Flying with your pet? Here are 10 things not to forget to do.

flying with your petSo, you are flying with your pet in a few days. There is so much to think about. Here are 10 things you should not forget to do before you fly.

1. Confirm reservations for your pet – contact your airline and tell them you are traveling with a pet. Do this whether your pet is flying in the cabin, as checked baggage or air cargo. Do this before you book your ticket to be sure your airline has not met its limits on the number of pets they will carry on your flight. If you can’t pay for your pet’s passage online, then you will pay at the check-in counter.

2. Book a window seat – if your dog or cat is flying in the cabin with you, reserve a window seat. This removes your pet from the traffic in the aisle so it will be less distracted, stay calmer and can focus on your reassurances. Also, with all the cabin redesigns of late, electronics powering seat back screens and such can wind up under the center seat, thus eating up any space for your pet carrier.

cell phones3. Stay connected – sign up for flight notifications from your airline via text and email alerts. You can also get the FlightStats app which gives you real-time flight status and is free for Android and iOS phones. Amazon Echo can monitor flight status of most major American-based airlines, provide wait times at security, weather at your destination, call Uber or Lyft and provide translations for foreign countries.

Don’t forget to add your airline’s reservation number into your mobile device in case any delays or cancellations occur. If your pet is flying as air cargo, add the number of your airline’s cargo facility.

4. Do your research – check your layover airport to see if there are any pet relief areas behind security gates. Many US airports have them but unfortunately, few foreign airports do. (carry spare pet pads) Find pet hospitals and veterinarians in your destination city. Be prepared in the case of emergencies. Also find pet friendly hotels, parks and restaurants so you and your pet can enjoy your stay together. If you are thinking about attending an attraction that does not accept pets, find a doggie day care and contact them for their requirements.

5. Get your pet microchipped – this is one of the most important things you can do. A pet microchip is your pet’s identification should you become separated from it. Don’t forget to register your chip with your cell phone number in the registration. No good if officials are trying to contact you at home when you are out of town.

pet documentation6. Don’t forget your pet’s documentation – if you are flying with your pet internationally, you should already have your pet’s rabies certificate, health certificate and other permits and tests that may be required to enter your pet’s destination country. More on international pet import requirements.

Take a selfie of you and your pet on your mobile phone for identification.

7. Check your equipment – your pet carrier should be clean, without tears, and zippers should operate correctly. Make sure you have everything you need to make your pet crate IATA-compatible if your pet is traveling in the cargo hold. Put your pet’s documentation in a plastic Zip lock bag and tape it to the top of your pet’s crate and mark it ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS – DO NOT REMOVE. Tape a bit of food as well if you are taking a long trip. Freeze water in your pet’s water bowl to minimize spillage during handling. Attach crate hardware and live animal stickers to the crate. Put a good pet crate pad in the crate to keep your pet dry and comfortable during the trip. More on preparing your pet’s crate for travel.

8. Assemble essentials – put everything your pet needs in one place: leash, collar, medications, treats, food, grooming items, wipes and anything else your pet will need. No toys or chews will be allowed in pet crates, so you will need to carry them with you.

9. Pre-Boarding exercise – leave extra time for walking your pet at home before leaving for the airport. This not only relaxes them but tires them out and helps to ease the stress of traveling. As always, be considerate to others and the environment and clean up after your pet.

Stay at Delta Sky Club when flying with your pet10. Relax – have a long layover in a US airport? Consider joining your airline’s club so you can relax in their lounge if they permit pets. Centurion Lounges for American Express Platinum card members permit well behaved pets in carriers. They are located in the following airports: Dallas/Fort Worth (Terminal D), Intercontinental Houston (Terminal D), Las Vegas McCarran (Concourse D), Miami International (Concourse D), NY LaGuardia (Terminal B – pre-security), San Francisco (Terminal 3) and Seattle-Tacoma (Concourse B). Members of United Club and Delta Sky Club can also enjoy their well behaved pets in their lounges. If your pet is flying as air cargo, this is a good time to contact the cargo office and request an update on your pet’s transport.

Much more information on flying with your pet can be found in our pet travel information section.


Flying with your pet? Here are 10 things not to forget to do. — 21 Comments

  1. Maliheh – you can find requirements to import your pet puppy to Malaysia here and there are links to further instructions and forms if you need them: It may take you a bit longer than 30 days to prepare. Once in Malaysia, your pet will have another titer test, have it endorsed by a government vet and apply for the import permit, then reserve quarantine space.

  2. hello i will want send my pet puppy from Iran to Malaysia about 30–45 days before i bring it to Melbourne . then for import to Malaysia is it necessary permit?i didn’t the role of Malaysia .please say to me if you have any information .

  3. Laura-Ann – your cat will need an EU Pet Passport reflecting the microchip and rabies vaccination. You can get that from your veterinarian.

  4. I would like to take my cat to lanzarote from Glasgow airport. I have checked and i think that Thomas cook are the airline im going with and it means I can take my cat in the cabin with me. I am taking her for rabies vaccination and to be microchipped. I have been told that this is what I need to do to get a passport for her. can you tell me if i am missing anything out, not thought of something. thanks

  5. Laureen – ask your airline whether they will accept your dog with a copy of the rabies certificate.

  6. what kinds of papers I need can u please send me a list thank you so much have a great day laureen l wiley

  7. I would like to know if you need the original papers of her rabies vaccine I have sent it to Hawaii animal quarantine I’m leaving October 4 2017 with my emotional service dog she is a small dog acheewawa I just wanted to know all the paper work I need I’m going to salt lake uta to catch my plane I have a pet carrier I brought @ Petco its hard plastic I’m going to Hawaii Honolulu i sent her blood work to Hawaii animal quarantine

  8. Anyone flown their dog in and out of Gibraltar before entering Spain? Any tips?

  9. Sylvie – we are not familiar with other water bottles available on the market; however, they all use the same concept – a small metal ball in a metal tube that will allow water to pass when pushed up. If your dog is not taking to the water bottle, then attach it to the door anyway if your airline requires it and also get a large water bowl and attach the bowl under the water bottle so the bowl will catch any drips. or

  10. We have been relocated to Bogota, Colombia from the US. We are taking our Schnoodle with us. I tried to teach him to drink from a lixit dog water bottle (the one with a drinking tube), but he doesn’t like it!!! I used peanut butter, candy, everything. As soon as he eats the penut butter he is done.
    What other water bottle can I use that is adequate to attach to the crate in a plane trip that will not spill the water all over him?

  11. EMS-JR: if your dogs are in good health, have a stable personality and you have time to acclimate them to their crate, they should be able to travel. You and your vet know your pets the best. Will they get good care if left behind? Certainly would likely not be their choice…

    All the airlines try really hard to keep their live animal passengers safe. Considering you are flying into Germany, Lufthansa would likely have a number of good routes (hopefully direct) to your destination. The objective is to get your dogs to their destination as directly as possible.

    You will need to be wary of temperatures if you are located in an area that gets hot in the summer as only United has a program to deal with summer heat.

  12. My family and I are going to be relocating to Germany this summer (work-related). We have two older mid-size dogs: Australian Shepherd mix (13y/0, 55 LBS) and an Akita\Sheltie mix (11 y/o 35 LBS).

    Q-1) We are worried about the stress on them. Is it realistic to want to bring them with us or is it just selfishness and cruel?

    Q-2) Which airlines have the best reputation for handling pets?

  13. Sheila – as long as you stay on the same airline in and out of a country and, if your pet is traveling in the cargo hold, the layover is not over 2-3 hours, then the airline will transit your pet from plane to plane and it will not enter the layover country.

  14. Very informative – thank you

    I’m moving to the US (portland OR) from South Africa – bringing my fur baby with me of course.

    If in transit, do the quarantine laws apply if you don’t leave the airport and its not final destination?

    Trying to find least stressful route for kitty as she’s 13 already

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