Pet Travel: Tips on Booking an Airline Ticket for You and Your Pet

Airline pet travel tips for booking tickets for you and your petMany of our pet owners fly with their pets when going on vacation or traveling to see family or loved ones. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 2012, 623 million people flew safely in the United States alone.

Whether it be the holiday season or any other time during the year, if you are interested in booking a trip with your pet in the near future, here are some tips for saving money when booking airline tickets during the holidays or any time of the year.

Book online, but always contact the airlines prior to booking your flight to verify there is room for your pet in the cabin or cargo hold of that flight. Online ticket prices will most likely always beat booking on the telephone with a reservations agent. Call back after booking to make a reservation for your pet.

Fly direct. Layover only when there is not a direct flight between your origination and destination cities. Keep layovers to 2 about 2 hours and avoid laying over in the UK and Japan if at all possible when traveling internationally to keep costs down. Do not change airlines if you are traveling with a pet. You will have to claim and re-check your pet. Changing planes is OK; changing airlines is not. It is fine to book a one way ticket to transport you and your pet to your destination and a different airline for the return trip. This can be a great way to save money on your airline tickets.

Consider alternate airports. Oftentimes, it can be easier and cheaper to fly into a nearby large airport, rent a car, and drive to a smaller city. If your pet likes riding in the car, this will certainly be more fun for your pet than landing and transferring to a smaller plane to take off again.

Book your flight about 6 weeks prior to the departure date if possible. Tickets tend to be below the average price at this time.

For impending weekend travel, book on a Tuesday around 3:00 PM EST. This is when the airlines have re-priced their seats on flights for the following weekend. Always verify on the telephone that there is room for your pet in the cabin or cargo hold prior to booking online and notify them after you make your reservations.

Fly on a Wednesday if you are traveling domestically. Business traffic is heaviest on Mondays and Fridays so fares tend to be more expensive on those days.

Take either the first flight out in the morning or the red eye at night. Ticket prices on early morning, dinner time, and red-eye flights tend to be cheaper than flights during normal daytime hours. Just be sure that, if you are flying internationally, your flight’s arrival time is during normal business hours during the week so you will not have to pay extra for a veterinarian to clear your pet.

Check Facebook and Twitter for special promotions. The airlines occasionally advertise special fares on social media. If you find one, move fast, as these bargains go quickly.

Check both large and small airline booking websites. Orbitz and Expedia are good to check, but don’t forget the smaller sites like Kayak which could have differing prices and deals on airline tickets. Also, be sure and check the airline’s website! Many airlines hold certain blocks of seats for their online booking and this can mean lower prices for you!

Fly off season. Transporting during the summer to or from hot weather cities can be challenging due to heat embargo rules. If possible, fly with your pet in the spring or autumn and avoid major holidays if possible. Baggage handlers are especially busy during holidays and time for attention to our pets and their needs may be limited. Tickets also tend to be more expensive during the holiday week due to higher demand.

Become a frequent flyer. These programs have become very popular with airline travelers and can afford significant savings. Some airlines even offer frequent flyer miles for traveling pets!

Be flexible. If you are willing and able to keep to a flexible schedule, your chances of finding inexpensive airline travel with your pet will be greater.

Airline travel can be expensive, especially if you are traveling with larger pets. These tips may help you save money next time you are booking your airline reservations.


Pet Travel: Tips on Booking an Airline Ticket for You and Your Pet — 71 Comments

  1. I would like to transport a pitbull from houston to Seattle and understand that not all airlines take a pitbull and that they need special cages.

    Could you advice what type of special cage I need and which airline will accept a pitbull.


  2. Jennifer – if you have to change airlines along the way, you will need to claim your dogs and recheck them on the next airline. The airlines do not interline pets unless they have a very close code sharing arrangement and maybe not even then. (they want to collect the pet fees…) Anyway, in order to recheck your pets, you will need to clear customs and enter the layover country. That said, there are countries that are easier than others to enter with a pet. If you are traveling from the US or Canada, the EU would be relatively easy to conform to regulations. However the farther east you go, the more difficult it will be as the requirements become stricter in places like Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Japan. You should also be careful not to layover in a high-rabies country as this could affect entry to your final destination. If you need to see a list of countries considered high-rabies by many countries, you can find them here:

  3. Hi, we are a military family traveling on orders. We know we will be going overseas again but no idea of the country yet. We are trying to take our dogs this time. The rules for us are that we have to leave on a us airline most do not go all the way to the countries we could go to. If we had to change airline is that possible to do with our two dogs? Thank you Jennifer

  4. Jessica – all live animals must enter the UK as air cargo. It sounds like you are speaking with a reservations agent who is quoting you limits on animals traveling as checked baggage (which is also travel in the hold). To make reservations to transport your pets to the UK, you need to contact the cargo department of an airline approved to fly pets into the UK.

  5. What is the best way to take 3 large cats to uk England from usa. Every airline is limited to 1 or 2 pets as cargo.are there any airlines that carries 3 pets for one passenger?

  6. Cathy – thousands of pets fly every day without incident. Have your veterinarian do a health check to be sure that your pup is healthy. Get them a good crate as early as possible and get them used to the crate. It will be their safe place when they travel. Take them out of their environment in it. Spend a lot of time doing this and it will make a difference in their stress level when they do travel. Practice often and always give lots of praise and attention.

  7. A bit of advise please, the more I read the more confused I get!! My Weimaraner is turning 9 and is a sensitive boy! Am I taking a huge risk with his health if I fly him from Cape Town to the UK?? It sounds as if it is a very stressful business for them. He is with a friend of mine at the moment and I desperately want him here with me I am just worried that he would not fly well and be too stressed out. I am worried about his age?

  8. Elfi – try You can search by country. I believe your layover city where you are changing airlines is Johannesburg, so an agent there would be helpful as they can deal with both airlines.

  9. Thanks for your quick answer, Susan!
    This is getting more and more horrible! I am going to book a flight for about 5,000 $ and none of the mails I sent to DELTA is answered or they are transferred to someone who says he is not the right person! They always want me to phone somewhere, but what I need is a WRITTEN confirmation and a quotation.

    I cannot even use the link you specify, because they want to know the ticket number (of course I did not book yet!), and the online form tells me the (correct) flight number is wrong!

    The arrival in Managua IS in the evening – with a total travel time of 40 hours there is unfortunately not a big choice…

    Is there any pet travel service covering also Madagascar and Nicaragua who could take all this mess away from me ????

  10. Elfi – you can try contacting Delta Cargo facilities by email here: You can also Tweet them, although we wonder about that. @Deltaassist. SA is being very accommodating, but generally, the airlines do not interline pets unless there is a special code sharing relationship and sometimes not even if there is.

    Before booking, check with the cargo department to verify they can board your pet’s crates. Your pets must fly into Johannesburg as manifest cargo, so know that the decision as to whether they fly on your flight will be made when the manifest is completed. You can verify that your pets are traveling on the same plane before you board. The decision is made according to the priority of delivery and the use of oxygen in the hold. The airlines are very careful about their loads to protect their live passengers.

    Tuesday or Wednesday would be fine to fly. Just be sensitive as to when you land in Managua as it should be during normal business hours.

  11. Hi,

    Thank you so much for your precious advice – I have been studying everything since several months. I want to take my 2 adopted medium-size Malagasy-bred dogs with me from Antananarivo to Managua end of March.

    I already organized the 2 IATA cages, rabies vaccination, int’l health certificate, microchip and the result of the laboratory test (positive) which had to be sent from Madagascar to the lab in France (cooled!), all papers with 4 copies.

    Remain the health certificate 10 days before the flight and the export authorization of the Ministry of Agriculture (my excellent veterinary will take care of this).

    But now I have some questions concerning the flight: There is no direct flight; the shortest connection I found (still 40 hours!) is from Antananarivo to Johannesburg with South African, then further to Atlanta and Managua with DELTA.

    1) The SA cargo department in Antananarivo advised me to send them all documents scanned some days before the flight so that they can prepare everything – which is fine. But they need a confirmation from DELTA that they will take the dogs on board in Jo-burg and further transport them (so that they are not imported to South Africa).

    Unfortunately DELTA does not react to my mails, and when flying to Managua last time, my 2 suitcases did not come with my flight – although in Atlanta they confirmed they will be on board. Now I am afraid this could also happen to my dogs – or do they give priority to “living animals”?

    2) Which is the best procedure for booking: First book my flight, then send both airlines all flight details incl. weight and dimensions of the cages and book their transportation?

    DELTA has no representation in Madagascar, and on their website they have only phone numbers. What I want is a written confirmation that they will transport the dogs – how can I get this?

    3) Would a flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday be best ? And is 2 weeks before Easter enough?
    Easter is the most important holiday in Nicaragua, so I do not want to get into a mess…

    Thanks for your reply + best regards


  12. Randi – entering Korea from Australia with a pet requires that your pet be microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and accompanied by a veterinary certificate. A titer test is not required as South Korea considers Australia to be rabies-free. You can find details here: You will need to be familiar with Australia’s export requirements which can be found here: Find an airline that flies the entire route and keep layovers less than 2 hours. Be sure and avoid transiting Taiwan as they have a practice of quarantining pets in transit.

  13. Hi, We are considering to bring our 18 month old Weimaraner over from Brisbane, Australia to Busan, South Korea in 6 months time. Can you please give us some advice. Thanks.

  14. Tatiana – the only commercial airlines we could find that fly the route from Calagary to Managua with one stop are Air Canada and United. Would suggest that you try Air Canada as United will not fly your pet in the cabin. We could find no reasonable options other than those unless you change airlines which should not be a first choice.

  15. Hi, Could you please help me with the info I need. I will be traveling with my dog(Whippet) from Canada Calgary to Nicaragua. Pease help me to choose the easy way to travel. What airline I should consider? What should be done with the dog prier flight? I whoud like to take her to the cabin.
    Thank you.

  16. Melanie – if your kitten enters Canada prior to being 3 months old, it will not be subject to vaccination requirements. However, most airlines will not ship a puppy or kitten prior to 15 weeks of age as their lungs are not fully developed and there is risk to your pet if shipping it too young. We would recommend waiting until your kitty is old enough to be vaccinated for rabies (12 weeks) and longer than that if possible, prior to shipping it. You will need to verify export requirements from Shanghai. You will contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route. (changing airplanes is OK; changing airlines is not.) Keep the layovers to 2 hours. Avoid London if possible. You will need a health certificate issued no more than 10 days prior to travel by your veterinarian.

  17. What about travelling from Shanghai to Canada? I bought a kitten in China and now want to ship her to Canada (although I will not physically be on the plane)

  18. Rachel – the US is very pet friendly. Your dog will need to travel with proof of rabies vaccination at least 30 days prior to entering the country and a health certificate. Your kitties should be vaccinated for rabies and it will probably be a requirement of Malaysia to leave. You will have no problems entering the US with 4 animals. You can find details here:

    Poland’s requirements are a microchip followed by a rabies vaccination at least 21 days prior to entering the country. You will need an Annex II form for Poland. The number of pets you travel with to the EU are limited to 5 on a non-commercial transport. You can find details on taking a pet to Poland here:

  19. Hello Ryoko – Myanmar is considered by the UK to be a high-rabies country and so there is a specific process to be followed: microchip, rabies vaccination (in that order), 30 day wait, then Blood Titer Test. Assuming an acceptable result, your Lab can enter the UK 3 calendar months after the day the blood was drawn. Your pet will need an Annex II form completed within 10 days of entry as well as a tapeworm treatment between one and five days of entry. Details and links to instructions and all forms required here if you need them:

  20. Hi,
    I may be relocating to either Tampa, Florida or Warsaw, Poland for work in 2015. I am from Malaysia. I am planning on bringing along my fur-kids – 2 or 3 cats plus 1 dog. what would be the best and most cost efficient method of bringing them to either one of these 2 locations? And would there be any restrictions as to the number of pets I can bring in to either one of the 2 locations stated above.

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