Top Airline Animal Stories Reviewed

PHOTO: A family is pictured walking in an airport in this stock image.

The dog days of summer are upon us and plenty of canines are making aviation news like the flying German Shepherd as well as snakes, ferrets, cats and even a shark vs. plane scenario.

In other words, it's time for the annual round-up of summer air travel news, critter-edition.

For more travel news and insights view Rick's blog at

Some serious and not-so-serious items we've come across this summer:

Pets on video: If you miss Sparky or Fluffy while traveling, British Airways' has the solution: Its new all-pet video channel called Paws and Relax. Imagine enjoying your very own animal channel in midair; almost like surfing all those Grumpy Cat videos in the cubicle (at least 'til the boss strolls by). A waste of time? Heck no, says BA, since puppy and kitty videos can actually "lower heart rates and reduce stress levels".

Pets on planes: At least one animal looks unstressed during the rigors of air travel and that's the previously-mentioned flying German Shepherd. We got a kennel's-eye view of the pooch thanks to a GoPro camera attached to his crate. Might be a smart thing to do if you have any concerns about how Fido is treated on his next trip, which brings us to the next item.

Pets in trouble: According to the most recent government figures Rats on a plane: The August headline was scary: "Air India Flight Grounded to Avoid Catastrophe" but relax, it was just a bunch of rats. Crew members spotted the rampaging rodents during a flight from Calcutta to New Delhi but airline officials shrugged it off saying such infestations are "common" world-wide because of the wonderful aromas from catering vans. I guess that means we're safe since U.S. airlines no longer offer meals in coach and some are even cutting back in first class.

No rats on planes: Speaking of rats, United Airlines is fine with a wide variety of service animals but they draw the line at rats. They also balk at reptiles, ferrets and spiders. Service monkeys are no problem as long as the little helpers (some breeds, anyway) are small enough to fit under the seat without "invading another passenger's space". I only wish some human seatmates were as polite.

Animal scams (maybe): While we're on the topic of service animals, USA Today reported some frequent travelers believe there's an increase in service animal scams and point to passengers traveling with lap-sized creatures that look suspiciously like plain old pets. Since airlines cannot charge a fee for service animals, the thinking is this might be a way to skip out on pet fees that can range up to $500+ round-trip. However, it's also true that not every disability is visible so don't jump to conclusions.

Animal disappearances: Sometimes animals go on the lam at airports; Gyzmo the cat got some ink this summer doing just that at JFK but luckily reappeared a few days later. It was another matter when Jack the cat went missing at the New York airport in 2011; he was gone two whole months before finally crashing through an office ceiling onto some very surprised customs officials.

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PHOTO: Researchers working with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy identified two great white sharks on July 28, 2015.
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