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Flip, flop, and fly: Alaska Airlines again requires health certificate for in-cabin pets

I’m losing patience with Alaska Airlines, so I’ll say up front that this is the airline’s policy as of today’s date; given their track record, check their page about pet travel carefully. Heaven only knows what their policy will be when you’re making your plans.

Back on November 4, I reported that Alaska Airlines had started requiring health certificates for in-cabin pets and expressed a fervent hope that the other major U.S. airlines would not follow suit. Two weeks later, I reported (with relief) that Alaska had reversed itself, and once again only required health certificates for pets traveling in the belly of the plane. That, I thought, was that — but on December 31st I got word that Alaska’s pet travel page had changed yet again, and now looks like this:

In relevant part, the page now says "A health certificate is also required for pets traveling in the cabin, and many states have specific importation health and vaccination requirements. It is recommended to contact the State Veterinarian at your destination prior to travel to determine necessary documentation (such as health and cold weather acclimation certificates) and vaccination requirements."

In relevant part, the page now says “A health certificate is also required for pets traveling in the cabin, and many states have specific importation health and vaccination requirements. It is recommended to contact the State Veterinarian at your destination prior to travel to determine necessary documentation (such as health and cold weather acclimation certificates) and vaccination requirements.”

That’s bad news, for all the reasons I laid out in my first post and on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page.  Please also note that the policy is “Effective December 4,” which is a little rough on the folks who were making plans between November 21 (when Alaska dropped the policy) and December 31 (when they reinstated it).

I don’t know if and when Alaska will change its mind and steer itself back into line with the other major U.S. airlines (except Hawaiian, which, given the islands’ concerns about remaining rabies-free, is a special case). I am amending Dog Jaunt’s chart about health certificates and U.S. airlines to indicate that Alaska’s policy is up in the air and should be checked and double-checked as you make your plans.

For those of you wondering what the heck a domestic U.S. health certificate is, here’s a blog post showing you what it looks like, and how it’s different from other bits of pet travel documentation.

5 comments

  • kam

    Hi, thank you. This is lousy news, of course. This time given the commercial involvement of Banfield, I’d imagine it’s much less likely to get reversed. Of course Banfield wants this business and as many know they are very strong on vaccinating for anything under the sun, as often as possible. To wit:
    http://www.banfield.com/pet-health-resources/preventive-care/vaccinations/what-vaccines-does-my-puppy-or-dog-need-and-how-of .
    That link for the special discount no doubt involves some revenue sharing between the two corporations.
    Thank you for all you do and write; I recommend your site frequently and have the book in Kindle format.

  • Liz

    The site now says “A health certificate will not be required for pets traveling in the cabin with their passenger…”. Good news once again!

  • Sandy

    Wr just flew on Alaska Airlines this week with our 10 lb. chihuahua Zoe in cabin. Everything went very smoothly, we did not have a health certificate, but I did bring updated vaccination records, which no one asked for. We used a large Sturdibag, which worked well underneath the window seat of A 737-800. Don’t expect to have much legroom, but I an only 5’2″, so it is not a big problem. We didn’t take her collar off walking through security, but I did get my hands swiped both ways. In Tucson we only put her in the carrier right before boarding the airplane, it was fine. Overall a good fist experience, I would definitely do it again.

  • Fantastic, Sandy! Alaska has a good reputation for being kind to travelers with dogs, which is why the note of hysteria started creeping into my posts about their recent policy flip-flops. So glad they’re back to normal, at least for your first trip.

  • Joshua

    While I understand the annoyance of dealing with the health certificates, it’s actually against the law to travel without one when crossing state lines. The health certificate is not really for your dog’s benefit, but the benefit of the animals in the state you are visiting. It’s your decision whether to get it or not, but even if you drive, it is legally required.

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