If you are planning on air travel with your furry friend, there are a few steps you need to take before check-in.
Many airlines have requirements that pet owners need to fulfill before boarding the plane. Pet travel can be fun, but it can turn into quite a headache if you do not do your research and have all the pieces in place ahead of time. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time before your trip to get everything in order.
Airline Pet Flying Rules
Who you fly with will affect whether or not your dog can sit in the cabin with you or if they will have to go into a kennel in the cargo area. Rules for service dogs are different than the rules for a companion animal. Service animals have to follow ADA guidelines, while airlines are free to set their own rules for what kind of pet you can bring with you and the number of pets you can have.
Some airlines are friendlier than others. For example, Delta Air Lines allows you to bring a pet as a carry-on as long as they can fit in a pet carrier, which must be stowed under the seat or in front of you. You also have to pay a fee at check-in for your pet to come with you. Under this policy, Delta allows cats, small dogs, and birds. Along with the size restriction, there are also age restrictions. Most pets have to be at least 10 weeks old.
If your pet does not meet the dog breed specifications or is too large to sit in the cabin with you, they will have to go into the cargo hold. While it is not the most pet-friendly option, sometimes it is the best you can do. In this case, try to pick a direct flight as that will be more comfortable for your pup.
If your dog has severe anxiety about travel and a road trip isn't an option, you can talk to your vet about whether or not tranquilizers are a good option to keep your pup relaxed.
Pick up a copy of your pet's vaccinations if you do not already have them. You never know when you may need them. You may also have to fill out a health certificate certifying that your pet is healthy for travel. Airline employees may ask you for a copy, or your hotel may ask to see your pet's record.
Destination Pet Restrictions
Some states like Hawaii, and countries like Fiji, have live animal restrictions and rules about quarantining your pet. You may want to hire a pet sitter if you are planning on traveling to places like:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
Some quarantines are five days or less while other countries have quarantines of 10 days or more. A few really restrictive countries like Iceland have up to a four-week quarantine, and you can only arrive during a specified period to qualify. Some of these quarantines are much longer than your trip is likely to be. However, if your flight is part of a move, then it is just something you will have to plan for. Also, Iceland charges quite a bit for your quarantine period. So you may want to skip this destination with your pup.
Pet Travel Tips
Once you have your destination and airline's pet policies all set, you can focus on how to keep your pup comfortable while flying. Here are a few pet flying tips:
- Book a flight without a layover
- Get a travel water bowl
- Know where the pet potty areas are at the airport
- Pack a favorite toy or two
- Pick a dog-friendly hotel
- Feed them early and well
- Make sure they poop before their flight
- Ensure their tag and collar are visible
- Fly on the same flight as your pet
- If they are in the cargo hold, write "Live Animal" on their crate in large, bold letters
It does not hurt to schedule a checkup with your vet before your trip, just to make sure your pet's health is in tip-top shape. If your dog does not have a microchip, now may be the best time to get one. Make sure you have your phone number registered and the phone number of a friend or family member who will be reachable if you are not.
According to the Human Society, some breeds should not be shipped in the cargo hold, as it can be dangerous to their health. For example, short-nosed dogs like bulldogs and pugs can have respiratory problems, as can pit bulls, though they may be too large for the cabin or banned altogether.
If you are concerned with whether or not your pup will be comfortable on the flight or at your destination, it may be best if you leave them with a trusted family member, pet sitter, or a boarding facility.
Have you flown with your pet? Let us know over on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page!