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.

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

  • KLM/Air France Cargo, Lufthansa or Swiss have good routes from Rome to Johannesburg. They have one-stop flights through their hub cities with quick layovers. All of these airlines have good marks for transporting pets. Short layovers are best because your pet is not waiting in a holding area in a layover city. With the layovers that these airlines offer, there will not be time to see your pet between flights.
    Susan

  • Norberto

    I am planning to move to Johannesburg from Rome, Italy. I own two very old dogs (15 – 10 y.o.) and would like to minimize stress upon them: plus, I would only like to use airlines which respect animals thoroughly — i.e. stowing them in an area which is pressurized exactly like ours, with the same temperature, etc. . Of course I do not know what is best and need your assistance in order to choose the best itinerary. Should I look for a shorter time lapse between flights (for example, Swiss through Zurich, only stops for a bit more than an hour and then sets off to Joburg again)? Do I get a chance to see how they are doing between flights? Please advise me on what is best. Thanks

  • Captain Mac – you can find an agent in London to help you with the transfer at IPATA.org. You can search for a pet transporter by airport. There is not an agent located in Grenada, however. There are pre-flight requirements that must be taken prior to landing in South Africa including a titer test. You can find them here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/SouthAfrica.cfm. Hopefully, there is someone in Grenada that can assist.
    Susan

  • francis mac

    Dear All
    please can someone assist me to fly my cat from Grenada to Cape Town, on British Airways. There is an aircraft change from Gatwick inbound, to Heathrow outbound, the same day – but I cannot find out who to contact in Grenada and also to transfer kitty from the one BA flight to the other in London?
    Any email contacts would be much appreciated.
    Kind Regards
    Captain Mac

  • Hi Jerry – the layover in LAX should be about 5 hours. You can claim your pet from the domestic flight and take it for a walk before checking it in on the next flight. You can decide to stay in LA for a night before boarding the flight, and especially if the temperatures are an issue and it would help you with scheduling.
    Susan

  • jerry jackson

    I plan on going to Cebu Philippines in September to stay for 6 months or more.I am deciding on if I should take my dog. the only direct route I found is using Philippines airline which will fly from LAX to manila with a short couple hours layover then to Cebu . However I will have to use a different airlines to get to LA from Denver. my question is should I try to take both flights the same day? schedule flight to La early and late flight to Cebu. I could just spend time at airport (I heard they have a dog park there),or should I fly to LA and stay a couple of days and then fly to Cebu?
    I will appreciate your input. I do know that I will have to get an import permit and a health certificate from vet. endorse by the consulate and have all the require shots and a microchip

  • Jay – it is always better to travel with your pets in the cabin if at all possible. Vietnam Airlines allows this, but not sure if it is allowed on your particular route, so you should contact them. (there also may be a “one pet per passenger” rule) You will need to monitor their food the day before the trip. (feed them half as much as normal). Your kitties should not void in the carrier unless they are extremely nervous or have been fed too much prior to the trip. Get a pet pad like this one (http://www.pettravelstore.com/pet-carrier-crate-pads/) and stack them in the carrier. That way, if your pet does have an accident, you can remove the soiled pad and there is a new one underneath. Be sure and acclimate them to their carrier well in advance of travel and get them out of their environment in the carrier.
    Jason

  • Jay

    I want to take my 2 cats with me from Toronto to Vietnam, but I’m very nervous about this. The flight is about 25 hours and I’m not sure how to take them there safely, whether cargo is better for them or cabin, and how will they go to the bathroom?

  • Shez- great job on your preparations. If you have vaccinated your pet after microchipping, then all you will need is an Annex II form for Germany filled out by your vet and endorsed by the USDA office in your state. You should request an APHIS 7001 form from your vet as well. The airlines will need that.
    Phil

  • shez

    I wanna send my 2 year old german shepherd, from dfw to Frankfurt. I alradey had his microchipped and all vaccination. And already got his passport and attested usda papers, so wot should I do know? Plz tell me

  • Hi Mimi – to travel to Italy from the Philippines with a pet, you will need to prepare in advance. First you will need to have your pet microchipped, then vaccinated for rabies. (in that order) If your pet is currently microchipped, then it should have been vaccinated for rabies AFTER the chip was implanted. No sooner than 30 days after the vaccination, your veterinarian will do a Blood Titer Test (RNATT). Assuming that the results are acceptable, then your pet can enter Italy 90 days after the day the blood was drawn with an Annex II form for Italy. You can find details and links to forms and instructions here should you need them: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/Italy.cfm.

    You will need to find an airline that flies the entire route with the least amount of stops as possible and layovers less than 2 hours. Do not transit in Japan. Let me know if you need additional assistance.
    Susan

  • hi i planning to travel philippines to italy what i do prepare? how much will it cost?

  • Laura – you should be able to find an airline that serves the entire route from Canada to Romania. Best not to change airlines as they do not interline pets and it may cause you to have to clear customs and enter the layover country.

    Each airline has different policies regarding making reservations for pets and it also depends on whether your cat is traveling in the cabin or as checked baggage in the hold.
    Susan

  • Hi Laura – the answer to your question is yes, you will have to call both airlines and let them know you are traveling with a pet. There will also be a separate charge for each airline. That said, is there not a route that will keep you on the same airline? It is so much easier to stay on the same airline. What cities are you traveling from and to?
    Susan

  • laura lory

    Hi..I want to travel with my cat from Canada to Romania this summer and I will have to fly with Air Canada and Lufthansa.My question is when I book the ticket online, do I have to call both companies to make the reservation for the cat?This will be a round trip,so I also would want to know when I need to make the reservation for the cat when we return back to Canada?Thank you in advance.

  • Hi Nina – changing airplanes is OK. Changing airlines may cause problems. If you have to leave your terminal to get to the next gate and pass through customs, then you will need to comply with the regulations of the layover country. If you are staying on the same airline, you will most likely not have to do that.
    Susan

  • Nina

    So even though my final destination is Macedonia, but i will be changing planes though EU countries i still don’t need the annex form? Thanks
    And yes i received the vet. certificate in the package
    Thank you

  • Hi Nina – Macedonia is not part of the European Union so an Annex II form would not be what you need. You should have received a veterinary certificate that your vet will fill out and the USDA will endorse prior to leaving the US. You will need to microchip your pet and also show proof of vaccinations at least 6 months prior to entry. You can find details here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/Macedonia.cfm No blood titer test is required. (The EU does not require a titer test for pets entering from the US either.)
    Susan

  • Nina

    Thanks Susan
    So i ordered the pet passport but annex II form was not included. I’m traveling from us to macedonia so i have the aphis form but where do i get the annex II form?
    Also do EU countries require blood titer test if your are traveling from US? Does Macedonia require blood titer test?
    Thank you

  • The Annex II form is the required health certificate to enter the EU. Each country has a different one to accommodate language differences. An APHIS 7001 form is also a health certificate and is used for pets leaving the US. Although the EU does not require an APHIS form, many airlines require it.
    Hope this helps. Susan

  • Nina

    What is the difference between annex II form and aphis form?

  • Hi Diana – you need to check airline requirements for traveling with a pet as checked baggage. Some require certificates and others do not. You will need your pet’s EU passport to clear Belgium. Have your vet update the passport.
    Jason

  • Diana

    We will travel with our cat from Slovenia to Belgium, mid of April. Cat has already a microchip and was vaccinated three weeks ago.
    Should we go again to vet to check that she is healthy before flying? Thanks in advance.

  • Eran – South Africa is not yet considered a rabies controlled country by the EU, so your pup will need a Blood Titer Test no sooner than one month after rabies vaccination. Assuming acceptable results, your pup can enter the UK 90 days after the date the blood was drawn. You can find details and additional requirements here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/UnitedKingdom.cfm.
    Susan

  • eran

    Hi all, I will be moving back to london from cape town in june, my dog has been microchipped, will need her rabies jab updated what else do I need? which airline will fly us both direct so I can collect her when in London off the same flight as myself. My dog is a very small daschund under 5kg. Thanks your help is much appreciated,

    Best

    Eran

  • Hi Emmanuel – it is not a problem to bring your dog and ferret to Greece, but you will need to get your pets microchipped. After the microchip is inserted, then your vet will need to vaccinate them for rabies. They MUST be vaccinated for rabies AFTER the chip is inserted. You can enter Greece no sooner than 21 days after the vaccination with an endorsed Annex II form completed by your vet within 10 days of travel. You can find details with links to complete instructions and all the forms you will need here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/greece.cfm.

    As for the airlines, most airlines will not permit ferrets in the cabin, but they will accept them as checked baggage. Contact SAS, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa or Swiss Air. They all have flights that would accommodate your pets with minimal transits.
    Susan

  • Emmanuel athanasakis

    Trying to find out how I can take my dog and farret from Newark n.j to Athens Greece.both have had all there shots but no microchip.do you know any airplane I can use,not all of them like farrets.

  • Hello Adrien – you may want to check Lufthansa. They have a BOS to FRA to SIN route which would eliminate a stop. Six hours in Frankfurt, but that is Lufthansa’s headquarters, so care would be available. Just a thought.
    Susan

  • Adrien

    Hello,

    great website. I will be travelling with my cat from USA (Boston) to Singapore at the end of March. Do you have any advice on the best airline ?

    United seems to accept pet in-cabin but their flight go through Hong-Kong, and HK is not ok with it.
    Singapore airlines only offers Cargo, which I’d like to avoid for such a long trip, right ?
    Qatar Airways seems to be a better choice, as they don’t allow for in-cabin, but authorize cats as a checked baggage, with special care offered in Doha.

    Thank you very much for any information and/or advice you may have.
    Regards,
    Adrien

  • Linda – You are correct. Turkish is on the list of approved carriers.
    Susan

  • Linda Dolan

    Thanks Susan but Air Routes
    Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs states they are on the following link.
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/277859/pets-air-routes.pdf

    I’m confused!

  • Hi Linda – it is not a DEFRA requirement but an airline requirement that your pets enter anywhere in the UK as manifest cargo. As for an agent, not all airlines require that an agent handle the transport, but there will be an agent assigned to collect yoru pet from the plane and take it to the Animal Reception Center. You should know that Turkish Airlines is not an approved carrier to carry animals to the UK.
    Susan

  • Linda Dolan

    I am moving back to the UK from North Cyprus (Turkish side)and will be bringing my two dogs. They have received all necessary vaccinations and are micro chipped. I brought one of the dogs over when I moved here but it seems more difficult to bring them back. I have had conflicting information and just want to know if I can bring both dogs back with me on Turkish Airlines as excess luggage without the use of an animal courier?

    Could somebody please advise me of the correct procedure?

  • Harry – thank you very much for your comments. They are greatly appreciated. One thing to consider with BA is that they will most likely require an agent handle the transport into CPT due to the manifest cargo requirement. Have you considered KLM? They fly through AMS to CPT from BCN.
    Susan

  • Harry

    beside all other known requirements i/t/o vaccination, vet-papers, import permit etc to import a puppy (standard poodle, >4months old) into South Africa, I’m looking for the following reliable information:
    BCN (Barcelona) via LHR (London Heathrow) to CPT (Cape Town) – flight operated by BA
    dog will be accompanied by the breeder on the same flight/s – dog will be checked in as manifest cargo, though.
    Q: Since LHR is only the transit airport, is quarantine being waived?

    Other option available for flight would be with Air France
    MPL (Montpellier) via CDG (Paris) to CPT (Cape Town) – flight operated by AF
    but this would require a much longer drive by care from Girona, Spain to Montpellier, France (approx 250km) where as starting from BCN the drive by car to airport is only 100km.
    What would you recommend?
    Either way, the breeder will be travelling on same flight/s
    Thanks in advance. And by the way, your blog is superb!
    Harry

  • Nick Taylor

    Checking facebook and twitter is very important even if you are not traveling without any pet as you can grab some limited time promotional offer or discounts. Also it will be very inconvenient if you change flight in between so wherever possible always try to take direct flight to your destination especially if you are traveling with your pet.

  • Hi Nelly – because you are changing airlines, you will need to verify with Condor that you will not have to customs clear your cat in order to board a Lufthansa flight. If this is the case, you will need extra time to clear customs and an Annex II form for Germany as well as Bulgaria. You can avoid this by flying KLM out of Seattle through Amsterdam to Sophia or Lufthansa (bit longer route) as long as the airlines will permit pets in the cabin on these routes. This way, you will stay on the same airline from Seattle to Sophia.
    Susan

  • Nelly

    We are going to travel from Las Vegas USA to Sophia, Bulgaria with our cat which is 10 pounds in the cabin …..starting with Alaska Airline to Seattle, after this Condor to Germany and last one is with Lufthansa….so far we are preparing the cat by requirements by Bulgaria pet passport…. do you think there will be problems on one of this different airports where we will wait in transit areas for each next flight?

  • Generally, the airlines will not permit pets to accompany minors in the cabin. Commercial traffic in the UK for live animals is generally done in the cargo hold. If your pet is microchipped, and vaccinated (in that order) and is traveling with an EU Pet Passport, they should be fine. You may want to check with the airlines on fit to fly document.
    Susan

  • paul

    We are interested in the rules for flying our cat from scotland to jersey, channel islands. Weunderstand no pet passport is required and, subject to certain weight and size restrictions, we may be able to fly him in the cabin. Do we need a Fit to Fly Certificate from the vet?

    It may be that our 8 year old son would fly with him….is that allowed if there is someone to meet him at the other end?

  • I cannot find an airline that will permit pets to travel in the cabin to Knock. Sorry I could not be of more assistance.
    Susan

  • kathleen brockie

    WILL ANY PLANE LET ME TAKE MY DOGS WITH ME IN THE CABIN WHEN I FLY FROM EDINBURGH TO KNOCK

  • Riya

    Absolutely amazing bit of information you have shared with us. Its really important and rarely people know about how to transport your pet.

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

  • Hi Bill – I took a quick look and can offer suggestions only as we don’t recommend airlines unless they offer a specific benefit to a traveling pet on a particular route. As you know, some airlines do not transport Staffordshires, so I would recommend that you research further should you decide to pursue alternatives to the route you took when you made the move several years ago. I would suggest that you avoid London altogether if possible. Caribbean Air flies to JFK directly or through the Port of Spain. (verify they can handle your pet’s crate size.) At JFK, I would suggest that you transfer airlines as clearing customs in the US is easier than in the UK. You can transfer at JFK to South African Airways to Johannesburg. If you are not accompanying your pet, then you will need a pet transporter that services JFK to clear your pet and kennel your pet prior to checking in for the trip to Johannesburg (and on to Cape Town if that is your final destination). Another alternative would be Caribbean Air to JFK and switching to Lufthansa who flies through Frankfurt. The layover in Frankfurt is 15 hours, but they have a great facility to care for your pet between flights. Lufthansa flies on to Johannesburg. If you have further questions, my email is sue@pettravel.com.
    Susan

  • Bill Blunt

    Seven years ago I imported my Staffordshire Bull Terrier from South Africa (high rabies) via London, to Grenada (West Indies, high rabies. I used British Air. In London the dog had to be transferred from Heathrow to Gatwick airports. I now want to return the dog from Grenada to South Africa. There are no direct flights from Grenada to South Africa. Could you kindly advise me about the best way to organize this?

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