Starting this week Delta Airlines has added a service to help give traveling pet parents peace of mind. A new gadget, available for $50 per flight from ten U.S. airports, is attached to crates to provide real time data on the surrounding temperature, what position the animal is in, and the kennel orientation. If the temperature rises above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the device will send an alert to Delta's call center. The statistics can also be checked by through a web site.
The major limitation so far is that the system can only send alerts before and after a flight because restrictions on cellular communication while airborne. Still, the device is useful since many mishaps with temperature control happen on the tarmac. However, I think that this tracking service should be included for all pets traveling in cargo.
The gadget doesn't appear to have GPS capability, but given the stories of pets lost on the runway, this would be a good feature for the next version.
According to Transportation Department data, animal deaths have been down among U.S. carriers over the last few years. In 2014, U.S. airlines reported 17 animal deaths, down from 39 in 2010. This doesn't include lost pets, like Ty, the American Staffordshire Terrier that escaped while flying with Delta in October and hasn't been seen since
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Delta's gadget isn't perfect by a long shot, but I hope that this is the beginning of a trend to make flying safer with pets.