Animals pay the price in airline fees

Written by D e a , e a, b , r , a, a, e , k , a, a, n , a, a, v , n, b , a How would you feel…

Animals pay the price in airline fees

Written by D e a , e a, b , r , a, a, e , k , a, a, n , a, a, v , n, b , a

How would you feel about you having to pay $100 just to check your dog bag when you’re boarding your flight?

It’s just one of the new fees airlines have announced as they continue to tighten their belt, reduce overhead cost loads and price their flights to cover the overhead costs — the mix they incur when planes are overbooked or when travelers waste valuable jet fuel on overpriced meals or drinks that the airlines don’t really need?

“If you would have told me a year ago I would have to pay $100 to check a bag, I would have said you are nuts,” says Anne Banas , executive editor of SmarterTravel.com.

Qantas announced a $25 one-off fee for each pet, size 13 or larger, that’s checked into the cabin, beginning July 2. Other airlines have confirmed they will be following suit by adding pet fees of some kind.

Qantas says the new fee is for oversize, overweight or otherwise overweight dogs and cats, and the fee would be waived for certified service animals. Pet owners who must travel with their pet before July 2 can exchange their ticket for a flight after August 16 and still check a pet, for a fee of $25 per pet.

AirAsia isn’t the only airline now charging $25 to check your pet in the cabin. Air Canada, Garuda, JetBlue and American Airlines are also all charging at least $25 per passenger for each bag that’s checked. These fees will be added on to the fare, so if it’s a $500 ticket, you’ll pay about $200 for the pet and $25 for the bag.

If your pet does get banned from the flight for being overweight, there is the choice of being thrown off the plane or paying the weight charge, like Qantas and American Airlines. AirAsia says passengers who have no chance of making it to the airport can rent a car and drive their pet back.

The airline industry has been suffering hard times in recent years, with massive deficits and cutbacks. Losing customers and profits to the upstart discount airlines that have not yet fully recovered, some airlines have focused on shoring up their bottom lines by implementing their fees.

“Airlines keep focusing on their bottom line, on cutbacks and on what costs can they charge for,” says Mike Boyd, president of The Boyd Group.

American Airlines, Delta, Southwest and United have all added fees for third or more bags checked in the baggage compartment. Other airlines — Frontier, Allegiant, Allegis flight, Hawaiian Airlines and Spirit Airlines — have charged for using the overhead bin in the cabin.

Beyond being a nice-to-have feature, some airlines are adding pet fees to pamper their pet-owning customers. Citing “continued increases in customer demand for pets,” Hawaiian Airlines and Delta will be adding pet fees for adding your pet to a checked bag. Air Canada, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines all now charge a pet-fee surcharge for connecting to a connecting flight.

Back in the terminal, animal owners must be careful.

“These fees are punitive,” says Boyd. They encourage pet owners to ignore U.S. federal and state laws that protect the health and safety of animals traveling on airplanes.

“If you don’t want to carry a bag into the aircraft cabin, do not travel with your pet. You may be ticketed, but as far as we know, you are allowed to bring them on board.”

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