The cost of flying with your pet

November 14, 2008 7:10:54 PM PST
We've heard about all the fees airlines are tacking on these days. But there is one more fee you may not know about.

They've hit us up for bottled water, pillows, movies, oversized baggage. But who would have thought they'd go after the family pet? That's exactly what's happened.

It's still free to take a carry-on bag aboard an airplane -- usually. But if you're Linda Serda it costs a bundle.

Why? The reason is her miniature Pinscher named Delta.

"She's flown about 30 times so far. She's gone to New York and she's gone to Seattle. She's gone to Connecticut, back and forth," said Serda.

Coincidentally they are flying this day on Delta, but it's costing a lot more these days to bring Delta on Delta

. It used to be $50 one way and now it is $150 no matter where she flies. And here's the startling thing: on this flight to Connecticut, the airfare for the dog is actually higher than the airfare for Linda.

The pet's fare -- $300 round trip and Linda's fare was just $267.

"I told them I said it's ridiculous that her fee is more than mine," said Serda.

The dog doesn't even get a seat. She's shoved under the seat like other carry-ons. She has to get weighed with the other baggage.

"If I'm paying $150 why can't she have a seat next to me because I'm paying a full fare for her, and she's not human so she can't occupy a seat," said Serda.

That's when I decided to get 7 On Your Side involved. I thought they'd help clarify things.

Here's what we found: Several airlines let passengers bring a small dog or cat right into the cabin and they charge a flat fee. But with the airlines in a financial tailspin, they've doubled and even tripled the pet fees.

"There's no inconvenience, it's just the way the airlines figured out how they're going to nickel and dime us on everything they can think of. They've thought of a new reason. Let's charge the people who love dogs," said travel attorney Al Anolik.

Anolik says it's not unlike the other fees airlines are tacking on for things like drinks, pillows and extra bags.

"They know they can get more money out of you and they're getting it and that's the only rationale to it," said Anolik.

Delta said it had to increase the doggie fare because of rising fuel costs and a changing, competitive environment.

Other airlines decided to increase their fares too. The fees used to average $25 to $50 each way. Now Delta charges $150 one way, United charges $175 American $100, Continental $125, Virgin American $100, and Jet Blue is $100. One bonus on Jet Blue, your pet gets frequent flyer miles just like people do.

Linda says kids love having a puppy on board, and her dog isn't costing the airline any more than a non-living carry-on bag.

"She knows she's got to sleep. She doesn't get up, she doesn't bark, she doesn't growl, she doesn't make a peep. I think it's ridiculous, really ridiculous," said Serda.

Airlines also have boosted the rates they charge for stowing your pet in the cargo hold under the plane. Something small animals often don't do well with.


Load Comments