The other option is checking your pet. Your kennel goes under the plane, as with your suitcase, but is placed in a special pressurized and temperature-controlled section of the plane. But that doesn't mean it is necessarily comfortable. In winter, airlines may require documentation certifying that your pet is acclimated to temperatures lower than 45 degrees.
There are also a whole set of regulations about carrier size and, of course, fees; $150 on American. Unlike carry-on pets, those that are checked don't require reservations on American. Vut the airline warns that sometimes capacity is reached and pets are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. That warning is mostly for dog show participants, but you never know when such a show is in town.
Rules vary by airlines, so make sure to check them out in advance. For instance, Delta limits its flights to only four pets in the main cabin and charges $125. Checking a pet on Delta will cost you $200 each way.
Sounds miserable and confusing?
Well, there's one other option: a pet-only airline.
Pet Airways flies to Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Los Angles, New York, Omaha, Neb., and Phoenix. Each plane holds about 50 average-sized pets. There are two pilots and a special pet attendant.
One-way trips start at $99, and the airline provides a pre-boarding walk and bathroom break. That's right, walks and breaks. If only we could all travel in such style. (Larger pets and larger distances can rack up much higher airfares. Hey, it's an airline; of course they hook you with the introductory fare.)