For Peter Harrold and his wife, Jan, Shanti is part of the family, which means when they fly, their adorable Goldendoodle does, too.
But Shanti is too big for the cabin so she has to be checked. Typically airlines require carry-on pets and their carrier to fit under the seat in front of you, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave.
“It is not the easiest thing, it takes a long time, there’s lots of paperwork, you have to go to your vet within a week of the flight and get a health certificate each time that you do it, so yeah, you have to add about an extra hour to your arrival time at the airport,” Harrold said.
Starting in March, Delta will no longer allow larger pets to be checked onto their owner’s flights. Instead they’ll be handled as freight.
Pets will have to arrive at the airport three hours before a flight, be dropped off and picked up at the airline’s cargo facility — which may be in a different location than passenger check-in. And the pooch could fly on a separate flight that may arrive at a different time.
Delta’s change follows United which also transports larger dogs as cargo.
Sue Kazlaw-Nelson runs the airline’s PetSafe program.
“We really have a better-equipped facility at cargo, and we can properly keep the animals in a safe environment and have professional staff that can look after them when they have a connection or layover rather than just leaving them out on the tarmac,” Kazlaw-Nelson said.
Programs like United’s PetSafe, where animals are kept in climate-controlled conditions and monitored by employees, mark a course correction for airlines, said CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg.
“Airlines have done a terrible job for over 40 years in transporting pets in the cargo holds of passenger planes, and the statistics prove that, and the airlines just don’t want to play that game anymore,” he said.
Delta said its changes will “ultimately ensure that we have a high-quality, consistent service for pets when their owners choose to ship them with Delta cargo.”