Earlier this month, WalletHub published their annual airline rankings across several categories including pet-friendly airlines. We were reviewing these rankings as well as the methodology used, and several things jumped out to us. We wanted to discuss these results and process with our audience in case you come across these rankings and statistics online, or if you’re just generally interested in which airlines are most pet-friendly as part of making plans for your next trip.

Notes about Pet-Friendly Airline Rankings

  • Based on the number of animal fatalities, injuries, and lost animals (prorated for the total number of animals transported by the airline), the rankings are volatile from one year to the next. It’s hard to tell whether there’s any discernible pattern at all. Many airlines bounce around in their pet safety performance, but Delta has seemed uncannily consistent from one year to the next.
  • Speaking of Delta’s consistency, it will be interested to see if its long-term partnership with Carepod to monitor and make real-time reports of a pet’s travel status. Another major airline, United Airlines has no ranking at all from 2018, presumably from the period when it suspended its pet travel program to audit and overhaul their safety policies.
  • Envoy Air shows that airlines don’t necessarily need a lot of experience or a long track record to get things right. New this year, the airline ranks second. In fact, the top scorers from this year are all regional airlines. It’s also interesting to us that Alaska Airlines ranks third. While this airline serves plenty of other places than Alaska, it’s concentration of more northernly locations would seem to present clear pet travel dangers. But, apparently, this isn’t the case.
  • The rankings also indicate that four major airlines (Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit) do not transport animals at all. This, however, is not entirely true. These airlines do not allow for pet travel with cats and small dogs that can fit under the seat in front of you in the cabin of the plane. Thus, these rankings would seem to only apply to larger animals traveling as cargo or as checked baggage.

Big-picture, these types of airline rankings can be interesting to cite and mildly useful, but they’re based on limited information and specific applications. Depending on your situation and particular pet travel plans, these rankings and information may not be relevant. And certainly, you shouldn’t base your travel plans solely on these rankings. Moreover, choosing a pet-friendly airline known for safety doesn’t relieve pet owners of their responsibility to know and follow all the applicable pet travel rules.