Worried about flying with your pet? Now there’s a solution

Now you’ll be able to check on your pets while you fly

Following a spate of pet deaths on board planes and mishandling in airports, someone has finally come up with what could be a solution to keep your animals safe in the air – a baby monitor for pets in the hold called Digi-Pet.

Digi-Pet uses sensors to check temperature, oxygen-levels, vibration, light and location. It connects to your phone and to the crew so it can raise the alarm if there are any potential problems.

An American Airlines baggage handler checks a dog as it prepares to be placed in the hold – EQRoy / Shutterstock flying with your pet Digi-Pet
An American Airlines baggage handler checks a dog as it prepares to be placed in the hold – EQRoy / Shutterstock

It will also be possible for airlines’ customer services representatives to monitor the live feed of your pet from the hold.

Digi-Pet has been developed by Unisys, a information technology company that focuses on security and logistics.

The app has been designed to work with Digistics, Unisys’ cargo management system for airlines, but it will work with any airline logistics system in use, Dheeraj Kohli, vice-president and global head of transportation, said.

Digi-Pet will come with a subscription model that will allow users to stream live-video and audio from the hold. Subscribers will also be able to talk to their pets throughout the flight.

The app will work on smartphones and tablets.

While some animals may travel in the cabin of an aeroplane, most are too large – Shutterstock flying with your pet Digi-Pet
While some animals may travel in the cabin of an aeroplane, most are too large – Shutterstock

While the recent incidents with the deaths and mishandling of pets on board aeroplanes may make it seem as if there are no rules for airlines to follow when carrying live animals, there are strict regulations.

The International Air Transport Association has live animal regulations that are enforced by local government. This is monitored by the US Department of Transportation.

Airlines have taken steps to increase the safety of animals travelling with their owners.

In 1999, United Airlines launched PetSafe, which led to them being called the Best Pet-Friendly Airline by Global Traveler Magazine in 2016. And in 2015 Delta Air Lines introduced a monitoring system to check the location of pets in the hold and the atmospheric conditions.

The Humane Society of the United States suggests that pet owners should consider all the alternatives to flying before travelling with an animal, while the Animal Welfare Institute provides detailed guidelines on airlines legal responsibilities when transporting live cargo.

“We are emotionally attached to our pets and it can be distressing to be separated from them when traveling by air,” said Venkatesh Pazhyanur, senior industry director of freight solutions for Unisys.

“Large pets – whether accompanied or not – must travel in the cargo hold. Unisys Digi-Pet uses IoT sensors to provide pet owners with full visibility of their pet’s comfort and the environmental conditions, as well as enabling them to talk to their pet – calming both the pet and owner.”

Kohli said that Digi-Pet is a way of “adding emotions to cargo”. “When it comes to pets, it has to do with family.”