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Top Pet Friendly Airlines
Petfinder rates the best airlines for pets

Flying with pets can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you travel with a large dog. I go through great lengths to avoid putting my dogs on a plane, even if that means driving over 1,000 miles from New York to Florida!

But for those of you who have to travel by plane, Petfinder just released their annual list of most pet-friendly airlines. The airlines were reviewed based on the following criteria: most pet-friendly overall, best amenities for pets (and pet parents), best for transporting pet variety, best for budget-conscious consumers, best for flying multiple pets in cabin, and best for big furry friends.

Most important, all airlines that made the ranking were required to have zero pet deaths in the past reported year (according to official government reports).

Here are the top airlines for 2011:

  • Most Pet-Friendly Overall: Pet Airways. This choice isn't surprising, given that Pet Airways caters to animals, but hopefully this airline will inspire others to up their game.

  • Best Amenities for Pets (and Pet Parents): JetBlue. JetBlue goes above and beyond with the perks. Amenities include a pet carrier baggage tag, a travel “petiquette” guide, 300 frequent flyer 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 types of pets including rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds.

  • Best for Budget-Conscious Consumers: WestJet. WestJet has the cheapest pet fee at $50. AirTran Airways was a close second at $69.

  • Best for Flying Multiple Pets in Cabin: Frontier Airlines. All airlines have a limit as to how many pets can ride in the cabin. Frontier allows up to 10 pet crates on board, however only one container is allowed per passenger.

  • Best for Big Furry Friends: Pet Airways. Again Pet Airways rules with its pets-only flights.

I hope that reviews like Petfinder's list will encourage more airlines to become more pet friendly. Maybe one day all pets will be able to travel in the cabin alongside the humans. One can only dream!

Have you flown with a pet? Who would you nominate as the most pet friendly airline?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by lrumiha/flickr.

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