When it comes to the busy summer travel season, frequently, families can’t bear to leave their furry friends behind. Including your pets in travel planning–especially in flying–can be challenging. In addition to regulations, consideration for the safety of their pets is an essential factor. If you’ve ever wondered if one airline was superior to another when traveling with pets, this article will help answer that question.
Best and Worst Airlines for Traveling With Pets
If you plan to fly with your pets, the following statistics based on a study for Veterinarians.org detail the pet-related incidents for some of the most popular U.S. airlines. The results may aid travelers in determining the best airlines to fly with pets. It may also deter them from choosing other airlines.
Best Airlines for Traveling With Pets
In the year 2020, even despite the shutdown of most travel, the airlines transporting the most pets were Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Horizon Air, Delta Airlines, and SkyWest Airlines. These five accounted for 84% of the total number of pets transported.
Leading the way for flying pets is Horizon Air, part of the Alaska Airlines family. Since 2015, they have successfully transported over 130,000 animals with a 0 incident rate annually through 2020. Incident rate includes the death, injury, or loss of a pet, with the rates based on the number of incidents per 10,000 animals transported.
Next up is Alaska Airlines, which transported over 107,00 animals without incident in 2020 alone. Alaska and Horizon have earned a reputation for their commitment to pet-friendly air travel.
Two other airlines that transported over 10,000 animals in 2020 with no incidents were SkyWest Airlines and Envoy Air. SkyWest, which operates regional flights for bigger partners such as Delta, United, American, and Alaska, features pet policies on its site. Envoy Air is the largest regional carrier for American Airlines.
Worst Airlines for Traveling With Pets
These are not the types of lists airlines want to be on, but travelers should be aware of the statistics before choosing an airline to travel with.
Hawaiian Airlines had the highest incident rate of 2.15 in 2020 while transporting 9,302 animals. Just after them is Delta Airlines which transported 18,934 animals with an incident rate of 1.06 in that same year.
While United Airlines featured a low incident rate of .99, they, unfortunately, recorded the highest number of pet deaths at 45, 40% of the total number of pet deaths across all airlines. Between 2015 and 2020, the airline transported over 400,000 animals. Rounding out this portion of the list is American Airlines, which flew 80,817 animals with an incident rate of .62.
Airlines are required to submit their monthly reports on the death, loss, or injury of an animal during air transportation by their regulatory agency, The United States Department of Transportation. The data included in the reports encompasses animals as pets and does not include those shipped for research or resale or animals being transported to sanctuaries.
These statistics seem to show that smaller regional carriers have better success in transporting pets safely to their destinations, whether that be because of shorter flights or greater attention to pet needs.
Before heading out to one of these pet-friendly cities in the U.S., take steps to choose an airline to get Fido or Frida there safely. Additionally, consider checking out a pet-friendly hotel in the state you are traveling to. Pets can be safely included as part of their human family’s summer vacation or anytime travel with a bit of care in choosing an airline. It will be a tail-wagging good time for all.