Pet Travel: Keeping your pet calm during airline in-cabin travel

Pet Travel Airline In Cabin - how will your pet react?You are flying, your pet is traveling with you in the cabin of the airline, and, unless you have done this before, you have no way of knowing how your pet will travel. The last thing you want to deal with is a howling cat or a wimpering dog for hours until you land. So what can you do to keep your pet quiet during the flight?

The first thing to consider is that, under no circumstances, can you remove your pet from its carrier during the flight. However, the key here is to keep your pet calm, to isolate them from all of the crazy activity of people loading their gear in the overhead compartments and finding their seats. This is the perfect opportunity to keep your pet in its carrier on your lap, turn it towards the window, and hug it tightly (if your pet allows for hugs) and stroke it through the carrier (assuming you are using a soft sided carrier which we highly recommend). Keep your voice low and close to your pet while assuring it that everything will be ok. Lots of “good girls” and “good boys” are certainly a welcome sound for a nervous pet.

The attendents will tell you that your pet must be stowed under the seat in front of you during take off and landing and we must all comply with that. Hopefully, your pet is laying down at this point because you need to get the carrier under the seat in front of you. Leave the carrier between your feet for a minute and then slowly slide the carrier under the seat all the while offering plenty of vocal assurances.

Once the plane is in the air, you should be allowed to keep the carrier between your feet. If your pet is fussing, offer them a pet calmer by unzipping the carrier an inch or two and extending the treat to your pet. This should calm them down. The drone of the engines should encourage them to rest unless there is too much activity in the cabin. You should be able to extend a finger or two into the carrier for a head scratch so that your pet will know that you are still there. Also, a finger tip that has been dunked in a glass of water is a good way to keep your pet occupied.

Because you are traveling, you have not given your pet a full meal, so offering one piece of chow at a time can keep you connected with your pet as long as they will accept it. Don’t feed them too much; the object here is to keep them occupied, not to fill their belly. Remember not to open the carrier so that your pet can escape. This will never turn out to be a good thing.

Other tips for traveling pet owners: put a worn t-shirt or piece of your clothing with your scent on it in the carrier with your pet. Your scent is very calming to your pet. Pack light so you don’t have to fumble with other luggage and can move quickly to turn your attention to your pet. Groom your pet prior to travel. A clean, well groomed pet is a happier traveler. Also, try to prepare in advance for your trip. Get your pet accustomed to being in the carrier. It will pay off on travel day.

Pet travel on an airline can be challenging, but use a few tricks and a lot of love, and your pet will do just fine.


Pet Travel: Keeping your pet calm during airline in-cabin travel — 166 Comments

  1. May – if you want your pup with you in the cabin, and it is small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat, then you may want to consider either Asiana Airlines or Korean Air. Asiana will transit in Seoul and put you into Chicago and Korean Air transit in Seoul and put you into Seattle. These would be the cities where you would clear customs and board a domestic flight to Indiana.

  2. Hi, i am travelling with my 3 years old pomeranian from manila to indiana usa. I worry with the safety of my dog can you suggest an airline that accept my dog to stay in cabin. If not as cargo will my dog will be 100% safe.
    thank you for your reply

  3. I agree with placing your worn item into the carrier with your pet. I have travelled several times with my cat and I’ve learned to always placed my recently worn shirt in there with her. It has always been a hassle-free flight since I started doing that. During the times I wasn’t able to, my cat would just be meowing and yowling constantly. You could imagine what the other passengers were going through with all that noise.

  4. i am flying with my cat first time being on a plane in janurey 2017 and south west . and they say esa are welcome and you have to have a dr note thats all . going to ca for a week and then coming back home. he is 16. dr say coming treets

  5. Mrs. Stout – unless your Yorkie is a service or emotional support animal, it must travel in an airline compliant carrier.

  6. Iam Flying On Allegiant this sunday takeing my yorkie And She Don’t like to be in a cage she like to be right with you. How Is Allegiant with that.
    Mrs stout.

  7. Monique – it is doubtful that you can find an airline that will fly into Johannesburg with your Yorkie in the cabin. (we do not know of any.) What you need to do, if you need to take the trip, is to get a good crate as soon as possible and get your Yorkie acclimated to its crate. It must see it as a safe place and you must take it out and about in the crate. The more time you spend doing this, the easier it will be on your Yorkie come travel day. There is a dedicated place for animals and that place is temperature and pressure controlled like the cabin. Most dogs just rest to the drone of the engines. Make sure your pup has enough water in the crate bowl as well.

  8. am flying my yorki to my mom from port elizabeth to jhihanneburg , they dont want my doggy in the cabin and am stressed ot because i dont know if he will be oky underneath the plane its cold and the noise is loud 🙁 how do i get him to be calm for an 1hour and 45 min flight please any suggetuions ???????? am stressed beyond because my boy (Yorki) is very sensitive on his ears .

  9. Deonette – many airlines accept pets in the cabin on routes where the destination country does not require that pets arrive as cargo. Examples are American, Delta, United, Lufthansa, KLM, Southwest, JetBlue, Korean Air, Turkish Airlines and there are more.

  10. Elsa – US Airways is the only commercial airline that will allow you to get an extra ticket for another pet. If the dogs are very small (puppies), then there is a possibility that an airline will allow it. Else, generally, the rule is one pet per passenger.

  11. Pam – whether pets are allowed in the cabin depends on your destination country and your airline’s pet policy.

  12. Hi Pam – we wish we could help, but HK regulations require that all animals including pets arrive as air cargo. Service animals may be exempted from this requirement but we doubt ESAs are included. Your airline should be able to tell you that.

  13. @Stephanie on August 14, 2016 at 12:13 AM – be careful in traveling with your pug, there’s a higher risk when traveling with flat nosed pets due to their nasal cavity being compressed, they could die. “data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). For five years, starting in May of 2005, DOT recorded all pet deaths during air travel. There were 122 dog deaths in that time period, and approximately half of them were “short-faced” breeds, like pugs and bulldogs.”

  14. Hi, I’ve read through some of your older posts. I’m flying my poodle from Toronto to Hong Kong. Looks like only Cathay pacific and air canada provide direct flights. I really don’t want my dog to go through those airlines ground noise and cargo… Hopefully you can help me! Thank you again.

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