Where exactly do they store pets on a plane?

Not every pet makes its way aboard a flight as checked luggage. Emily the cat, seen here, disappeared in late 2004, only to reappear later as a stowaway on a flight to France. She was eventually returned to her home in Milwaukee. See more pet pictures.
AP Photo/Christophe Ena

­Driving with a pet in the car can be a major hassle. Sure, your cat or dog may be content to sit there quietly for the duration of the ride, but it's also quite possible that your pug will spend the whole time whining from the confines of his crate or that your c­at will take refuge atop your shoulder -- and what happens if there's a traffic jam? What if Fido needs to go for a walk? What if Mr. Bigglesworth coughs up a hairball?

If you've ever experienced such adventures, the prospect of bringing your pet aboard a commercial airliner might sound like a nightmare at 35,000 feet or so (10,668 meters). However, the prospect of leaving a beloved, four-legged friend behind is often unthinkable. For this reason, most commercial airliners allow passengers to travel with their pets. In fact, an estimated 2 million pets and other animals take to the skies each year in the United States alone [source: U.S. Department of Transportation].

­Pets, however, aren't people. Even if they were capable of enjoying all the amenities offered in first-class seating, they wouldn't be eligible. The­y may be the love of your life, but onboard an airliner, they generally fall into one of three different categories: carry-on baggage, checked baggage or cargo.

Just where do airlines store this oh-so-cuddly baggage? Read the next page to find out.