Dogs on a Plane

Tracy Stewart, August 17, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. Let me state upfront that I am not anti-pets, but I do have a question about pets in the cabin on aircraft. The first leg of a recent flight included a dog in my row--the owner sat in the middle seat with the dog under the window seat. Although not severely allergic to dogs, being seated that close for hours (as well as having the human in what could have been an empty seat between us) was going to be a problem and I asked to be reseated. The flight attendant accommodated my request, but I discovered that there was a dog under my new seat! What are the rules with respect to pets in the cabin, particularly if someone onboard has life-threatening allergies to animals? Who has precedence, the person with the allergy or the pet owner (who has paid more to have the animal in the cabin)? Are the flight attendants aware of where pets are on each flight? In an incredibly bizarre coincidence, on the second leg of my trip, I was again seated next to a person with a dog. At that point, I was too tired and the plane was too full to bother moving!

    A. You bring up good points. Airlines do have some indication in advance how many pets will be on board a particular flight, because usually pets are booked far in advance. JetBlue, for example, allows up to four pets per flight, and three of those spots are booked in advance by phone, while the fourth and final pet must be booked at the airport at the ticket counter on a first-come first-serve basis. But the airline might not know exactly where the pets are located until everyone is seated. You have every right to request a seat reassignment and it shouldn't be too hard finding an animal lover to trade places with you. If no one will trade in your cabin, you could ask to be seated in another cabin if available.

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