Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines says it will no longer accept pets as checked baggage effective March 1, 2016.
The move comes years after Delta faced some criticism for deaths of pets in checked baggage. Since then, Delta has gradually placed more restrictions on shipment of pets.
With the latest change, pets can still travel in the passenger cabin, except for in business class known as Delta One.
Pets can still be shipped via Delta Cargo -- though that can be costly and less convenient. Rates range from $193 to $1,481.18.
Exceptions to the new rule include members of the military with active transfer orders, as well as service and emotional support animals.
Shipping a pet via Delta Cargo is more difficult than checking a pet as baggage. It requires a separate booking, which cannot be done for domestic bookings until 14 days before departure. Pets won't necessarily be on the same flight as their owners, and they must be dropped off and picked up at Delta Cargo locations, which would require a car to get to from passenger terminals.
Delta for years has not allowed pets as checked baggage during the summer, and not allowed snub-nosed cats and dogs as checked baggage at any time of the year. It also already does not accept pets as checked baggage on its Airbus A330-200 planes, and does not fly pets on its Boeing 767 planes as cargo or checked baggage.
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