If you and your pet are planning airline travel, the first thing you need to do is to is to measure your pet. If your pet is at most 18 inches from the front of the shoulder to the base of the tail and between 12 and 14 inches high from top of head to the ground, there is a good possibility that your pet can travel in the cabin with you if your airlines allow it. If your pet is larger than that, they will have to travel as checked baggage. Very large dogs will travel as cargo.
In Cabin Pet Travel: contact the reservation department of the airline and notify them that you are flying with a pet. Most airlines allow only a limited number of pets in the cabin so make your reservations early. Ask the airlines the dimension under the seat in front of you on the plane that services your route so you know what space your have to work with. If you do not have a flexible airline pet carrier, you need to get one. The airlines will require that your pet can stand up and turn around in the carrier. Do not stuff your pet into a carrier that is too small. Neither one of you will get on the plane.
Additionally, the carrier must have a waterproof bottom and plenty of ventilation. The fasteners and zippers must close securely. An absorbent pad is really a must, especially for long trips. A high quallity, padded shoulder strap is a big help, especially if you have other carry on items. Your pet carrier will be considered by the agent as a piece of carry on luggage.
If your pet is too large to travel in the cabin but not over about 70 pounds, you will check them in at the ticket desk where luggage is checked. Your pet will fly in an area of the airplane which is temperature and pressure controlled just like the cabin. You will need an IPATA compliant cargo pet crate.
- Your crate should be made of sturdy plastic and large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around.
- The fasteners must be secure and many airlines require steel nuts and bolts instead of plastic fasteners.
- The crate must have adequate ventilation in the sides, and all four sides must be ventilated on international flights.
- Live Animal stickers with writing at least one inch tall must be present on the sides and top of the crate.
- Food and water bowls must be attached to the door of the crate and accessible to baggage handlers.
- The lock on the door of the crate must be a spring lock mechanism that cannot be opened easily. (Many pets are clever escape artists!)
- No wheels are allowed on any crates.
- Unless the crate is of a medium size or smaller, handles are not allowed.
- On international flights, a health certificate must be attached to the outside of the crate for inspection.
- Pet absorbent pads are a good idea to keep your pet dry and smelling good.
If your pet is over 70 pounds (for most airlines) you will need to make a reservation with the cargo department of the airline. Ask them the location of the cargo department of the airport you are traveling from because you will need to drop off your pet at that location. Your pet can travel on the same flight as you and will be in the same compartment as if they were traveling as checked baggage. The crate they will travel in will be subject to the same requirements as those above. If a giant airline cargo pet crate does not fit your pet, you need to contact the airline for a carrier or the IPATA regulations for crates for larger pets.
Whether your pet travels in an airline pet carrier or a cargo pet crate, be sure and give your pet time to be acclimated to the carrier. Keep the pet carrier out where the pet can become familiar with it. Put a toy or treat inside and always keep the door open. Don’t forget lots of phrase when your pet goes inside. If possible, take your pet for a trip to the dog park or someplace fun in the carrier or crate before your trip. Doing all of these things ahead of time will make the trip far smoother when travel day arrives.