FUKUOKA -- Japanese airline Star Flyer Inc. will allow passengers to bring small dogs and cats on regular domestic flights, the airline announced Sept. 16, as it hopes to increase customer numbers amid a sluggish business performance due to the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the Fukuoka Prefecture's Kitakyushu-based company, this is the first time a domestic airline has allowed pets to accompany passengers on regular flights. The service is expected to be limited to one passenger per flight on the routes between Kitakyushu Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, and Fukuoka Airport and Haneda Airport, and is scheduled to be introduced in the spring of 2022 at the earliest.
The airline explained that passengers are allowed to bring their pets in a cage (about 50 centimeters long, 40 cm wide, and 40 cm high) and give water to them, but they are not allowed to take them out of the cage or feed them at the airport or on board.
Pets who accompany passengers will be required to wear diapers for cats and dogs and to have vaccinations, and will be seated next to their owners in the last row of seats. A demonstration test will be conducted on flights between Kitakyushu and Haneda in early October to see the reaction of passengers and other factors. The price for pet passengers has not been decided.
Until now, domestic airlines have, in principle, treated pets as baggage and placed them in the cargo hold, taking into consideration complaints about their smell and noise, and the possibility that other passengers may be allergic to animals. Some airlines outside of Japan reportedly allow pets to board with human passengers.
(Japanese original by Shinichi Okuda, Kyushu News Department)