not exceed 85 degrees.
>> Continental Airlines has a year-round pet embargo. No pets are allowed in the cabin on Hawaii flights.
>> United Airlines has implemented a year-round pet embargo. United will allow one pet in first class and one pet in coach.
>> Trans World Airlines has established a year-round pet embargo. TWA will allow one pet in first class and two pets in coach.
>> Delta Air Lines embargoed pet travel through Sept. 15. Delta will allow one pet in first class and two pets in coach.
>> Hawaiian Airlines embargoed pet travel through Oct. 15 to and from Las Vegas. Hawaiian will allow two pets in first class and five pets in coach.
>> Northwest Airlines embargoed pets from Hawaii flights through Sept. 15 to and from Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Las Vegas, Texas and Monterrey, Mexico. Whether pets are allowed in cabins varies for each aircraft.