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 — 210 Comments

  1. Zach – if you anticipate that your pet will be fidgety or anxious, then you may want to consider a Pet calmer. Hopefully, your Air France flight is non-stop or you will need to recheck your pet on the next leg of your trip and pay another pet fee. Layer pet pads is your carrier so accidents are easier to deal with. Have a safe trip.

  2. I’m currently living in the U.S. and planning on flying via Air France to Paris then using the Pet Moves company to get into the UK. They go straight from CDG to several locations in SE England as well as London. Then another 3 hour drive to my new home in Newcastle upon Tyne. Any suggestions on anything that would make this trip easier on her? Thank you.

  3. Middle East Airlines allow pets on board in the cabin for USD 100 and total bag size should be collectively 115cm

  4. The good airline to fly with from uk to any Europe is aeagen airline, small dogs can be in the cabin with you, but problem is only when you come back to uk, flight from London to Athens I paid 50 Euro, to come back 600 pounds.

  5. We have confirmed that Swiss Air, Air Canada and Lufthansa will transport pets out of the UK in the cabin on certain routes. Have you checked with Iberia?

  6. do you know of any airlines flying from England to Spain that allow you to take a small dog on board with you

  7. I am traveling from Ottawa to Geneva with my 3 year old toy poodle. I am transferring in Montreal. Does annyone know if there is a pet relief area in Montreal inside security?
    And yes good idea. I will try that. And do U think I should let her walk threw the airport after she goes potty?

  8. That is correct, Midori. If the security officer denies you access to the room in Frankfurt, ask to speak to his or her supervisor. Do not take “no” for an answer.

  9. Hi Susan,

    thank you..OK; I will not remove it from the bag in the toilet.. I will only do so if i have to Change the toilet sheet in case she urines..OK, what you mean is once I remove it from the bag in the toilet, she will know that i could remove her if she cries enough… but i can not remove her.. then she may be agressiver.. I understand…

    UPDATE from the German Airport security, I visited Stuttgart Airport security yesterday to ask about the procedure- although i will not fly from Stuttgart but Frankfurt, I think it is a good indication for German Airport.. They do have a closed room where I can remove the cat.. I do not Need to reserve the room.. I can wait until the bag is scanned.. and the security Agent will bring the bag back to my room…

  10. Midori – you can comfort your cat while it is in the carrier. Although it sounds like a good idea to remove your cat from the carrier to give it love, you have to put it back at some point. Once your cat knows that you will take it out of the carrier, its behavior may change. Best to speak to it while it is in the carrier in low and consistent tones and squeeze it lightly. If you have a soft-sided carrier, your cat will feel your “hugs.” Keep the environment around it calm if you can. That is why a window seat is important.

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