GPS devices are already being used to keep track of wayward pets on solid ground. The same technology may be helping you track your pets and their condition while they fly the friendly skies.
Sendum Wireless Co. is the first to apply GPS technology to track pets while they are being transported aboard an airplane. Not only does it pinpoint an animal’s location in real time, it can transmit data ranging from the temperature in the cargo hold to whether the animal’s cage is upright or sideways.
Delta Air Lines is currently making these devices available at airports in 10 major U.S. cities including Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle. Pet owners pay a $50 fee per flight for usage.
It’s likely that Delta instituted the program at least in part to counter their poor track record when it comes to transporting pets. Between 2010 and 2013, Delta reported the greatest number of animal incidents of any airline. They were ultimately held responsible for 41 of the 97 deaths that were reported.
Delta tried to downplay the statistics, claiming that the high number of deaths was explained by the fact that they carry a higher number of pets than their competitors do. However, a high-profile incident earlier this year cast doubt on that rationale.
Several dogs that had been in New York City to compete in the prestigious Westminster Dog Show were scheduled to return home to Seattle on a Delta Air Lines flight. Word got out that the dogs had not been loaded onto the airplane, a fact that was confirmed when inquiring passengers were told by staff that they had no idea where their pets were.
While the angry pet owners were all ultimately reunited with their dogs, Delta ended up paying for a night’s stay for all the passengers at a hotel near JFK Airport. They also furnished them with VIP service at the airport, refunded their $200 fees and gave the dogs seats in the cabin for the flight to Seattle.
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