Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Throughout the years, pets have moved their way into our hearts and become part of the family. This bond, shared between pets and their owners, is why leaving your pet behind when we travel has become so difficult. With many of us needing service or emotional support animals by our side, and 37% of pet owners taking their pets while traveling, airlines have become more open to allowing our beloved animals on board with us. The big question is, how safe is it for our animals on board?
With more and more animals taking flight, airlines are making things much better for both pets and owners, but they are also narrowing the scope on animals they will allow. Take a look at these statistics for this year and see how common it is for animals to fly and learn more about the safety involved.
The 10 Statistics on Shipping Your Pet by Air
- 37% of pet owners take their pets traveling each year.
- In the United States, more than 2 million pets and other live animals travel by air each year.
- In the US, 6% of pets board a plane each year.
- The private aviation company, Vista Jet, reports an 86% increase in animals on their private flights over the past 2 years.
- 58% of pets flying around the world are dogs.
- 22% of domesticated animals flying each year are cats, ranking them as the second most popular pet in the air.
- Birds rank as the third most frequently shipped pets on airplanes.
- Alaska Airlines had zero reported pet incidents out of 107,042 animals flown on board in 2020.
- Hawaiian Airlines was 2020’s worst airline for pets with a 2.03% incident rate out of 55,906 animals transported.
- In 2020, United Airlines transported 448,654 animals on their flights with a 1.6% incident rate—the second-highest in the country.
Pet Traveling Facts
1. 37% of pet owners take their pets traveling each year
Going on a vacation isn’t the same without your pets. At least that’s how some pet owners feel. With more people owning pets, it is understandable that the number of people taking their beloved animals along for the ride when they travel is on the rise.
2. In the United States, more than 2 million pets and other live animals travel by air each year
(US Department of Transportation)
Air travel is used to transport animals for rescues, adoptions, and even agricultural purposes. Add in the number of pet owners simply going on vacation with their pets and it’s easy to see why federal and state governments have restrictions when it comes to animals in the air. Each airline also has its own set of rules they abide by when it comes to animals flying.
3. In the US, 6% of pets board a plane each year
Not including pets being shipped for sale purposes, 6% of pets owned in the United States find their way onto a plane each year. This shows pet owners’ love for their pets and their need to keep them with them at all times.
4. The private aviation company, Vista Jet, reports an 86% increase in animals on their private flights over the past 2 years
More and more pet owners are choosing to use private flights as a way to travel with their pets. According to Vista Jet, more breeders, adopters, and pet foster families are using private jets for transport as well. This allows for more focus and care to be paid to the animals, even if they aren’t flying with their families.
Pets in the Air
5. 58% of pets flying around the world are dogs
(PBS Pet Travel)
Dogs are easily the most popular pet in the world. With the many different breeds, sizes, and of course, their loyalty to their owners this is understandable. With more people traveling now, the idea of leaving their dog at home is simply too much. This is why more dog owners opt to bring their dogs along, even on flights, to ensure they can spend quality time together even on vacation.
6. 22% of domesticated animals flying each year are cats, ranking them as the second most popular pet in the air
It’s not surprising to see that cats are the second most popular pet when it comes to flying. While dogs may still be man’s best friend, cats are still loved by the masses. Cats have even found themselves as emotional support animals, which makes it more important for owners to have them along for journeys.
7. Birds rank as the third most frequently shipped pets on airplanes
The popularity of flying birds may come as a shock to you. These feathered friends often accompany their owners when moving across the country or visiting for long periods. Exotic birds are also shipped to new owners using this method.
Incidents Involving Pets on Board
8. Alaska Airlines had 0 reported pet incidents out of 107,042 animals flown on board in 2020
Throughout 2020, Alaska Airlines flew 107,042 animals on their aircraft. With all these animals spending time in the air, you’d expect accidents to happen, even minor. But throughout the entire year of travel, the airline had zero incidents involving the animals they shipped.
9. Hawaiian Airlines was 2020’s worst airline for pets with a 2.03% incident rate out of 55,906 animals transported
In 2020, the worst airline for pet owners to use was Hawaiian Airlines. It is unclear whether the more remote nature of the islands contributed to the issues the airline experienced, but it certainly was not good for their public image.
10. In 2020, United Airlines transported 448,654 animals on their flights with a 1.6% incident rate—the second-highest in the country
United Airlines is one of the best-known airlines in the world. Unfortunately, when it comes to pets, they are also one of the worst. Last year they reportedly flew 448,654 animals on their flights. With a 1.6% incident rate, they had incidents with more than 7,000 animals that flew on their carrier.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Safety of Shipping Pets by Air
If my pet travels in the cargo hold, are the conditions different?
No, the cargo hold is pressurized and temperature controlled just like the rest of the plane. There is no need to worry about pets struggling to breathe or dealing with uncomfortable temperatures.
Are pets allowed to fly in the cabin of the plane?
Each airline has different requirements when it comes to pets, but in most situations, this question is answered by the size of the pet in question. If your pet is smaller, you may be able to transport them under your seat in a ventilated carrier. Keep in mind, however, that your pet will count as your carry-on and the rest of your luggage will need to be checked.
How does flight length affect traveling with pets?
Your pet will not be able to wander the plane in search of a place to use the bathroom. Keep this in mind when booking flights. Extended flights may be more difficult on an animal.
Can all pets fly?
The Animal Welfare Act states that animals must be weaned for at least 5 days and be at least 8 weeks old before flying. They also require a report from your vet saying your pet is healthy and allowed to fly. The rest is up to the airline. Size, age, breed, and mannerisms all play a role when it comes to pets being allowed on planes.
Are emotional support animals allowed to fly in the cabin with their owner?
Yes. While there is a difference between service animals and emotional support animals, the Air Carrier Access Act states that service and emotional support animals can be with their owners during flights. If you plan on bringing an emotional support animal, expect to provide paperwork to the airline such as animal behavior reports, veterinarian records, and your own mental or medical records to prove your animal is needed. The airline will then determine whether you meet the criteria and whether they have space to accommodate your needs.
As you can see, understanding how flying with animals works also helps you to better understand the safety protocols involved. While more and more pet owners are opting out of leaving their pets behind when they travel, airlines are doing their best to accommodate. One of the best ways to ensure your animal’s safety on a flight is to follow all the directions and guidance offered by the airline. They have flown with many animals and have a great understanding of how the process works. By trusting them, you and your pet will have a better flight while you jet away to new adventures.