The concept of pets on planes has become a hot-button issue of late as emotional support animals have become more prominent than ever — the use of emotional support animals on planes rose by 74 percent in 2017 — leading to several troubling midflight incidents, complaints from flight crew and prompting some airlines to change their policies.
Pet Life Today recently surveyed more than 980 people who traveled by plane last year to examine travelers’ attitudes regarding dogs, cats and other animals on planes.
According to the study, only about one in four pet owners (28 percent of cat owners and 27 percent of dog owners) feel that their pets are safe traveling in the cargo hold. In 2017, 24 animals died in the cargo holds of planes. However, that figure represents just a tiny percentage of the nearly 507,000 pets that flew on planes that year.
While 21.7 percent of respondents said they had difficulty with their airline when traveling with their pet, more than two-thirds of travelers (70.3 percent) indicated that they would fly with their pet again.
Moving is the most common reason travelers bring their pets on planes, with 47.6 percent of cat owners and 44.3 percent of dog owners citing relocation as the primary reason. Meanwhile, roughly one-quarter of pet owners said they’ve flown with their furry family members simply because they wanted to.
Other leading reasons why travelers bring their pets along for the journey include traveling for a long period of time; not being able to find a pet sitter at home and emotional support or assistance.
Being afraid for their animal’s safety is the top reason pet owners ultimately decide not to travel with their four-legged companion, followed by concern that they won’t behave and added cost.
Flight times matter also. The study found that a majority of pet parents are only comfortable bringing their animals on flights lasting five hours or less.
When it comes to the different species of service animals and pets, dogs are the most welcome on airplanes, with 85.7 percent of respondents believing service dogs should be allowed in the cabin and 60.9 percent believing pet dogs should be allowed to sit with their owner. Cats and rabbits are less desirable among air travelers, with roughly 50 percent and 30 percent of travelers believing they should be allowed to travel in the cabin, respectively.
Interestingly, 25 percent of people believe that no pets should be allowed to travel in the airplane cabin.
Non-pet owners are most concerned about sounds (62.2 percent), smell (61.2 percent) and passenger safety (51 percent) when flying with animals while 23.5 percent of pet owners say they have no concerns at all.
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