Pet Travel by Air
It can't be said often enough: traveling by cargo poses dangers
for dogs. So use common sense, be especially cautious if your dog is
old, unhealthy, or is a snub-nosed breed. If you have a choice, travel by
car or by train. If for any reason you cannot travel on the same flight
with your pet, use the services of a licensed Pet Transporter. Visit
the Pet Passport section of
www.PetTravel.com for more information on pet transporters.
AIRLINE PET TRAVEL - SMALL PETS
If your pet is small enough to fit in a carrier, which goes beneath your seat this, is far and away your best bet for a safe worry free trip. Most of the major airlines are still accepting one pet per passenger at an average cost of $100.00 to $300.00 each way.
1. You must make a reservation well in advance as only one or two pets per flight are allowed. The reservation must be done over the telephone. It cannot be done online.
2. Your pet carrier must fit under the seat. Choose a flexible airline compliant pet carrier which has a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation, and secure zippers that you pet cannot open. Your pet must be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier. Be sure you measure your pet carefully from tip of nose to base of tail and from top of ears to the ground to pick an appropriate carrier.
AIRLINE PET TRAVEL - LARGER PETS
Here are some tips when considering pet travel by air:
- Fly a reputable airline
- Don't travel during peak holiday times
- Unless you absolutely have no choice, take only direct flights. If you must change airlines, be sure you can collect and then re-check your dog at the layover airport as airlines do not interline live cargo. Try to give yourself a long enough layover to take him out for a walk or checkout the airport dog relief area.
- In the summer, travel early or late in the day to avoid heat; in winter, travel mid-day to avoid severe cold. (This has nothing to do with the temperature in the cargo compartment, which is pressurized and kept between 50-70 degrees by law, but with the temperature in exposed loading areas.)
- Make sure your dog's collar and ID tags are sturdy and reflect your cell phone number.
- Make sure you are carrying a veterinarian certificate showing that your pet is in good health and their shots are current. The certificate should not have been issued more than 14 days before departure.
- Use a top-quality airline compliant crate with enough room for your pet to turn around. Use crate hardware to secure the 2 halves of your crate, not plastic fasteners. Many airlines are now requiring the use of steel nuts and bolts.
- If the flight is over 3 hours be sure the pet has water in the crate. There are devices that are relatively spill proof.
- Cover your crate, using stickers or paint or permanent marker, with notices that say: "HI! My name is XX. Please be NICE to me. Thanks!" and " I'm traveling from XX to XX on Flight # XX" and "My Parent's name is XXX. Phone: XXX. Cell: XXX." The more stuff that calls attention to the crate the better.
- Carry a photograph of you with your dog that you can use to help find him if you're separated.
- Get to airport at least a half hour earlier than usual, check in, but don't let them take your dog away until the last moment (usually 30 minutes before departure). Once you've checked in, take your dog outside for a walk and to let him relieve himself.
- Be ABSOLUTELY certain that the door of the kennel is SECURE, really secure and attach zip ties on each corner. Just above the door, write: "DO NOT open this door without the permission of owner or a licensed veterinarian!"
- Don't leave your dog before a baggage handler actually comes to collect him. Give the baggage handler a US $5 tip (or local currency equivalent). Ask him to please be sure the dogs are ok (we don't know if this helps, but it makes us feel better).
- Be sure not to leave anything in the crate that your dog can rip to shreds, might get sick from, or choke on. A hollow white bone or a Kong stuffed with peanut butter may help keep him calm.
- Don't give your dog sedatives unless you have to, and only then on the advice of your vet. Sedatives make it difficult for your dog to adjust to temperature changes and turbulence, and they may impede his breathing. We suggest an all natural pet calmer.
- At the gate, if you can look out the window and watch baggage being boarded, watch for your dog or cat. If you can't see them being loaded, wait until all the other passengers have boarded then ask the gate attendant to radio the baggage area to make sure your dog has been loaded. Refuse to board unless they confirm that your pet is on the plane.
- As you board the plane, talk to the Captain or flight attendant and say, very politely, " I just wanted to let you know my dog is on this flight, in cargo. It's his first time flying so I'd really appreciate you making sure he's ok and double-checking that he's in the right compartment."
These common sense steps will help to ensure a safe trip for your pet when he cannot travel with you in the cabin.