W Power 2024

In Japan, pets aren't welcome in airplane cabins

Ten of the 13 major airlines in Japan have no plans to allow passengers to travel with their pets in the cabin, according to a survey by national daily newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun

Published: Feb 15, 2024 05:26:26 PM IST
Updated: Feb 15, 2024 05:33:28 PM IST

In Japan, pets aren't welcome in airplane cabins Japanese airline StarFlyer is opening its aircraft doors to pets, for 50,000 yen (approx $335). Image: Shutterstock

To meet the expectations of an increasingly pet-friendly clientele, many airlines now welcome pets on board, and especially in aircraft cabins. Except in Japan, where carriers are tightening up their policies on dogs, cats and other animals.

Ten of the 13 major airlines in Japan have no plans to allow passengers to travel with their pets in the cabin, according to a survey by national daily newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun. Only StarFlyer opens its aircraft doors to pets, for a charge of 50,000 yen (approx. $335).

The airlines polled for this survey justify their decision by invoking health protocols. "For the comfort of all passengers aboard, including those with allergies, we are checking pets in the cargo hold at this time," a Skymark Airlines spokesperson told Mainichi Shimbun. "We take great care of pets as companion animals, not cargo."

The publication of this survey comes just over a month since a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 collided with a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft at Tokyo-Haneda airport on January 2. This accident caused the death of five of the six occupants of the Coast Guard aircraft, as well as a dog and a cat in the hold of the Airbus, according to the South China Morning Post.

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This event prompted animal lovers to ask Japanese airlines to review their policies towards carrying pets. But airlines explain that they have stopped accepting pets in the cabin following repeated complaints from their customers. "Passengers were, in the past, allowed to take their pets into the cabin, but we received many negative comments from other passengers about allergic reactions, while others complained about the smell and excessive noise and barking," a Japan Airlines spokesperson told the South China Morning Post.

The hostility of Japanese airlines towards pets is all the more surprising given that Japanese people are particularly attached to these animals. The country is home to nearly 16 million dogs and cats, according to the specialist website Global Pet Industry. While this figure has fallen slightly in recent years, pets have become such an important part of Japanese life that they accompany people just about everywhere—except in airplane cabins.

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