By Jess Klaebe
We all know how much you cherish your furry friends -- that cliche about gays and their "babies", all true -- so what do you do when you need to catch a plane to a faraway destination? Do you leave them behind? Do you put them in the cargo hold? (Are you serious?) Do you forget travel plans and stay at home? We think not.
Luckily our friends PetFinder.com (who find homes for adoptable pets from animal shelters and rescue groups throughout USA, Canada and Mexico) have the solution: their annual review of pet-friendly airlines. Everybody can be a jetsetter no matter how many legs you've got.
So who made the cut this year?
Top 2011 airlines for you and your pet:
- Most Pet-Friendly Overall: Pet Airways. Dedicated to providing a superior travel experience for animal passengers, the first-ever pet-only airline tops the list for this category due to their outstanding policies and first-class treatment of pets.
- Best Amenities for Pets (and Pet Parents): JetBlue. For the second year in a row, JetBlue’s superior JetPaws program landed the airline in top place for the pet-friendly amenities category. The customer-focused airline provides travelers with a pet carrier baggage tag, a travel “petiquette” guide, 300 TrueBlue points each way, and a comprehensive e-booklet with pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, parks and animal hospitals in some of JetBlue’s major cities.
- Best for Transporting Pet Variety: Frontier Airlines. Frontier allows the most diverse variety of pets in cabin, including domesticated dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and small household birds.
- Best for Budget-Conscious Consumers: WestJet. Included in Petfinder.com’s review for the first time, WestJet tops this category allowing small dogs, cats, rabbits and birds to travel for $50 each way in-cabin. Coming in a close second, AirTran Airways allows domesticated dogs, cats and birds to fly in cabin for $69 each way.
- Best for Flying Multiple Pets in Cabin: Frontier Airlines. Another exceptional airline in this year’s review is Frontier Airlines which allows up to 10 pet containers on each flight. While only one pet container is allowed per person, if you have nine other human friends traveling with you, the entire group can travel with up to 10 small four-legged friends. Remember to book your reservation in advance so the whole family can fly together!
- Best for Big Furry Friends: Pet Airways. The only airline with a sole clientele of “pawsengers,” Pet Airways can accommodate some of the biggest pups in town, as well as smaller animals such as cats, rats and guinea pigs. With the maximum height allowance being 34 inches from the floor to the top of “pawsengers’” shoulders, pet parents of Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, and all those mixed breeds in between should rest assured that their colossal canine can fly comfortably.
Once you know how to get there, know where to go. Check out our Pet-friendly Travel Guide for travel to ten North American cities, from Washington, DC to San Diego and Boston.