Pet travel just got a welcome boost thanks to a new policy being rolled out by China's Hainan Airlines. The Haikou-based carrier is the largest civilian-run air transport company in the People's Republic of China and the fourth-largest airline in Asia in terms of the number of passengers carried annually.
Hainan Airlines operates domestic and international services on 500 routes from nine Chinese cities (Guangzhou, Qingdao, Changsha, Kashgar, Xiamen, Haikou, Ji'nan, Shenzhen, and Hefei). The new pet policy will apply only to domestic flights from all nine of those locations.
The new policy runs against recent industry trends that have discouraged pet travel, such as restrictions on what constitutes an “emotional support animal”. Several highly publicized incidents in which pets have suffered illness, injury and even fatalities have also led air travelers to reconsider bringing their pets along for what might be their last ride.
Hainan Airlines is taking a different tack by encouraging passengers to bring their pets with them – and not in the cargo hold or overhead bin! In a nutshell, “a passenger may carry no more than one pet, with a limit of two pets per flight.” In plain English, one pet may be held by the passenger while the second must remain inside a cage or pet carrier placed on the floor in front of the passenger's seat.
The total weight of the pet plus the carrier must be under 5kg or 11 pounds, and the pet carrier must be smaller than 35cm (13.8 inches) long, 28cm (11 inches) wide, and 24cm (9.5 inches) tall. As well, the airline must be notified 24 hours in advance and a fee of 800 yuan or roughly $125 per pet will be charged. (via China Plus)