Which 50 Airlines are Best For Traveling With a Pet?

Many people love their pets — some so much so that they will do whatever they can to travel with them for free under the guise of emotional support animals, as evidenced by the plethora of articles posted here at The Gate which I have written extensively over the years pertaining to service dogs and emotional support animals. The articles include…

Which 50 Airlines are Best For Traveling With a Pet?

…but emotional support animals is not the topic of this article, which is actually about passengers who are not willing to compromise for the comfort of their pets — no matter what the cost — when traveling with them.

This article from Budget Direct highlights the pet-friendly policies of the top 50 airlines in the world — for which customers voted. The airlines were rated out of ten in categories such as cost-per-pet, cabin allowance, and openness to welcoming ‘unusual’ animals. Each airline ended up with a score out of 100, and these scores were used to rank the top 50 pet-friendly airlines worldwide.

I have been given express written permission to use the illustrations and the verbatim text from the aforementioned article in this article; so let us take a break from the rough news of the day — which is mostly for the dogs — and take a bite out of the rankings listed below.

And Now, The Airlines Which are Best for Traveling With a Pet are…

You can see plenty of puppies riding in bicycle baskets around the streets of the Netherlands, and it turns out Dutch pets like to travel by air, too. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is paws-down the winner for pets on planes, with a score of 81.8/100. That’s nearly 5 points ahead of second-ranked Air France. A look at the chart shows that KLM scores strongly across all categories, while third-placed Air Canada scores high for their low travel fees (just $82 per pet) but falls behind with its limit of 45kg for pets who fly in the hold.

Click on the image for an enlarged version. Source: Budget Direct.

Where are the most pet-friendly airlines based?

The best airlines for pet travel are based across just three continents. Europe is a hub for jet-setting pets, with five out of the top ten pet-friendly airlines, plus Turkish Airlines and Russian Aeroflot in countries that straddle European-Asian borders. South Korea has two airlines in the top ten, and Air Canada is the only representative of North America.

Click on the image for an enlarged version. Source: Budget Direct.

Who are the top and bottom-ranked airlines for pets on planes?

The airlines we reviewed were already highly rated for humans, so the high pet-friendliness scores of airlines like KLM and Lufthansa prove they have cross-species appeal! However, the airlines at the bottom of our pet-friendly chart seem to think much more highly of humans than of cats and dogs. Australia’s Jetstar Airways is in bottom place with a big fluffy zero because the airline “is not equipped to transport your pets” (although they’re kind enough to recommend ‘pet travel experts’ Jetpets to sort it out for you).

Click on the image for an enlarged version. Source: Budget Direct.

Pet-friendly airlines are the ‘bring your dog to work’ employers of the leisure industry. If one of these airlines is travelling in your direction, why not check in next time you want to travel with four-legged company; you’ll know your dog, cat, or emotional support alligator will be well looked after.

Summary

To create the aforementioned charts, a detailed review of the pet policies of the top 50 airlines in the world — as ranked by the annual Skytraxx airline rankings in 2019 — was conducted. The information on the pet policies were sourced from the official Internet web sites of the airlines; and Internet web sites such as BringFido and PetTravel were also used to find additional information. Each airline was then scored and ranked based on their policies.

The research behind this project was conducted between Friday, March 20, 2020 and Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

That no airline based in the United States ranked in the top ten should be of no surprise to anyone; and notice that neither American Airlines nor United Airlines placed in the top 50 airlines which are friendliest to pets…

…especially as United Airlines was reportedly responsible for 75 percent of the deaths of animals aboard airplanes operated by domestic carriers in the United States in 2017; as well as almost 87 percent of injuries to animals. Additionally, the French bulldog puppy of a passenger died after the bag in which it was stored was placed in an overhead bin aboard an airplane operated by United Airlines back in March of 2018; and a giant rabbit also died during a flight operated by United Airlines from London to Chicago.

Other articles which were written over the years at The Gate pertaining to traveling with pets include:

Photograph ©2008 by Brian Cohen.

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