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Flying With Pets

February 25, 1996

Thank you for Christopher Reynolds' Travel Insider column on the airlines' policy of allowing cats inside passenger cabins ("Why Pets on Airlines Can Be Beasts of Burden," Jan. 28). For many years, I did not fly anywhere because of the smoking and now I shall not fly again until people become more important than cats. Cat dander is a major cause of allergies because it gets into the upholstery and drapes.

On Oct. 9, I flew United to New York City and arrived unable to breathe. Even though I have a paid-up round-trip ticket on United to attend my daughter's May graduation from Harvard, I will not fly there. I shall ask for a refund on the tickets and send my daughter the money as a gift. What are the airlines thinking? More money to carry cats than people?

MARIAN K. EAKIN

Los Angeles

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As a former flight attendant and pet lover--but non-owner because of medical allergies--I was interested not in how much influence 64 million cat owners and 53 million dog owners wield in America, but how little influence babies have.

Pets have special containers that are placed under an aircraft seat when they travel. Common carry-ons, such as computers, must be placed in secured overhead bins or under seats. Travelers are not allowed to put luggage or animal containers on a vacant seat or land with one in or on their laps.

Secure storage place is the operative phrase here. A baby cannot be put in an overhead bin or underneath in a kennel or have any special protection. By refusing year after year to pass HR Bill 1309 requiring children under age 2 to be in a special child seat, Congress leaves lap babies less protected than a lap pet or a laptop!

VICY YOUNG

Cathedral City

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Reynolds did not address one situation that must be formidable for animals on long flights--toilet facilities.

When my husband and I returned to Los Angeles from Rome on an Alitalia flight last October, our seats were at the front of the coach section. We were surprised to see a small dog asleep at the feet of its owner (and not in any pet carrier, nor was one in sight). We learned that the owner had given the dog a prescribed sedative, and the animal slept for the first four hours of the 14-hour flight. As soon as it stirred she picked up the dog and took it into the restroom. That happened at least three times that we noticed.

Fourteen hours on a plane is a long time to share a chemical toilet with a group of humans, but having to also share a toilet with a dog or cat is not something we bargained for when we boarded that flight.

JEAN FOUNTAIN

Manhattan Beach

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It's an outrage that greedy airlines expose passengers to health hazards by permitting dogs and cats in the cabin where only humans should travel.

In addition to allergy sufferers, everybody is being victimized by flea infestation. Food is served during flights, therefore pets should not be allowed under the seats or anywhere else in the area occupied by humans. Health authorities strictly forbid pets in restaurants. How would you like to eat your lunch or dinner while a cat is relieving itself odorously in its carry box next to you under the seat? This practice must be halted immediately!

TONY KISS

Los Angeles

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Your article is just another example of why the planes of the '90s are like the buses of the '50s.

JIM HARRIGAN

Manhattan Beach

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The possibility of a fatal allergic reaction to an animal on board, especially for children, is real. Are the airlines prepared to treat anaphylactic shock or sudden death at 38,000 feet for reasons that are totally unnecessary?

PATRICIA A. REEVES

Los Angeles

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