Airline absurdity: Why does kitty’s ticket costs more than mine?

By | December 18th, 2008

You know things are crazy when your airline charges less for your ticket than for your cat to fly under your seat.

But these are crazy times. Delta Air Lines recently raised its pet fee from $75 to $150, leading to this absurd scenario for Richard Grove.

It demanded an extra $300 to transport his 7-pound cat — less than Grove’s fare. He asked the airline to lower the charge. Delta refused.

So he wrote to complain.

For years I have traveled with Delta with a carry-on 7-pound cat and have been charged $75 each way. Although I considered this charge excessive for using space that might be occupied only by my feet under the seat in front of me, I was surprised and angered to find on my last flight this past November that Delta was now charging $150 for this space.

That’s more than I paid for my own ticket!

Is this reasonable? Other airlines, including American Airlines, US Airways, JetBlue and AirTran do not charge this excessive rate for space that has no other use than to put my own feet.

I think this is a bit of a stretch to believe that fuel costs necessitate this increase pricing by Delta and want you to know that I may not be your only customer who might seek relief from this exorbitant charge by using another airline.

Here’s how Delta responded.

I apologize for the poor impression and for your frustration with the replies you received below.

I can understand why you would be unhappy that the price has doubled since you last traveled. Also, it makes sense to me that you want to share your feelings on this matter. I appreciate you letting us know how you feel. Delta makes every effort to provide the highest possible standard of service in all areas of our operation, and I am sorry that we did not meet your expectations on this occasion.

Mr. Grove, I cannot promise you that this policy will change overnight or even that it will change at all. Nevertheless, customer feedback plays a direct roll in many of our policies. Therefore, please know that your thoughts and feelings have been shared with the appropriate members of our leadership team. Let me also assure you that this includes the necessary people to review the email exchange you shared with us.

Again, thank you for writing and giving us the opportunity to respond to your concerns. We value your feedback and truly apologize for your continued displeasure with us. I wish you and yours a joyous holiday season. We hope to serve your future air travel needs.

The “joyous holiday” was a nice touch, but it’s still a non-answer. How can an airline justify this kind of surcharge?

Grove responded, emphasizing that the pet policy was ridiculous. An airline representative eventually phoned him and more or less agreed.

“Oh well,” Grove told me. “My next flight will be on AirTran, which only has a $69 pet charge.”

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.