Jet Set Pet Controversy: 3 Kittens Take Over 10 Hour Transatlantic Flight

Two Americans living in Europe came home for the holidays, and they brought their three kittens with them. Flying Air Serbia from Belgrade to Chicago, the pair brought the three cats they’d found in a Serbian village when they were mere weeks old.

The two – Ian and Anna – travel across Europe in a van with their cats – a van they’d shipped from the U.S. to Europe. But they were traveling for Thanksgiving by air.

The kittens started off the flight in their crate. But an hour into the flight, one of them “got scared.” So they let her out and gave her lots of love.

Then they fed her. Eventually the kittens fell asleep. But the passengers decided to bring out them out to play halfway through the flight because they “low key missed them.” Seven hours into the flight was “a big bathroom break.” OMG they went potty into a tupperware.

According to the couple, “Overall we’d rank our experience 10/10.”

Social media reaction is almost universally negative, from the flight attendant who points out that pets in cabin must remain in their carrier throughout the flight (and that there’s only one allowed per passenger, so there’s one more than should be allowed) to those who feel that this is obnoxious and worry about the smell, not least of which from cat food (and… urine).

In their defense they say that “the plane was pretty empty!”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gary — In 20 years of blogging, this has to be your best line ever: “OMG they went potty into a tupperware.”

  2. Cats with a porta potty in-flight? I haven’t seen that on my own flights. I also hope never to see a port-a-potty being used on my flights.

  3. Yep, they were cats, not kittens. I took a kitten on a 8 hour bus ride once. I had it in a box and petted it most of the way. At first it was anxious but then it settled down and slept a lot. It grew up to be a very affectionate cat.

  4. Ian and Ana don’t believe any rules or etiquette expectations apply to them because the kittens are so cute.

  5. What’s not to love about kittens but they don’t belong outside their carrier. Unless quarantine restrictions have eased substantially I’m surprised the people brought the kittens over.

  6. Forget the smell, the potential mess, etc., there are far more serious reasons those cats should not have been permitted in the cabin since only one per person is allowed and since most airlines have an absolute limit of the number of pets per flight.

    Had I been on that flight, I would have been as mad, furious, heated and outraged as all hell considering that I’m beyond allergic to cats. Animals in the cabin, save true service animals, are supposed to be in enclosures that can fit under the seat and left there.

    Even with that, I have to load up on allergy medication to handle a cat in a cage within about 5-6 rows of me. I have had flight attendants move me when cats in enclosures were in my row or the row directly in front or behind me.

    With the cats out of cages, if I would have been on the flight, I would have been covered in itchy welts from head to toe in minutes and in great pain, plus having difficulty breathing within minutes as their dander would be in the main cabin air.

    Animals beyond service animals should never be permitted in the cabin of planes in my opinion because there are many who have allergies to animals just as bad or worse than mine and almost every passenger who brings pets on planes doesn’t obey the rules and lets them out of their cages during the flight, contrary to the rules to which they agreed.

  7. Owls, skunks, monitor lizards, and other animals should be allowed on planes…or cats and dogs should be banned. No one should be forced to sit next to anyone else’s animals.

  8. These cats were better behaved than many humans on planes are. They didn’t get drunk and puke, pee on the lavatory floor, throw garbage all over the place, clip their toenails, FaceTime with the volume on 10, hang their hair over the seats, or fistfight. I’d fly with them over anyone out of Miami or on Spirit airlines any day.

  9. Thank you, Babblespeak. Pets can (usually) be made to behave, whether through affection or bribery, aka treats. The same cannot be said about human beings.

  10. I’m with Babblespeak. I transported cats starting after Hurricane Katrina to get them back home and none of them were any trouble. I did leave them in the carrier the whole flight. The only time I even opened a carrier was when transporting two (yep, one more than me, but I had special permission from an airline exec) kittens for adoption. A small boy was having issues on the flight and his mom asked if he could see the kittens to calm him down, so I opened the carrier but didn’t take them out. He was adorable just watching them. I do understand the issue with allergies and have no problem moving to another seat to avoid those problems. Maybe some passenger problems could be avoided if passengers were also placed in carriers and not allowed out during flights? Oh well, one can dream.

  11. But the cats can stop a person from breathing. So No no. No.remember what happened when that horse got lose in cargo and they had to turn around

  12. No! And for all the reasons listed above, even on flights that are “pretty empty.”
    I’m confident that all airlines did not make the decision to ban dogs, cats and other animals and livestock in the passenger compartment just to piss off cat lovers.

  13. If the airline knows they will transport kitties, they should notify passengers ahead of time to reschedule, take meds, change seats, etc. I do understand the allergy problem for humans and the potential danger.
    Katrina and other disasters are special flights. Maybe someone with a private plane could transport disaster recovery animals.

    I agree that they need to clamp down on ESA…they have gotten out of hand and
    many people are faking their pet being a rescue dog.

  14. @NSL 14 should seriously reconsider flying at all! I suspect this alleged super-allergy is just the tip of the iceberg of her lifestyle issues.
    Definately a full-on drama queen.

  15. I had a person comment to me that she is going to forge vet records to take her pets overseas because she refuses to vaccinate them. Wrong thing to say to me, lady. I will turn you in as it is a criminal act to use fraudulent papers for travel of this type. Which vet’s identity have you tried to steal in the past since you need to have their information on your pet’s forms? Identity therft is a crime. Taking an unregistered pet that in not vaccinated against rabies which can hit the brain, is also a crime.
    Maybe she is related to these people that brought three cats on board instead of just two.
    Although it doesn’t say how long of a visit they were doing. Possible a move from one country to another in progress?
    As long as your paperwork is legal and correct, they won’t say anything. They may have purchased an additionnal seat to take all three or paid for the privilege.
    Jusy be happy the cats were provided something to crap in that could be contained and theown away after the flight.
    Would the complainer have been happier if the cats messed all over themselves so the cats and the carrier would stink for whole flight? Have had cats do that on a long distance drive. Not pleasant when the next pull off was 3 hours down the road.
    For the allergy person, feel free to book charter flights.less chance of encountering cat lovers.
    Try to have happier times this holiday season , everyone!

  16. W O W !!! Most of these commenters are just hateful and unhappy with how THEY Receive Joy in their lives! Or have Z E R O joy in their life. You don’t have to fly on an airlines that allows pets…OR IS THAT IT WAS KITTIES that gets your goat ??? GO AND FIND ANY THING, because a person or persons can’t make YOU feel joy, that might make your heart grow 3 sizes !! GRINCHES !!!!!

  17. Just another childless middle-aged white woman that uses her animals to act as stand ins for the fact her natural maturnal instincts are telling her to have a child and a loser wimp of a husband that enables it.

    Selfish people.

    I’ll be laughing when he dies and she’s stuck in a nursing home at 80 being abused by care workers because she’s all alone and nobody is around to care.

  18. How is that selfish Andys? Most people who bring kids into the world don’t know how to raise them period. Get your head out of your arse!

  19. @ Dianne Kerr-Waltz. And your stated fact that you “HATE PEOPLE” but are evidently fine with cats on the airplane says what about you?
    At what point do you start respecting other people’s desires not to mention their allergies . . . 4 cats, 8 cats, 64 cats and a barnyard of animals and reptiles?
    Please, I’ve no problem with you loving your animals/pets in your own home, just don’t bring them to the restaurant, grocery store or on any public transportation, especially airplanes.

  20. Hard pass since I’m allergic to them. Not fair to other passengers. Cute or otherwise. This is just plain rude.

  21. If anything were able to force me to stop travelling, the idea of being on an airplane with morons like this would. Scary to know that ‘they’re out there’.

  22. I would adore flying with kittens. They’re cute and quiet. Much better than listening to some annoying brats crying, shrieking, yelling, kicking my seat, running in the aisle and playing some annoying video game.
    I’d much rather share space with an iguana, cat, dog, chicken or other species.

  23. All you so called allergic people have to do is ask the airline if there are animals on the flight. Then you can be seated away from them. These kittens used their litterbox/ Tupperware which is actually better than nasty butt diapers and screaming kids. All they Tupperware needed was a lid. Bunch of whiners here. I took a cat on a flight and no one even noticed except the fight attendant.

  24. I’m in total agreement with @NSL14.
    Anaphlaxis could curtail the entire trip for all passengers.
    Allergies to cat dander are no joke.

  25. Just as a factual point, three kittens is in compliance with Air Serbia’s policy (“A maximum of two animals belonging to the same litter may be accommodated in the same carrier.”, and they had one carrier per person it seems).

    (Taking them out of the carrier, not so much, of course)

  26. That would be best ten hour flight ever, getting to watch adopted cats cavorting! I expect nothing but negativity but wow this surpassed even my jaded expectations. That “hyper allergic” woman sounds exhausting and I’m thankful I do not have to attempt to dine with her in public, I expect she also has 20 different food allergies but then says “well I’m not allergic per se, I just really don’t like them” after you point out that there are onions in pasta sauce. I know allergies are horrible, I store my work clothes outside in my truck because I have 2 cats at home and an allergic coworker who I don’t want to inflict suffering on. Pets are allowed on that flight and I wish humans would eat and go to the bathroom so cleanly.

  27. Good grief, NO. I’m quite allergic, to the point my eyes swell so I can’t close them. I’m generally ok with people transporting pets, but keep high allergen pets like cats in their carriers.

  28. What is wrong with people that they have to be angry and judgemental about animals on a flight. I can promise I’m sure I’d rather have an animal than you next to me on a plane. Get a hobby and get over yourself.

  29. I wonder if the kittens ever actually made it I side the USA? You can’t just willy nilly bring some animals across the border. Did the kittens have their papers from CBP for import, veterinary records etc?

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