Q: How are pets carried below deck treated? Is it true that they are kept in unheated, unpressurized sections of the plane?
At 35,000 feet the outside air temperature is about 55 degrees below zero, and there is not enough oxygen to breathe. Even worse than economy class. Transporting animals in these conditions would not please most customers, especially those who actually like their pets. So yes, the lower holds are fully pressurized and heated.
Controlling the exact temperature in these compartments is not always easy, depending on the airplane type and especially during hot weather. The holds can heat up substantially during ground operations. For this reason some airlines embargo the carriage of pets during the summer months, but in general the temperature range is well within their comfort zone.
This article is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.