There was a time when a “Pet Friendly” airline meant you could check Fido in at the airport and let him ride cargo. However, more and more people are traveling with their pets and in response, many airlines have taken the term “Pet Friendly” to a whole new level. These days, the goal of many “Pet Friendly” airlines is to provide the same amount of comfort to the pet that is provided to the passenger.
How is this done? First of all, for staff handling pets that come on board, “must love animals” is part of the standard job description. Some airlines provide goody bags containing various travel–sized pet toiletries and even carob cookies similar to the chocolate chip cookies served to passengers on board.
Pets are kept in climate controlled areas on the plane as well as during transport and in their own area with only pet crates and no luggage. Like their human counter parts, pets have three options for travel. These are Cabin Class, Baggage Class and Cargo Class. Some airlines offer a 24 hour pet travel desk, where customers not flying with their pet can call to track their pet travel. Midwest Airlines and Continental have even gone so far as to offer pet frequent flier programs where points can be earned each time the pet flies.
Some airports have also followed suit. In May 2008, the Transportation Department gave airlines a year to comply with new rules requiring accessible relief areas for pets. Now New — and newly improved — pet-relief areas have been popping up at airports all over the country. Miami International recently spent $40,000 to build two pet parks, each with a bench for people and a fire hydrant for pets.