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Art by: Georg Williams

Tips For Traveling with your Pets - BY PLANE

When you are planning a plane trip with your pet, it is crucial to first check your destination's requirements for bringing pets, especially if you are going to another country. Make sure that there is not a quarantine required. Preparations for international travel (the process of vaccinations, microchipping, obtaining health certificates from the required agencies) can take up to six months so you must realize this before you make airline reservations. Most airlines provide information about bringing pets onboard. Some airlines will not take pets at all and some will allow pets only when they are brought into the cabin. There are also rules about when pets are allowed in cargo depending upon the Season (the cargo hold is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer.) LetsGoPets has a general guideline listing airline requirements.


Does the airline allow pets? Can you to take your dog or cat on board with you?

Will the airline take your pet as cargo? Are there seasonal restrictions?

Does the airline require a specific type of carrier? The following are official websites offering information on airplane pet travel

FAA: http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_pets/cabin_pets/index.cfm?print=go

DOT: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/animals.htm


Does the airline have any health and immunization requirements beyond that of your destination? Often a Health certificate needs to be issued within 10 days of travel.

Be sure your pet is wearing a collar with an identification tag listing home address and phone number as well as a temporary tag that includes your cell phone number and your destination phone number, just in case your pet "takes off". Cats should have breakaway collars

Rules change frequently so it is best to call the airline or check their website at the links provided below.

Often there is a limited number of pets allowed in the cabin on any given flight so book as soon as you can to assure your pet will be accepted.

Remember that the USDA says that your pet must be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned before traveling on an airplane.

Be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is capable of traveling well. Pug nosed dogs or cats (e.g. Boston Terriers, Boxers, Chow Chows, Pekinese and Persians...) do not fly well because they are more apt to have trouble breathing due to their short nasal passages

Make sure your pet's Health Certificate is up to date and you meet all of the requirements of your destination country.

Using tranquilizers to sedate your pet is not advised because at higher altitudes, their effects on animals are unpredictable. If you think your pet needs sedation, tell your veterinarian where you will be flying to and then follow his recommendation.

Pets allowed in the cabin are usually 10 lbs. Of under and their carrier can fit under the seat

If your pet will be going in cargo, try to book a direct, nonstop flight so your pet will not have to be transferred to another plane risking mistakes or uncomfortable waiting periods. If the airlines don't restrict passage during extreme hot or cold periods, do restrict your pet yourself to less extreme weather and even consider early morning or late afternoon flights in the summer to avoid the heat.

Always travel on the same flight as your pet. Tell the captain and your flight attendant that your pet is in cargo. That way, they will consider your pet if special circumstances arise.

There are companies specializing in the relocation of pets that may be helpful in certain situations like when you are moving.

Clip your pet's nails before the trip so they won't get caught in the carrier's doors or sides.

The USDA requires you to give your pet food and water within 4 hours of check-in. At check-in you will be asked to certify the time at which your pet was last fed. Do not overfeed your pet as it is not good for your pet to travel on a full stomach. Do not leave food or water in the kennel. However, frozen ice cubes are often used during air travel as there is not the spillage problem and your pet can drink incrementally. It helps to fasten the bowl to the carrier's floor. You may also tape a packet of food on top of the kennel in case of emergency or during a layover.

Rules change frequently so it is best to call the airline or check their website at the links provided below:

Air Canada
Air Tran Airways
Alaska/Horizon Air
Aloha Airlines
American Airlines
Companion Air
Continental Airlines
Delta Airlines
Frontier Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines
Jet Blue - 1-800-JETBLUE (800-538-2583)
Northwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines
United Airlines
US Airways

The Carrier

You must use a USDA approved kennel for your pet. It must be large enough for your pet to stand, lie down and turn around in easily. For proper ventilation during the flight, kennels need to use spacers to separate them from other kennels and cargo. They also need to be lined on the bottom with absorbent material in case of accidents. The door of the kennel should be firmly closed, but not locked so that in case of an emergency, your pet can be accessed.

These carriers are usually available in pet stores and through most of the airlines.

Label the kennel with large directional arrows pointing up and saying either LIVE ANIMAL in letters at least 1" high. Write your pet's destination, phone number, and who will be picking up your pet and their cell phone number on the top of the kennel along with a photograph of your pet, in case he escapes. Whoever is retrieving your pet should also have a photograph.

Always purchase your kennel far in advance of your trip so that your pet can get used to it gradually. At home, put some of your pet's favorite toys in the kennel and leave the door open so he may freely go in, spend some time, and come out. This should acclimate him so that he is more relaxed when the travel day arrives.

Bookshop Pet Travel books direct from Amazon.
1. Click on the book you want: opening a new Amazon window.
2. Buy via Amazon’s secure systems.
3. Close the Amazon window to return here.

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