I used to travel by air with my four-legged companions. I prefer carrying a dog or cat on board, tucking the little one under the seat in a safe carrier, rather than having my hairy companion in the cargo hold. It's one of the advantages of a smaller dog or cat. There has always been a fly in the ointment, however. The airlines do not charge for a carry-on unless there's a dog or cat in it. In other words, if you take your laptop computer aboard in a case, it costs you nothing. If you take your dog or cat in a carry-on case, it used to cost approximately $100. each way. You would pay for the privilege of losing leg room.
When asked, the airlines would cite "allergy" if pushed. No one had a real answer because there is no regulation regarding this. It was simply a matter of charging extra because they could. Seldom did you hear a sound out of the carrier. In fact, in all my years of flying, I've never heard from a dog or cat onboard. I cannot say the same for the infants whose parents didn't have the common sense to put a bottle into a baby's mouth on take-off and landing to counteract the change in air pressure. What I did hear was a lifetime of loudly screaming infants on planes. Then there have been the children who have pulled hair, kicked my seat repeatedly, screamed, yelled, whined. Well, you get the idea.
As for the allergy excuse, and it is my understanding that one airline in Canada has banned pets because some person got a doctor to complain, the excuse simply isn't valid. If dogs and cats are to be banned because of allergy, what about the women reeking as if they were standing next to the perfume counter when it exploded? Or the men who are doused in strong after shave? Anyone with asthma can tell you what that is like. Or a migraineur whose migraine is triggered by strong odors. Or the people who smell of cigarettes and cigars? What of those people who cause discomfort to other passengers and can, in some cases, make them downright ill? I was on a flight from NY to London a few years ago when a horrible stench was suddenly filling the cabin. It was pretty scary since many of us thought there was something wrong with the plane. It turned out to be coming from a woman a couple of rows ahead of me who was using nail polish remover and giving herself a manicure inflight! Often it's the flight attendants who are wearing an unearthly amount of perfume or aftershave.
I have sat next to a woman who threw up all the way across the Atlantic. People with colds and flu passing their germs through the cabin. Never once have I been disturbed by a dog or cat. But those respectful pet owners who care enough to carry their well-mannered dogs and cats with them have been punished by the airlines with exhorbitant charges.
The airlines are losing business thanks to the cost of fuel. They are belt-tightening, which is prudent. However, going after dog and cat owners is not likely to be very prudent. A friend who travels a good deal with her dogs made arrangements for two trips. The news of the new carry-on price for pets was nothing short of sticker shock. Her flight from JFK to Cleveland is $167. for her seat and $300. for her tiny dog to fly under the seat! Yes, you read that correctly: THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS! And she is the only one losing leg room! Her dog, by the way, has hair not fur, so if they're pleading allergy (and I don't think she has heard why they are charging so much), it won't fly. Any pun intended. For her flight from JFK to Long Beach, CA she is paying $299. for her seat and $200. for her dog to fly under the seat.
It is patently unfair.
People carrying dogs and cats to dog or cat shows have found air travel convenient but how many of them will now find it better to drive? It may take a little longer but the fuel costs for driving may well be less than those of flying with a dog or cat when outrageous costs are tacked on by the airlines for a carry-on. That's business lost to the airlines. Maybe they think they can afford it. Maybe they don't know exactly how many people travel for dog shows, cat shows, canine musical freestyle competitions, etc. They may be about to find out.