From ABC News: “Traveling with Pets: Airlines with the Most Dog Deaths”
Summary: In terms of sheer numbers, Continental Airlines is the worst offender, followed by Delta (now merged with Northwest), Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and United.
It’s always unnerving to read about the things that could go wrong on a simple flight, even a domestic one. I travel internationally more than domestically, but I’ve got to leave the dogs at home (and boyfriend, who takes over their care). Bowdu, in fact, moved with my boyfriend and me from Taiwan, where we were living at the time we got him, to the United States. We chose an inopportune time to return to the States — the beginning of August 2006, when most US airlines had heavy restrictions or a total embargo on the transport of pets. Rather than fly Bowdu separately with a cargo or pet-shipping service (or worse, abandon him like so many do in Taiwan), we shelled out a lot of money to fly an alternate route that only took off and landed at nighttime/early morning. In retrospect, we should’ve just bought him a seat of his own!
We booked tickets through EVA Air 長榮航空 (Taiwan) through Vancouver and Toronto with Air Canada, with a final destination in Detroit. The folks at EVA were extremely helpful and accommodating, perhaps because by coincidence, the flight attendant who checked us in also had a shiba at home and had been watching out for us the whole time. We arrived a little late, having wrestled too long with transport and administrative details, and the flight attendant saw that we were visibly agitated about the whole trip — perhaps why she bumped us up to business class. The transfers through Canada did not proceed as smoothly (including an unexpected extended layover in Vancouver due to a canceled flight), but we got back safe and sound, which is the important thing.
One of my greatest wishes for a changed world is to see traveling with pets become easier. Fees are relatively exorbitant, in my opinion, relative to the amount of additional “services” rendered in most cases. In other cases, outright prohibitions close off negotiation altogether. It has been pointed out to me that these kinds of rules will change only when standards of pet ownership change; overall, pet owners are just not responsible enough. The laws in place reflect rampant negligence that I am ultimately powerless to prevent. Still, we can strive and hope for progress.