Delta will no longer accept pets as checked baggage, which will likely cost passengers more at booking. (Photo: iStock)
Flying with your pet is about to get a lot more complicated…and expensive.
In a statement on their website, Delta declared that starting March 1, 2016, it will no longer accept pets as checked baggage.
Instead, larger pets will have to be shipped using Delta Cargo, a service where pets are closely monitored during travel and are handled in temperature controlled holding areas and vans.
Small pets that meet weight and kennel requirements will still be allowed in the cabin for a fee (usually around $125 in the U.S).
In addition, there are two groups exempt from the rule. Pets of U.S. military and their dependents are allowed to be checked as long as they have active transfer orders, and Delta will continue to accept service and emotional support animals with proper documentation.
Military personnel with active transfer papers will still be able to transfer pets as checked baggage. (Photo: Delta)
In past years, Delta has been criticized for their handling of pets. The new rule will hopefully cut down on the 17 animal deaths that occurred on U.S. airlines in 2014 — four of which occurred on Delta.
But using Delta Cargo is going to be an adjustment for many passengers. First, the service can cost anywhere from $193 to $1,481 depending on the shipping location and the size of the animal.
When it comes to reservations, a separate booking from the owner’s flight itinerary is required, and pets being shipped domestically cannot be booked until 14 days prior to departure.
Also, if you hate getting to the airport early, then you might want to consider another option. Shipping a pet requires dropping it off at a Delta Cargo location at least three hours before departure time at a location separate from passenger check-in.
And after all of that, pets are not guaranteed to be shipped on a customer’s same flight or flight schedule.
Delta will contact customers with bookings after March 1 that are known to include pets as checked bags.
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