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A Pouch's Pricey Ticket

By Dian Vujovich

I was hoping to take my most wonderful companion, Gracie, with me on a trip to Minnesota this weekend. I wanted her to meet the relatives. That was until I found out what her ticket would cost. Holy mackerel. Maybe that should be, holy dog biscuits.

Not that many years ago taking a pouch on a flight came with a price tag of 50 or 75 bucks —each way—and a few restrictions. Like those about their size, weight, the shape of their carry-on container, plus the number of carry-on pets allowed on the flight was limited and a note from a vet verifying their good health required.

Today, those restrictions still apply but the pet ticket costs are sky high. Gracie’s ticket price was about the same as mine: $150 each way. “Are you kidding me?” I thought when the price was quoted. No, they weren’t.

Seems as though sometime last year the cost of traveling with a pet rocketed. Maybe the increase was due to the rising cost of fuel. Remember, that’s when we were paying about four bucks a gallon for gas for our cars. Maybe not. But whatever happened the result has been a change in ticket prices, fewer passengers traveling, fewer flights scheduled and planes more crowded than ever.

A new revenue strategy was also put in place: Charge passengers for their baggage and make pet travel fees astronomical.

While I understand that airlines are businesses and have to make money, I don’t get the baggage charge and really don’t get the pet fee increase. I mean, if the pet ticket hike was predicated on say rising fuel costs, if you were to calculate what the extra fuel cost for carrying two or three 12-15 pound pets in the cabin of an Airbus amounts to, it’s got to be negligible.

But business is business and when you’re into making money, you add fees wherever possible. Who cares what the increases in price mean to those your business caters to.

Personally, I think that the pet price hike is as stupid a tactic as charging someone for his or her baggage is. Both are goofy, greedy and don’t add anything positive to the entire air travel experience which has gotten a whole lot closer to cattle car by rail travel than flying through friendly skies.

So here’s the deal, decide to travel with your pet in tow tucked under the seat in front of you and the tariff will be as follows;

•Choose to fly Northwest or Delta airlines and a small carry-on pet will run you $150 each way.

•Make it a United flight and the ticket will cost $350. That’s $175 each way.

•Go Continental and it’s $125 each way BUT you can earn miles for your pooch’s flight.

•The best pet fares are from American Airlines and US Air. They charge $100 each way.

Bottom line: Gracie won’t be flying anywhere this weekend.

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