Furry friends move to freight: Beginning March 1, Delta Air Lines will no longer accept pets as checked baggage. Instead, animals must be shipped using Delta Cargo. Two groups will be exempt from the new rule: service animals and pets of U.S. military personnel and their dependents who have an active transfer order. Small pets will still be allowed in the cabin for a fee ($125 one-way, in most cases).
A separate booking for a pet, distinct from the owner’s flight itinerary, will be required. Costs can be quite high. (Best price for a 40-pound dog in an intermediate kennel flying from MSP to Los Angeles on Dec. 1 was $36, according to a search.) Such bookings cannot be made until 14 days before departure. Pets will not necessarily be shipped on the same flight as its owner. Also, pets will need to be dropped off a Delta Cargo location — typically near the airport — at least three hours before departure time. Pick up will also be at Delta Cargo.
With Delta Cargo, pets will presumably be more safe, as they will be monitored and place in temperature-controlled holding areas.
Another Delta change: Comfort-plus seats can now be booked directly, akin to coach- and first-class, on flights beginning May 16 within the continental U.S. and Canada. Previously, it has been offered only as upgrade to coach seats. The special seats offer a few extra inches, early boarding, free wine and beer and other perks.