Travelers with animals comprise a fairly small niche within the greater context of the airline industry, but recently a spotlight was thrown on the often tricky, contentious, and (nowadays) expensive issue of pet travel. First, we had a cheetah loose in an airline cargo hold, and just a few days later came Delta's new $150 one-way pet-in-cabin fee. The fee prompted us here are SmarterTravel.com to gather some feedback from you, our readers, on pet travel.
First of all, 72 percent of respondents answered "yes" to the question, "Do you think passengers should be allowed to travel with dogs and cats inside airplane cabins?" Only 22 percent said "no." As overwhelming as these numbers are, they're especially noteworthy considering only 25 percent of respondents have ever brought a pet aboard. 56 percent have not.
A number of you also chimed in with some thoughts on pet travel in general, and more specifically on Delta's new fee. Most people who commented on pet travel voiced their approval of allowing pets in cabins, even suggesting that pets are less disruptive than babies. And while there were a few people who expressed concern for allergic passengers, just about everyone agreed that Delta's new pet fee was an unacceptable gouge. Here are a few highlights:
"That fee is outrageous. You might as well book a seat for the pet!"
"$300 is a ridiculous amount to have to pay for a small pet to fly in a cabin."
"This is an extremely unfair charge. Why not charge for that kid that keeps kicking the back of my seat? My dog just sleeps and bothers no one. No one even knows he's there."
"The prices the airlines charge (particularly Delta) for bringing pets onboard as carry-on items are outrageous! What difference does it make whether one is bringing a laptop or a pet in a carry-on?"
My guess is that most flyers are similarly unhappy with Delta's fee, so it will be interesting to see if other airlines raise theirs. Resounding negative feedback occasionally reaches the ears of airline executives and, believe it or not, can even influence their decisions, as we saw last week when United canceled plans to raise baggage fees. I'll keep an eye on Delta's competitors (and Delta itself) to see what, if anything, happens next.