The days of checking both your suitcase and your pet are coming to an end.
Delta Air Lines announced that effective March 1, the airline will no longer accept pets as checked baggage unless the passenger either requires a service or emotional support animal or is a military member with active transfer orders.
After Delta’s new pet policy goes into effect, American Airlines will be the sole U.S.-based airline to permit pets to fly as checked baggage, MarketWatch reported.
The change in Delta’s pet policy doesn’t mean you have to leave Fluffy and Fido at home, but you’ll have to pony up some extra cash to get your pets to your destination. Delta will continue to allow some pets, including small dogs, cats and household birds that can fit in a pet carrier under a seat, to fly as carry-on for a fee of $75 to $200, depending on your destination.
Other pets can be shipped on the ground as freight through Delta’s Cargo service, but it can be expensive. The cost per pet is $193 to $1,481. If you choose this route, you’ll also have to drop off your pet three hours before your scheduled flight at a different location than where you check in with the airline.
“Many of us at Delta are pet lovers and we know that they are important members of the family,” Bill Lentsch, senior vice president of Delta’s Airport Customer Service and Cargo Operations, said in a statement. “This change will ultimately ensure that we have a high quality, consistent service for pets when their owners choose to ship them with Delta Cargo.”
Although the Atlanta-based airline didn’t say why it was changing its pet policy, Delta has experienced a number of pet incidents in the past decade, MarketWatch reports, which could have spurred the policy revision.
Delta has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of pet fatalities among domestic airlines. From May 2005 to September 2015, 74 pets died on Delta flights, according to MarketWatch. That’s 25 percent of all flight-related pet deaths in the United States; another 14 pets went missing.
Still, Delta’s pet deaths and lost animals account for a small percentage of the thousands of pets that fly on domestic airlines each year.
What do you think about Delta’s new pet policy? Have you ever flown with your pet? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.