Less than a year after the FAA adopted new guidelines intended to prevent domestic pilots from flying with pets onboard, the Department of Transportation has issued a formal warning that pet-carrying fliers are already going to be banned from flights.
The DOT said on Friday that it has issued more than 500 waivers for pets and will now discontinue them. But the new rules are already in place and pilot (and who are not pilots, as the DOT puts it, “insiders or process users”) will be barred from flying with animals — and from bringing the animals on board with them — without the approval of the agency, the department said.
“We were very aware of how nervous pet owners can be, and how conflicted they can be,” said Jessica Klement, DOT’s acting administrator, explaining the rationale behind the change in policy. “And we just didn’t want to create any confusion, so it was important for us to set an obvious rule as soon as possible.”
And the reaction from pet owners seems to be mixed.
R.J. Ricker, a pilot who was among those who had been granted an exemption, said in a statement he was “personally very disappointed,” noting that he had never had an issue with pet-carrying passengers. He pointed out that he had always been allowed to bring his personal dogs on flights to his hometown of Las Vegas, “but lost my waiver only weeks ago.”
“This little kitty has taken flight with me, safely and sweetly, without a problem over many years and now is suddenly being stopped because of circumstances I can’t even imagine,” he added.
Joseph Seitel, a pilot and an aviation expert with Safety Operating Systems, also welcomed the new decision.
“Flying with a pet has always been a treat,” he said in a statement. “However, at times, it was a hazard to the system and to all passengers. It was always a challenge to monitor large dogs and large cats and keep them from wandering out into the cabin.”
And in the meantime, little Charlie and Leia R.D.1 can continue their happy journeys along with their two-year-old human companion, the DOT said.