Dog in suitcase

Is this dog worried about flying Delta?

Here’s a sobering government statistic (if you’re currently drunk):

According to the US federal government, more pets died on Delta flights last year than on any other US airline. The Department of Transportation says more than two million pets travel by air each year in the USA. And of the 35 pets that died on planes in 2011, a whopping 19 of those pet deaths occurred on Delta flights.

Since there are literally dozens of US airlines, 19 out of 35 fatalities is a pretty, um, impressive record for one airline. Worse yet: Delta’s death count has gone up from 16 pet deaths last year. If Delta were in the business of killing pets, then apparently business was good.

The second place airline, America, could only manage five pet deaths.

You might be asking yourself, “Hey, how does Delta do it? Do they strangle pooches face-to-snout? Or do they drown the kittens in a potato sack?”

Well, the government said all 35 of the deaths occurred down in the cargo hold, away from prying eyes. Not a single pet died up in the plane cabin.

Now, with such a strong track record, you’d think Delta would be bragging about how they’re #1. Not so. According to this story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said, “The loss of any pet is unacceptable to us. We are working to improve the processes and procedures to ensure that every pet arrives safely at its destination.”

The spokesman claimed that pets don’t die on Delta flights because of “mishandling.” Rather, they say the animals “run into health issues in the cargo hold” which is why they’ve banned the transport of snub-nosed dogs and cats (like English and French bulldogs) that are prone to breathing problems.

Cats in suitcase

Concerned cats

The spokesman also explained that their airline has more pet deaths because it carries more pets than many other airlines, as it has a broad network of routes, i.e. they fly a lot, and they fly a long way. Plus some of Delta’s rival airlines, AirTran and Southwest, don’t allow pets to be carried as checked baggage down in the cargo hold. So apparently this prevents those airlines from killing as many pets as Delta…I guess they just aren’t trying hard enough.

That said, Delta wants to assure us that the number of pets that get injured or die on their planes is less than 0.2 percent of pets carried.

So this means Delta only kills less than 1 pet for every 99+ pets they don’t (or forget to) kill. Not too shabby!

— Ken Hegan

Bing: Can I buy a seat on the plane for my dog?

Read all of Ken’s MSN travel posts here and follow Ken to victory on Twitter

Warning: This article contains satire. I don’t believe for one second that Delta harms or kills pets on purpose. Do you?

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