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Vol 16|No 2|December|2019

Too dangerous to fly?

The 2019 Stupid Rule Award

by Jamie McKenzie (about author)

The essential question here is "Who makes stupid rules like this airline pet policy and how do they get away with forcing them upon us?"

This year’s STUPID RULE award goes to all those airlines that have adopted pet policies stating that there may only be one pet (small cat or dog) per person in the cabin unless two can fit into one carrier with a combined weight of no more than 8 kg. 8 kg = 17.637 lbs. No cat weighing more than 8 kg (counting the carrier) is allowed in the cabin.

Why is this a stupid rule?

The number 8 kg is not based on any factor that matters.

Perhaps you read about the 8.5 kg cat, Viktor, (about 18.47 lbs) who was declared too heavy by Aeroflot to fly in the passenger cabin on a flight to Vladivostok, in eastern Russia?

How would this cat, Viktor, shown here with his owner Mikhail, threaten the safety of the flight and the other passengers? There is no possible defense for the number chosen and enforced by the airline. Adding 2 kg to the flight would have no impact at all.

Do we have weight limits for passengers? Of course not. The person sitting next to the supposedly heavy Viktor might weigh 80 kg or 120 kg. The airlines do not care and do not set weight limits blocking heavy passengers from flying.

Imagine them forcing us onto a scale and telling some passengers, “Sorry! You are just too heavy. We are going to have to fly you down below along with your luggage.” That's what they wanted to do to Viktor.

If someone brought two cats on board in a carrier with a combined weight of 9 or 10 kg, would this endanger other passengers? threaten the stability of the plane? Cause any problem at all?

Would we have black panthers roaming up and down the aisles of the airplane killing pasengers?

Of course not!

This is Pearl, my terrifying black panther.

How about allowing two cats per person if the passenger buys two seats?

United Airlines allows that:

“If you want to carry on an additional pet, you’ll need to buy an extra ticket for that pet and pay an additional $125 each way. That pet must also always remain in the floor space under the seat.”
Unlike United, Lufthansa, Swissair, Turkish Airlines, and Aeroflot along with many others do not allow the passenger to bring the second animal even if a second seat is purchased.

Why do they take this hard line? Why do they turn down the extra revenue?

It is a stupid rule.

They allow two cats for one seat if they weigh less than 8 kg, but how will 2 cats in two carriers, each weighing 5 kg, each under a different seat, cause a serious hazard to the airplane, to other passengers and to the orderly progress of the flight?

My two cats flying from Denver to Moscow in 2016 -- two cats, two seats and one person approved by both United and Lufthansa. We flew to Moscow from Frankfurt on Lufthansa flight LH1446 on December 31. No complaints. No problems.
There is no rhyme or reason for this rule.

In September of 2017, Lufthansa blocked me from flying home, because the desk agent wrongly applied the Swissair policy of "one pet per person." Lufthansa did not have such a policy.

When I had booked tickets for two cats and two seats I was clear on the phone with their booking agent that it was just me and the two cats. She approved both seats and both cats and sent me emails confirming everything.

Later, after this problem, Lufthansa updated their policy to state “one pet per person” in the cabin. Arbitrary and capricious!

I was forced into a 1500 km train journey with my two cats, five bags and a guitar from Bucharest to Munich, where United gladly flew us home and welcomed the extra income. This cost me some $1446 USD extra. And the crazy thing is Lufthansa had approved the two cats and two seats on the telephone twice, one for a flight in December of 2016 from Munich to Moscow and the again in September of 2017. I had emails approving the two seats and two cats.

After this bad experience I sought an apology and damages from Lufthansa and started posting photos, poems and songs about their breach of contract. By now, more than 250,000 people have viewed and read these on Flickr at

Lufthansa never apologized and made up flmisy excuses for blocking the travel their agents had approved.

It seems that many airlines are committed to rules for pets that make no sense at all, and for that reason we have awarded those airlines the STUPID RULE award for 2019.

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