Airlines in April were blasted over and over and rightfully so. United’s actions were truly reprehensible including the killing of the “mega bunny“. Delta, with their 3rd massive service disruption that took the better part of a week to fix was also shameful as well as the lame excuses that followed.
But another problem that has really been a hot button topic this year has been ESA or Emotional Support Animals. Why have we seen such an “explosion” of folks with red vests on their pets when they fly? It could be because of the above and:
“Your pet counts as one piece of carry-on baggage. Pet in Cabin fees still apply.” – Delta.com
Think about this for a bit. You not only are paying $125 ONE-WAY, with no discount for holding the Delta co-branded AMEX cards, and you lose out on the ability to have a carry-on bag as well. OUCH! (btw United Airlines $125 and American Airlines $125 and Southwest $95 and the last one calls it a “Pet Fare” rather than just yet another fee 😉 )
Some folks are saying people are getting “fake” certifications for their pets. Well, I have to tell you, if I had to pay $250 each round trip for my pet to fly I would very possibly develop a condition that would need some kind of calming therapy to keep me from losing it completely (maybe you would too)!
And that is my point really. I am in no way condoning folks who lie to get an ESA exception letter when they truly don’t need it. But at the same time how can the airlines – with a straight face – ever justify such a massive fee to bring a pet on-board and especially when they are killing so many in their care year after year in the cargo holds (btw Delta now no long allows pets as cargo on passenger jets – with a few exceptions)?
So how do the airlines fix this “fee” disgrace? The way they always do with added incentives for people to always fly just one airline if they have pets. For example, give a discount if the pet owner holds the co-branded Delta AMEX card. Or, make it so that if you are a Delta Silver Medallion elite (or higher) you get a pet “fee waver” free each flight. I can imagine a leisure traveler would strive for at least this lowest Delta elite level and only fly Delta if they offered this perk!
The bottom line is the shameful kind of fees the airlines are charging is clearly driving people to desperate measures and possibly even dishonest ones to avoid these nasty and high fees or pet fares. Make them more reasonable and the problem will fix itself. Don’t you agree? – René