Pet Travel Tips for Flying

Pet Travel Tips for Flying

To help ensure the safety and comfort of your pet while flying, it's important to follow some basic tips and guidelines.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the pet policies of the airline you are flying and take note of the following in regards to their pet policies:

  • Does the airline allow you to take your cat or small dog in the cabin with you?
  • If that option isn't available to you, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your pet below the cabin?
  • Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?
  • What are the airlines specifications and requirements for pet carriers?

Not all pets are suited for air travel. Things to consider include your pet's temperament, any physical impairments, or if your pet suffers from an illness.  Before you begin your trip, be sure that your pet is "up" for the journey. This means a visit to the vet for a medical checkup and to ensure that your pet is up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations. Be sure to tell your vet about your plans to travel by air. Your vet can recommend to you whether your pet is suitable for this method of travel. Once you've got the green light, here are some tips that will help make you and your pet's air travel happy and safe.

  • Health Certificate:  During your pre-trip vet appointment, ask your vet to issue a health certificate for your pet.  This typically needs to be dated within ten days of departure.  Carry this with you while traveling with your pet, as it may be required at different points throughout your travel.
  • Non-Peak Flights:  Consider booking a non-peak flight, which typically means less passengers and more cabin room. This will help ease potential stress for your pet.
  • Direct Flights:  Use direct flights.  Changing planes with your pet may cause undue stress on your pet, particularly if layover time is not adequate for a pet walk and bathroom break.
  • Flights & Extreme Temps:  If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes, particularly if your pet is traveling below the cabin. Most airlines institute pet travel embargoes during certain months or times when temperatures are extreme to help ensure the safety of traveling pets.
  • Same Flight & Notify Airline Staff:  Always travel on the same flight as your pet. Ask the airline if you can watch your pet being loaded and unloaded below the cabin. In addition, when you board the plane, notify a flight attendant that your pet is traveling with you as special precautions may be taken.
  • Breed Considerations:  Do not ship pug-nosed dogs or cats such as Pekingese, Chow Chows, and Persians in the cargo hold. These breeds have short nasal passages that leave them vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and heat stroke in cargo holds.
  • Be Early:  Have everything packed early and leave early to allow plenty of time to deal with normal air travel as well as your pet's needs. Keep yourself calm before the flight as pets sense your stress and anxiety.
  • Select the Right Carrier:  Carriers are available in both hard-sided and soft-sided.  Soft-sided carriers are more suitable for carry-on and tend to fit better under the seat.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendations as far as the appropriate size carrier for your pet.  The proper size carrier should allow your pet to be able to lie down comfortably, stand up and turn around.  Ensure for proper ventilation and comfort.  Triple check that your pet is secure in the carrier and they can't escape.  Find airline approved pet carriers at the TWP Store.
  • Carrier Familiarization:   Give your pet at least a month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. This will minimize his or her stress during travel. In addition, include a favorite toy or item with your scent in the carrier with your pet for comfort.
  • Travel Label:  Affix a travel label to the carrier with your name, the name of your final destination or contact person, home and final destination addresses, as well as your home, cell, and final destination phone numbers.
  • Proper Collar & ID:  Fit your pet with a collar that can't get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification on the collar - a permanent ID with your name and home address and telephone number and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached.
  • Trim Nails:  Make sure that your pet's nails have been clipped to protect against their hooking in the carrier's door, holes, and other crevices.
  • Feeding:  Do not feed your pet for four to six hours prior to air travel. Small amounts of water can be given before the trip.  If possible, secure a collapsible travel bowl to the inside of the carrier and place a few ice cubes in it.
  • Photo:  Bring along a current photo of your pet. This will make it easier for others to help you find your pet should your pet get separated from you.
  • No Tranquilizers: Do not give your pet tranquilizers unless your veterinarian prescribes them. Make sure your veterinarian understands that the prescription is for air travel.
  • Leash:  Carry a leash with you so that you may walk your pet before check-in and after arrival. Do not place the leash inside the carrier or attach it to the outside of the kennel.
  • Upon Arrival:  When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place and examine your pet. If anything seems wrong, take your pet to a veterinarian immediately.  Get the results of the examination in writing, including the date and time.